Monday, January 16, 2012

Day -1: How Can This Be?

I'm so much better this morning! How can this be?

Last night I didn't know whether I'd be able to sleep. I laid down, and my whole right cheek was just kind of sore. I felt very hot in my abdomen. My tongue burned a little like it was ready to break out in sores.

I did everything I knew to do. I drank a little. I'd been eating very calming type meals, several and small through the evening. I rinsed my mouth a couple times with the soda/salt solution they gave me. I used Biotene's dry mouth gel several times. I sucked on my throat lozenges.

Maybe I was doing too much!

I woke up repeatedly through the night because they're giving me fluid at a rate about a gallon and a half a day directly into my bloodstream, on top of what I drink orally. On top of that, I had a defective pump on my IV pole (there's three total), and it would start beeping every 1 to 2 hours. They just got that changed this morning.

This is all besides the taking of my vital signs and the urine specimens I have to give them. Both of those are every four hours, but they're staggered, so I had to get up at 10pm, 12am, 2am, 4am, and 6am—besides all those other things I listed.

When I got up, though, I did all the maintenance things that I wouldn't have been doing had I slept straight through. I rinsed my mouth, used the gel, drank a little to settle my stomach, etc.

I think I got two naps of over 1 hour last night, one of them almost the full two hours. I got up for an hour on purpose to finish editing Wednesday's Through the Bible blog post and to answer emails. That was enjoyable, and it relaxed me so I think that was the point I slept two hours straight, from 2am to 4am.

I got up at 5am and went walking. The first half mile was hard, and my calves were burning. Both the previous days, it was so easy. I walked the first half mile in ten minutes, and then I felt better, so I burned through the next half mile in eight. Then I felt better. Not as good as yesterday, mind you, but better. So I did a mile slowly on the bike, though not as slowly as I thought I'd have to, then walked a casual 20-minute mile afterward, though it took closer to 25 because I had to get weighed and get my IV pump fixed twice during the walk.

Things are not just smooth in the hospital. I like to make sure my walks are finished before 6am, and preferably before 5:30, because you're not walking any 8-minute half miles in the hallway during the day without knocking down nurses, equipment, patients, and maybe food carts, too!

So here I am, at 7:30 am, and my cheek doesn't burn, my tongue doesn't burn, and my stomach is a little upset, not bad at all. I had a couple blueberry muffins, and I raided the hospital refrigerator for a bottle of vanilla-flavored Ensure, which tastes great and seems very mild on the stomach. The walk totally restored my energy.

I also got several really enjoyable emails. My friend and advisor in Ireland, whom I've been emailing for at least three months, told me about Irish country football. He sent me a link to their rules, and now I'm all excited about playing at least one game of that with the kids back at Rose Creek Village when I'm better this summer.

And I'll be able to play, too. I bought a sun protection hat and sun protection sleeves that will allow me to have some ventilation in the summer heat without being affected by the UV rays, which can cause Graft-vs-Host disease (for the rest of my life!!! Aargh!!!). I'll add gloves when I find some I like. For the winter, I'm just going to use my standard winter gloves.

I really don't want to be wearing sun block all the time. I'd just as soon have athletic sun-protection clothing.

What's neat is it's the kind of thing that runners of the Badwater Ultramarathon wear. The Badwater is still the major recovery goal for me. We'll see, that's a pretty drastic goal, but I'm not giving it up yet. For right now, it's a 5K in the summer with my wife. Since I walked three miles total yesterday and biked another, I have some hope that's a highly realistic goal.

You can see the sort of outfits I'm talking about and get a feel for the ultramarathon in this little trailer.

Good day to all of you! Thank you again for the prayers. A nurse practitioner saw me this morning, saw how well I'm doing, heard I walked two miles, and suggested I give lessons for the other patients. It's not lessons and wisdom I have, it's the best support group any cancer patient could possibly have. (Although the part of that support group that is other cancer patients have given me a lot of lessons and wisdom.)


  1. I'm so encouraged and impressed with your commitment to exercise. My transplant coordinator told us that the ones who exercise and keep a positive mental attitude heal the quickest! :) She also told me that the MD Anderson transplant floor team rewards patients who exercise (walks around the floor, going to the yoga class...) with M&M stickers on your door, graduating to a banner, etc. :) As a competitive gal, that was right up my alley! Keep it up, buddy. Irish Country Football is awaiting.

  2. Thanks, Tamara!

    No M&M stickers here, but they do push the exercise. Some follow through; some don't. Your note inspires me to push others just a bit harder to do so.