*As always, thank you so much for the flood of support in comments, voicemails, texts, emails, prayers and everything else. You all are amazing.
As part of the initial stages of my treatment, I was held up in the UW Medical center near Husky football stadium for the past 5 days and now I’m finally unhooked from my IV’s and back at home in Federal Way where I’ll be living for the duration of this process. That’s right, I’m back living with my ol’ roommates (mom and dad) for the time being!
But all jokes aside, I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Between my mom – who has basically turned this house into the hand sanitizer isle of Costco – my dad – who is cooking me meals and kicking my ass in cribbage – my sister – who is a nurse herself at Seattle Children’s Hospital and speaks technical doc-talk – and my girlfriend Larissa – who is a trooper and will be putting in some serious I-5 miles coming down to see me – I have it really good here.
I also have my dog Bruce living with me full-time for the first time since I got a big-boy job and moved to the city. He’s been glued to my side ever since I got home, it’s really good to have him around.
A couple quick news bulletins for what’s been happening this past week.
1) Good News: No Leukemia in my spine or brain fluid!
I actually don’t know what the consequences would have been if I did, in fact, have Leukemic cells in my spine and brain fluid (I didn’t ask), but this is good news. I’ll still have to get chemo injected into my spine something like 15 times over the course of treatment just as a precaution.
Getting my first lumbar puncture was a bit of a funny story in itself. The hospital I was staying at is also a training hospital, and it just so happened that I was the practice field for the day. To get a lumbar puncture, they make you lay on your side in the fetal position, they numb your back up, and have to get a needle between your vertebra into your spine so they can get some fluid out.
Sounds gross right? Well it sounds worse than it actually is, because it wasn’t all too painful. What was painful, however, was having to listen to the senior doctor coach the 1st year through the procedure.
“Yep, you’re hitting the bone there, you need to readjust your angle…”
I’m pretty bad with needles in the first place, so having to hear the play-by-play was pretty rough. At one point, I had to ask, “Can’t you guys use code words or something?”
In the end everything went smoothly and I’m glad the 1st year doc got a chance to get some practice time in – everyone needs to learn sometime right?
2) Two Rounds of Chemo In
*My amazing aunt Stephanie made these kick-ass “Battling with Brock” bands for me! Orange is the Leukemia Awareness color – I have a big bag of these if you want one just let me know and I’ll try to find a way to get you one. Credit Craig Cincotta for the sweet wrist modeling 🙂
Apparently for ALL Leukemia, the first 28 days of treatment are really important and are indicative of which direction the remainder of my treatment will go. For the first month, I get hit with a one-two punch of chemo drugs and steroids to knock out those pesky white blood cells and at the end of the process, we will check my bone marrow to see what’s happening.
For all intensive purposes, my blood counts look good and are on the right path as of day 11 when I’m posting this (yay!), but according to my doc the hard part isn’t actually killing the Leukemia – it’s making sure it never comes back after this whole process is over (which is why treatment for this will last much longer than 28 days, probably closer to 9 months I’m told).
So what does that mean? For the next couple weeks, I’m basically playing it as safe as I can with my health. I have no immune system, so as much as I’d love to be snacking down on peanuts with my buddies in the crowded M’s beer garden, eating conveyor-belt sushi, or just swimming in the lake – I just can’t get sick right now.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get bit more on the wild side after this stage of treatment, but until then – it looks like I’ll be trading handshakes for fist-bumps 🙂
3) See you later hair
Chemotherapy also kills off rapidly reproducing cells, my white blood cells being some of the fastest in the bunch. Unfortunately, hair cells also tend to reproduce pretty quickly, so those get killed off too and when that happens, eventually your hair falls out.
Lucky for me, Larissa specializes in cutting mens hair (why else do you think my hair looked so great all the time?), so she brought over the sheers to cut off all my head hair on our own terms. We left the eyebrows because it would be a shame if I didn’t actually lose those and cut them off early – don’t want to jump the gun 🙂
*On a side note, I’ll probably embarrass Larissa by adding this but if you want a sweet skullet like me or just want a great haircut in general, Larissa cuts men’s and women’s hair at Zo Salon in Kirkland – go see her she’s awesome and she is taking clients 🙂
When this is all over, my hair could actually come back a different color, thicker, or really curly or something. Not sure how it will effect my receding hairline – but we can only hope for the best 🙂
Thanks again for checking in. Overall, I’ve generally been feeling ok and in good spirits this week and your support is a huge part of that.
Until next time,