Monday, June 08, 2009

Day Ten

It is quarter to nine in the morning and I have endured my morning lab stab (5:30 AM), vitals (5:40 AM), questions about my various excretions (5:45 AM), my initial morning drugs (1 IV, 2 pills, 6:00 AM), morning shift change conference (6:15 AM), short snooze, breakfast tray arrival (6:45 AM), eat while listening to NPR, first doc conference (7:30 AM), arrival of home made coffee and morning papers (thanks M, 7:45 AM), read and visit over coffee, second doc conference (8:30 AM), second round of morning meds (8:45 AM), nebulizer treatment (8:55 AM), and now quiet as I sit propped up in bed with laptop in it's named spot, writing and looking out the window directly in front of me at a quintessential Duluth day where all is gray and whitecaps.

I get to go home today.

I imagine that my morning will go something like this: shower and fresh gown (no real clothes here), finish reading papers, maybe a walk to the cafeteria for more coffee while waiting for discharge orders to be written. These orders will be volumnuous, full of prescriptions, schedules and followup appointments. My primary physician will have to return to the hospital to sign off on these - probably over the noon time.

In the meantime, I will sit, and think, and look out the window at one of the reasons why I wanted to move back here in the first place, and write.

First, the lake.

If you have never seen it, it is difficult to understand the emensity of it all. It is a vast and ancient thing that rules the weather for this part of the land. Its moods and natures shape the lives of those who live upon her shores. I grew up breathing the mist lifted from the tops of the white spume that crashed upon the broken shoulders of the mountain range that defines the northern shore of this inland sea, a range that at one time was mighty as the Himilayias are now, but that have been worn down by time and epochs and glaciers and rain and the ceaseless pounding of the waves.

I have sailed its expanses, swum along its edges, known its absolute indifference to my existence, and have learned the meaning of terror while caught in its fury. This inland sea became a part of me that has called to me whenever I have been away from it.

Now, I sit seven floors up in a hospital room looking out of a picture window at an expanse of gray, flecked with whitecaps that mark seven to eight foot waves rolling in from the northeast. If I could see further to my right, I would see them flinging themselves upon the breakwalls and riff-raff that line the shore of Duluth's waterfront. Only the most hearty and foolish will be walking the shoreline boardwalk today and they had better be well dressed for it.

I cannot see the Wisconsin shore which I know is directly in front of me across the narrow expanse of water. The sky, a slightly lighter shade of gray meets the water in a zone that is ambiguous - impossible to tell where the elements finally separate. I am anxious to set my feet outside of this neutral cocoon that has sheltered me these last ten days. I want to feel the wind driven rain on my face. I want to hear the boom of the waves as they repeatedly attempt to turn 100 thousand ton chunks of ancient basault into tiny grains of sand. I want to smell the spume.

Of course, the battle that has gone on here, high above the roiling waters, has not been without its adventures and the outcome is not yet known for sure. One week ago, I was closer to death than I have been in many years. I did not tell anyone of my suspicions. After all, it was only some fevers and coughing, but I knew. I knew that if we did not find a new mix of hokum-pokum, my lungs would continue to fill and I would drown in a lake of my own. One without any of the poetry of the giant one outside my window.

Foretunately, I was being cared for by some very wise and experienced shamans who did find that special combination of things that reversed the course of my illness and allowed me to sit here today writing this to you. One of the things that was done however leaves a large question mark smack dab in front of me. We stopped the experimental chemo drug I was doing as part of the Mayo trial. The chemo drug that reversed the relentless march of my Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The drug that has allowed me to live again. What will this mean? The answer to that is unknown to me at this point.

Once I am home, comfortably ensconced in an overstuffed chair or pet-hairy sofa, with all of my prescription orders in front of me, I will call the Mayo and ask "what's next." I imagine that I will travel down there for a conference with all of my reports and analysese from the last ten days (or maybe not if the outcome is a simple one). What ever happens, I have dodged a nearby bullet and am profoundly greatful. Nothing makes life seem so sweet as to feel the sticky hand of death on the back of your neck.

So, here I sit looking out on weather that I am sure is causing great grumbling and knashing of teeth because it is cold, windy, rainy and not the kind of soft spring day we all wish for, but for me, it is a great day and I am chomping at the bit to get out into it.

Best to you all.


Blogger Kristie said...

I don't know what to say. I'm glad they've kicked the infection and I'm holding my breath on the chemo, and crossing my fingers, too.

As for the lake, I offer a hearty "Amen." I, too, grew up on the Great Lakes, starting with that one, and my family has lived around it for generations. Every time I come up over the hill from the south and see it for the first time on any given trip, it takes my breath away, and I realize how much I missed it. I will be up nort' nexzt month, though we'll be out in Solon Springs, and I probably won't see it for who knows how long again. I'm a little sorry about that. You can move away from the lake, but it always stays inside you.

10:51 AM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Linda said...

Hooray!!!! Glad that you will be home. I know how you feel about the lake. I am in Michigan. I look at Lake Huron almost everyday. And when we go up north, there is nothing grander than Lake Superior!!
It changes everyday. We were up there last August and the temp was 38 one morning, with the waves crashing in. Breath taking!!

12:33 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger lime said...

believe me i have no desire to be in competition with you in a race to the real terminus even though it must seem like i have some sort of death wish.

i wondered about the trials and feared the situation with finding the right cocktail to send the infection away.

i am so glad the shamans succeeded in stopping the infection. praying now the trials can be resumed and you can be restored to the strength needed to stand in the spray of your inland sea and relish in the feeling of life outside the 4 walls of a hospital room.

and dammit, they do owe you a serious discount for you taking your own vitals and marking them on your chart. bloody hell, i've had to do similar things and it does make you want to send them an invoice doesn't it?

let's get ourselves strong and have a raise a drink to each other soon, ok?

much love
and many thanks for your kind words at my place...

5:35 PM, June 08, 2009  
Blogger Cheesy said...

I for one am glad you get to go home... that means you're still with us~ Which is HUGE! Enjoy the nasty weather but stay out of harms way dear one.

10:00 PM, June 09, 2009  
Blogger Moosekahl said...

I'm not getting my yearly trip to the Lake this year. I always feel better when I top the hill on the interstate and see what my grandma called "her lake". No Grandma's Marathon med tent for me. Instead I'll be helping with the midnight sun run here in AK.

9:36 PM, June 11, 2009  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Home yet?

8:57 AM, June 12, 2009  

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