Today is a super amazing awesome incredible celebratory day.
I feel like, instead of sitting here wrapping, elevating, and icing my swollen ankle, I should be drinking champagne with my family and screaming CHEERS! WE DID IT EVERYBODY!
And I will.
When I’m not clambering around on crutches, treading anti-inflamitories.
So here’s the thing.
A few years ago my body staged an illicit suicide attempt and almost succeeded.
But it did not. Thanks to 12 generous strangers to whom I will be eternally indebted to.
Since then I have been symptomatic in a handful of ways.
Which is a really extra anxiety-inducing way to live.
I have learned how to stop freaking out every time I break out into hives or turn weird colours, or feel like I’m on fire, or inflate, or become food-intolerant for weeks at a time, or lose 10 pounds in 3 days and gain it back in 4, or feel like there are spiders crawling all over my face, or go bald, or lose all sensation in my digits etc…
I mean, I still lie awake some nights, rocking back and forth, forcing myself to try to think about kittens and lollipops while trying, rather unsuccessfully, to fight the urge to get up every three minutes to pee, weigh myself, and check my complexion in the mirror… or against that of my sleeping daughter’s, by the light of her night-light…
But I’ve mostly stopped giving everyone the play-by-play, and asking strangers if I look unusually yellow or red, and I am usually able to refrain from googling images of my symptoms.
It really didn’t help that I had to have had billions of blood tests since my original admittance to the hospital. First daily, then weekly, then monthly, then tri-monthly, then bi-annually.
Each visit, having blood drawn, then sitting in the ever-so-uplifting oncology waiting room (which is irrelevant to my situation but just happens to be where my hematologist is located) for my results, and most often, a referral for more tests.
Maybe it’s, Lupus, Crohn’s, hemochromatosis, Lupus, Hashimoto’s, it looks Lupusy, let’s check for that again…
It came to the point where I almost didn’t even care what the diagnosis was anymore, as long as it didn’t mean being re-admitted and transfused for weeks and weeks all over again. The test I cared the most about was the hemoglobin count.
But today. Today was different. Today, something awesome and amazing happened at the hematologist’s office.
Today my doctor uttered these words to me:
“Jennifer, you can always call me if there is anything going on that concerns you, but I don’t think you need to come and see me anymore”
And then she hugged me.
And I hugged her back.
All casual, like it was nothing.
And I went about my day.
And a couple of hours later, I abruptly broke down weeping.
I’m not sure why.
I’m not cured.
I’m still symptomatic.
I haven’t been in any extreme immediate danger for a couple of years.
But just hearing her say that I didn’t have to check in anymore “unless you want to”, it just brought this overwhelming sense of relief.
I can’t explain it.
I can only say that today, when I got home. I flashed back to what started all of this in the first place. And I felt so sad and happy and grateful all at the same time.
I am so deeply grateful to the 12 generous strangers whose blood kept me alive until my own body could make enough of its own.
I am so very very thankful to Franky who lived in the chair (and a gown and mask) next to my hospital bed for the first week (until he got kicked out for having a cold) that I was there, holding my hand, staying strong, and reminding me every single day to fight.
I am so very very thankful to my poor scared girls who had a long hard wait for their mama to come home and to my mom for (mostly) keeping them in line until that happened.
I am so deeply grateful to my family and friends who were there by my side, cheering me on, feeding and watching over my kids, painting my house, bringing me chocolates and sending me flowers and well wishes, offering me their blood and their bone marrow (the latter of the two being entirely unnecessary and kind of gross) and praying for me and my family while I was in the hospital.
And I am so grateful for the amazing team of doctors who persisted, even when they were baffled, frustrated, and losing optimism.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Cheers! We did it everybody.