while I’ve never been a fan of running, it seems that pacing oneself through challenges can be beneficial in many ways.
Finding questions, seeking answers, exuding patience – know these practices create curiosity, connection, and community. They can also foster comfort and calm with challenge as it, although uncertain, becomes familiar.
Spending time getting to know what you need to know can also cultivate a level of recognition that creates trust in the experts to do what they know to do. So that you can focus your energies on all that you can control; your reaction to what is.
Monday morning, positioned under the ultrasound machine awaiting the vascular catheter in my jugular, the nurse prepping me said, “are you okay? You seem pretty calm!” Maybe it was my smile, or maybe he noticed the steady beat of my heart echoing through the room.
My response was, “all good. You do this all day every day. This is just part of the process. I trust you to do a great job. Are you good?” Melvin was surprised – it seems people get pretty stressed about a 10″ tube invading a major artery. It seems my stress would only make things more difficult for everyone, so Jen was zen.
Though uncomfortable, that pain is temporary. For me, the possibilities of HSCT are endless. Why stress about a five minute procedure? I still had six hours of harvest ahead. All I needed to focus on that day was positive flow to harvest the minimum 2 million stem cells for transplant.
After just five hours, the team agreed to cut me off in order to send my collection to the lab for counting. I was hopeful for the next hour that we’d collected enough and I’d be able to leave that vas cath behind overnight…by 6:00 the lead nurse Devon ran in with a high five and a smile to share my count: 8.75 million. It took another 45 minutes to remove the “central line” safely and I’m ever grateful to Krystyna, the former midwife from Poland, for her tender care. Other than the lingering ghost pressure in my neck, I slept very well that night and woke up ready for the next day.
I am so grateful that in my efforts to find questions and seek answers, I’ve found a community of HSCT veterans and hopefuls, some of them local. Their stories and questions resonate beyond familiarity or comfort; they offer solace and belonging.
Knowing what lies ahead helps me ground in the now, be present with what is, and fully enjoy my time before I head back for the final phase.
Knowing the chemo will likely cause my hair to fall out in a matter of days, like many other HSCT warriors, I chose to own this reality.
I am ever grateful to Joe J. Johnson, my hair guru and the only man to touch my hair for 18 years, for making the choice a fun one.
Onward and upward, one step at a time.
be kind. be zen. be well.