Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's a Merry Christmas

Lindsay has a huge shamrock plant that she's had for a very long time. It's a magnificant plant with broad leaves that open and close as the day runs it's course. Last fall, as the economy and the country's sense of confidence and well-being went into the toilet, the shamrock acquired some sort of shamrock disease. The plant became weak and started losing it's color. Bugs invaded it and it appeared as though the shamrock was doomed.

Lindsay happens to be very good with things that grow. She did some research and learned about methods she could try to revive her prized plant. I came home one day and the shamrock had been thinned and cut way back. She had applied a pesticide to rid the plant of bugs. Now it became a matter of regular watering and watching to see how the silent plant friend would respond.

Over the next several weeks, maybe months, the shamrock started to come to life. I didn't really notice but the leaves became thicker and a deeper green. The plant was getting healthy.

With the economy in the toilet our business was also down the drain. Lindsay and I were feeling great stress about the prospect of our main source of income being down the drain and my pending unemployment from my skiing job. One gray spring morning we were sitting in the kitchen sharing our thoughts of dread and gloom when at the same time we noticed that right in the middle of our newly revived and flourishing shamrock, was a single white flower.

The realization that we had noticed this sign of health and life stopped our conversation immediately. I think we both had a tear in our eye because here, right in front of us, was a profound symbol of rebirth. The shamrock that had been on death's door was alive and well. For me it was affirmation that things were going to get better.

As it turns out, the shamrock is a metaphor for a far more important return to health. Since late September and early October we have seen Clyde experience a very similar metamorphosis. A woman that was thin and weak and gray is now bright and strong and full of life. Her fears and apprehensions about her future and longetivity are turning to excitement and anticipation for what a healthy life holds for her.

We all understand that Clyde is not yet out of the woods. While her current health is better than it's been in years we still don't know about the anti-cancer effects of the transplant. That's to be determined in the next few weeks. We do know that now there is a good chance for recovery and health and that alone is the type of miracle that we hear and talk so much about at this time of year.

The flower in the shamrock didn't represent the business recovery Lindsay and I were thinking about when we noticed it. Instead it was a symbol for something far more significant. When compared to a picture I took of Clyde in Kay's kitchen at the end of September to one taken by Rooch on Monday, I can see a white flower among the lush leaves of a reborn plant.

Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for prayers and good wishes all year.

Be well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beginning of a New Chapter?

It's been a while since you've been updated on Clyde's condition. I spoke with her yesterday as I always do on the days she visits the clinic. She had an appointment with Dr. Longo on Thursday and was again very excited by how well he thinks things are going. When you're facing a procedure like a t-cell transplant that cannot be undone, you're putting a lot of trust in your medical team. That's been Clyde's life for the last few months so she hangs on the words coming out of Longo's mouth. He is nothing but positive.

The blood work shows that all of her counts are steady or rising. The key markers are in the "normal" range. They are continuing to cut back on Prednisone and are happy with how her body and "my" cells are playing together. We're getting to the point when I should stop referring to her blood cells as "mine." (the period is inside the quotation marks, Lance, did I do that right?) At this point she has new bone marrow that is producing new blood cells all the time. Those cells are hers and only hers. It's absolutely amazing if you ask me. Our entire family walks around shaking our heads in disbelief at how fortunate we've been through the process. I can only imagine how Clyde feels.

I do know that she feels well enough to go to work for a couple of hours a few days a week. I'm afraid that people will see her out and think that she's out of the woods and all healed. She's not, yet. When she reported to her doctor that she was feeling head congestion he immediately prescribed antibiotics - strong antibiotics and lots of them. Infections still need to be beaten down swiftly and soundly as no one really knows how strong her immune system is.

Despite a head full of snot, Clyde feels well. I don't know if you know anyone like this, but when I talk to Clyde I can hear her appreciation for health and life in every word. She is a person that is living every moment in the way it should be lived. What a lesson that is for the rest of us. We all gripe about this and that when in fact we should recognize the miracle that is every moment. We should all do ourselves a favor and get on Clyde's bandwagon of moment-by-moment celebration for life.

In about six weeks we'll get results from a complete examination of Clyde's health that will tell us if her new blood is working against the cancer. I'm already feeling anxious about it. I get the sense that while it's in the back of Clyde's mind, she's just looking forward to tomorrow. Awesome.

Be well.