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Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris

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celebration

Best Christmas EVER!

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I can’t help but look back at the year and happily wave ~ “b-bye.” As you can imagine, there’s no love lost between me and 2016. January began with a biopsy that confirmed the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had returned and was followed by twice-weekly chemo over the next five months. July 26 I entered the Allo Transplant Unit and two weeks later I wheeled out so fast I completely forgot to don the required face mask.

September and October meant numerous trips to and from the hospital each week for blood work, transfusions, infusions, imaging and routine checks. Fortunately by November, the time between visits had lengthened. I got my flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine, which gave me a bit more confidence to venture out. So by the time December rolled around, I began negotiating with providers concerning what I could do/what I couldn’t do in the future. It was really hard to hear that it would be a full year post-transplant (August 2017) before I would have my doctor’s clearance to resume life, in other words, my new normal.

By any stretch of the imagination, 2016 was definitely not the year of Dee. But there was a light near the end of my tunnel. Christmas was fast approaching, and I wanted, I needed the family to make new memories to replace the old ones. But with our eldest flying to the West Coast on the 27th and public school closing the afternoon of the 23rd, we had little time for all the plans I’d made. I had to get creative. We crammed days of activities into one: seeing a movie; having lunch; and gathering around the kitchen island to make peppermint bark; bake Chex Mix ; and simmer “real hot cocoa. It tasted and smelled like Christmas.

But this was the Best Christmas EVER!

You know – that Christmas when you tear open a box to reveal the perfect present that you asked for, but didn’t know just how much you wanted it UNTIL you finally got it. Remember Ralphy in “A Christmas Story?” Magical, like THAT, but at an age when you don’t think you’ll ever experience another magical holiday. Your kids are teenagers; you’ve witnessed another season of commercial crap; and almost nobody says “Merry Christmas.” It may look like Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it inside.

Until the unimaginable happened.

The kind of thing that takes a nano-second for your brain to catch up with what your eyes have just seen – and one of them has GOT to be lying! Because when I looked up, it didn’t immediately register that my mother and my sister were both standing in my family room, having flown in from Houston to surprise me on Christmas Eve.

Did I mention this was the Best Christmas EVER??!! No gift, no amount of money could have produced the joy I felt during the 48 hours of their visit. Apparently I’d been asking my sister for a Christmas visit for the past several months. I just hadn’t realized it.

Sometimes, we get exactly what we want for Christmas before knowing how much we want it. Sometimes the year doesn’t end as bleakly as it began.

Thank God!! and Happy New Year!

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Day +14: Returning Home

I am so happy to be home.

There is no better place for me to recover the next 100 days of my journey. I have my family in one place; can sleep in my own bed; and don’t have the constant interruptions of nurses and techs throughout the night. My taste buds are returning to normal, and although I am fatigued, I know that this too shall pass.

Like a fading memory, I recall being pushed in a wheelchair, through the double doors of the negative pressured BMT (bone marrow transplant) Unit and not looking back. It was the first time I’d been beyond those doors since Day -5 of my hospitalization.

So, for the next 100 days, I have the following marching orders: NO public transportation, restaurants, alcohol, sick people, and crowds.YES to covering my mouth with a mask; using hand washing/sanitizing; and to contacting the transplant help line if I develop one of any number of symptoms. (Kinda sounds like dealing with a toddler, more “NO, you can’t” than “YES, you cans”.)

It is a far cry from my early days in the hospital when I questioned my commitment to receiving the transplant. I am light years away from barely being able to raise my head from the pillow or eat solid food. I can get out of bed, everyday, with my own strength. And I go to bed knowing, that while I might not get uninterrupted sleep, at least I won’t be dragging around Cinnamon – my infusion pole.

I’m finally home, trying to shake the memory of the entire 22-day hospital stay. I assumed the past three weeks would be automatically erased at the sight of my family and being home. Instead, it’s a process, one that I expect will become easier with each passing day.

 

The Social Comparison of New Year’s Eve

I awoke early this morning, intent on doing two things: read my bible and check my Facebook news feed. Believe me, those two tasks don’t usually go together, but I was eager to see how our friends and family rang in the New Year. I willingly risked the “Facebook depression, low self-esteem and bitter jealousy” that (reportedly) comes from “social comparison.” You might not know it by that name, but it’s when we look at people’s Facebook posts (i.e., a BEST OF reel) and then compare it to our boring, ordinary lives. (Guess it’s a good thing I read my bible first!)

I eagerly scanned my news feed to answer the Who? Where? and How? questions of New Year’s Eve.

From fishing to fireworks, you marked the passing of the old into the new wearing everything from party dresses and dinner jackets to jeans and pajamas. Paper top hats, blinged-out tiaras and confetti covered your heads while balloons covered the walls, floors and ceilings. You raised Champagne flutes, beer cans and noise makers high overhead, or you sank into a comfy couch with bowls of popcorn.  You celebrated abroad and close to home, really close to home…like AT HOME.

Whatever you chose to do last night, you did it in the company of that special someone, your kids, extended family, church members, friends, neighbors, college roommates and frat brothers. I saw you surrounded by LOVE, even if you chose to be alone because you love yourself enough to give/receive the gift of self-reflection.

“Social Comparison?”Maybe a little, but I’m neither depressed, experiencing low self-esteem or bitter jealousy. I only see the love.

HAPPY NEW YEAR loved ones!

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