Yet another stunning wolf illustration, this one by the eight-year-old son of our good friend Shivaun. Thanks, Emmett!
I wanted to pass along three pieces of excellent news. After hitting a very low point (spirit and stamina-wise) last week and watching my red blood cell counts carry on a serious flirtation with girl-you-need-a-transfusion territory, I rebounded enough over the weekend to stare a new wolf in his great big teeth yesterday (or to dare a few sideways glances, anyway - hey, no fear, no courage, right?).
The prospect of my first Taxol treatment scared me badly. For most people, it's much more tolerable (especially on the weekly regimen that we're trying) than AC, but it can in rare cases be dangerous to deadly. Funnily (?) enough, the problem doesn't lie so much in the (yew-tree-derived) poison itself but in its being neither water nor fat-soluble; the formula currently in wide use delivers the drug on the back of a solvent that can unpredictably trigger immediate and powerful allergic reactions in an unlucky few. (In another few years, patients may not have to take the same gamble. There's a relatively new formulation that binds the drug to albumin - egg protein - but it remains under patent at thousands of dollars per dose.) Because I've had three cases of hives since my diagnosis (and shingles last summer), I was more alert than I might have been to online horror stories of emergency resuscitations and spells in the ICU.
It was reassuring to learn from Bob that Mom never had a problem with the drug, as my allergies have tracked hers pretty closely. They did here, too. Not even the ghost of a reaction, thank goodness. I had some moderate "anticipatory nausea" for the duration of my time in the infusion room (a common Pavlovian phenomenon), but it dissipated almost as soon as I got out. Since then I've experienced no major ill effects, apart from some intense fatigue yesterday afternoon and some equally intense wakefulness beginning at three this morning (This is likely a combination of steroid-mania and an enduring hot flash - very weird to be severely anemic and flushed, as if all my remaining red blood cells got lonely and decided to call a party in my cheeks. I look like a kewpie doll minus the lick of hair.) Early days yet, and the fatigue is pretty well guaranteed to increase, but in quality it's so far much less fearsome than what the AC and its pharmaceutical accompaniments caused - it doesn't have that flu-like, miserably achy edge. We had our first truly warm day of spring yesterday, and this time when I retired with Barley to the couch for an afternoon doze, I opened the window wide and reveled in the sweet breeze and the sounds of birdsong.
The day got better: I learned when I woke that the folks at Oregon Humanities liked my proposal well enough to invite me into the second and final stage of the application process, a half-hour interview with a four-person panel. They'll be calling to schedule it for the end of the week following this one. (Impressive alacrity!) I'm totally delighted and not a little nervous, given that the bar holding my brain on a rickety ride has been locked for months. (I'm thinking of the old wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park in San Diego, minus the ocean views.) I can only hope that I put my best foot forward on paper and that whatever mental steam I can call upon at the interview suffices to carry me through. I just really love the whole project and the prospect of talking wolves.
As if all that weren't enough to celebrate, Meg (my sister), Mike (her husband), and Maya (their youngest, four) fly out late tomorrow for a few days' (low-key) fun and catch-up. A big part of my Taxol fear centered around their visit, and the question of whether there'd be anything left of me to enjoy it. Thus a big part of my feeling so damn good today is my optimism that there will be. Plus the taxes are almost done, and I'm taking myself out to the local bar for some garlic bread, spaghetti, and fútbol. (Madrid plays Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Hala Alonso! Hala Madrid!)
E forza tutti!