Note: Please reference How I Met Your Mother Season 5 Episode 14 to my inspiration for this piece (including the parts I lifted word for word) and the idea of A Perfect Week. Thanks to Monique for the idea.
Nantz: Hello, friends. Every sport has had an icon who transcends the game. Boxing had Ali, basketball had Jordan. But the sport of going to the hospital all the time has my next guest, the blogger known as Au Soleil Levant. Soleil, welcome to the show.
Me: Thanks Jim, thanks for having me.
Nantz: Soleil, the stats really speak for themselves here. Five and a half years, two continents, two states, four different hospitals, five separate month-long hospital stays, five week-long hospital stays, countless hours spent in clinic for routine checkups. It’s impressive. With all these accomplishments though, there’s one laurel that’s always eluded you. Which brings us to last week.
Me: I already had two appointments set up for the week. On Monday I saw the ophthalmologist who takes care of my transplant-related eye issues. It was a normal visit. He thought my eyes looked good.
Nantz: So Day One was pretty routine.
Me: Jim, there is nothing routine about the way I work it at the hospital.
Nantz: Respect. Tell us what happened later that day.
Me: Later that afternoon I got a call from the ECP clinic. I’d been on the waiting list for a couple of weeks and a spot had opened up. ECP is usually scheduled two days in a row every two weeks. They had an opening for Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, so I took them.
Nantz: Even though you already had a routine check up scheduled with your oncologist on Tuesday morning?
Me: Jim, ECP spots are at a premium. I took the Wednesday and Thursday slots.
Nantz: Now Day Two, Tuesday, was when things started to fall into place.
Me: Tuesday was a pretty epic day in and of itself. I showed up at clinic expecting a rather routine visit, but as you know Jim, I’d been having trouble with my platelets. My bone marrow is under a lot of stress and hasn’t been producing them. I’d been getting frequent platelet transfusions.
Nantz: And there are many possible reasons for this platelet problem. It’s enough to drive someone crazy.
Me: Yes Jim, yes it is. Anyway, of course my platelets were low and I had to get a transfusion, which means a lot of waiting. Waiting for a chair in infusion to open up, waiting for the platelets to come up from the blood bank, waiting for the premedication to take effect, waiting for it to finish, and then you have to wait around for a half an hour afterward to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Nantz: But at least they have warm blankets and drinks and bagels.
Me: Yeah, those warm blankets are really awesome. But I can’t eat the bagels. Hate steroids.
Nantz: Word. But Tuesday was the day when you knew you were headed for something special.
Me: Yes it was, Jim. My doctor decided to schedule me to get my platelets checked again on Friday to see if I would need a transfusion. And that was when I knew. I knew I was headed for A Perfect Week. Five days, five hospital visits, five treatments.
Nantz: A remarkable accomplishment. And yet some might say it’s been a long time coming. It’s taken you over five and a half years to get to this point. Soleil, I do have to ask, did you use performance enhancing drugs to finally, finally, achieve this long awaited goal?
Me: Ummm…. I’m not sure “long awaited” is the way I would describe the cancer patient’s version of The Perfect Week. I think “dreaded” and “unlooked for” are more accurate terms. As far as performance enhancing drugs go, I think I have to say yes, because I wouldn’t have achieved this without the help of hard drugs like Clofarabine, Busulfan, Mylotarg, and of course the ‘roids. So sue me. Call me to testify before Congress. But I will swear to it that anyone who says they can accomplish The Perfect Week without performance enhancing drugs is a liar!
Nantz: I don’t think anyone would say that your performance has been anything less than honest and by the rules. I’m sorry I asked.
Me: No offense taken Jim. Sadly it’s a question that must be asked. No sport has escaped the stain of doping scandals, and I’m sorry to say that cancer patients have set the example with our excessive use of chemotherapy and steroids. Not that we wanted to, but you know, Barry Bonds had to get the idea somewhere.
Nantz: I have heard rumors that Barry Bonds was inspired to use steroids by seeing an emaciated, bald cancer patient become a fat slab of blubber through their use of steroids. Going back to your accomplishment though, which will never be tainted by allegations of illegal doping. Day Three did not go exactly as you had hoped.
Me: No it didn’t. I had to get another blood draw before ECP on Wednesday to make sure that my platelets were high enough for treatment.
Nantz: And of course they weren’t.
Me: Of course. So instead of ECP I had another platelet transfusion and was scheduled for yet another blood draw the next morning at freaking early o’clock, again to make sure my platelets were high enough for treatment.
Nantz: And they finally were.
Me: Yes, they finally were, so I had the ECP treatment and got ready to put my game face on for Day Five.
Nantz: Were you nervous going into Day Five? Did you think that you might break under the pressure? Did you worry that this prize might slip away from you in the last few minutes?
Me: Well, considering the fact that I live ten minutes from the hospital, barring a truly massive snowstorm, like 20 inches falling overnight, I knew I was safe.
Nantz: And did Day Five go as planned?
Me: Of course. I got some platelets. Had to go back again on Sunday for more, in fact, as I had done the week before.
Nantz: And how has the platelet situation been this week?
Me: Better than last week but still not resolved. I got transfused on Tuesday and I’m scheduled to go in on Friday with the possibility of going in on Sunday again.
Nantz: What on earth is wrong with your platelets?
Me: In general, my bone marrow is under a lot of stress. It’s been beat up pretty badly over the past few months and is probably screaming “Leave me the hell alone already! I wasn’t the organ with cancer cells in it! Why are you doing this to me?!?!”
Nantz: An understandable sentiment.
Me: I think we can all sympathize with my bone marrow. It could also be GVHD, it could be because of some of my medications, it could be a few other things. We’ll see what happens on Friday.
Nantz: Soleil, it’s been such a pleasure having you with us. Best of luck in avoiding another Perfect Week.
Me: Thanks Jim. If I do have another Perfect Week, I’ll be sure to let you know.