Leukemia · LiFe

Let's Rodeo!

Here’s the thing… I’ve done this before. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know all about social distancing, quarantine, and sheltering in place.

In 2010 I came down with a case of Leukemia. Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia to be exact. From the moment I arrived at the oncology unit I was on lock-down. No person with even the slightest possibility of a cold could come in my room. Even people who had been around someone who might have had a cold couldn’t come near me. There were strict protocols for everything. People wore masks to see me (except Karen, who was with me all the time and not sick so she was cleared to be in there without one). I couldn’t eat any fresh fruits or vegetables (there could be dirt microbes my body could not fight off). I couldn’t get flowers or plants delivered to me. I couldn’t really let people touch me. Everyone wore gloves around me if they were going to touch me. There were signs on my door to warn people.

When I went home, after that first month in the hospital, I had similar protocols. No plants in the house, no fresh fruits or vegetables in the house, no visitors with colds or who had been around anyone with a cold. I had to wear a mask when I went in to get my blood-work done. I wasn’t supposed to touch anything. I was socially distanced and isolated.

This went on very strictly for four months. Four months people. The entire time I was going through the hardcore Chemo protocol. Every month after that first one (when I was in the entire month) I would go back into the hospital for a week-long stay to get the chemo over the course of several days depending on what round I was on. When my numbers started to come up after each round I was released home, but on the same strict protocols. No people, no plants, no going out without a mask.

I missed my first grandson’s birth. I was supposed to be there. I couldn’t travel. Everyone pitched in. My Mom came and stayed with me that fourth month so Karen could go and be there when Sebastian was born. Sacrifices were made.

After those first four months, when I finally got the miraculous all-clear and could take the deep breath I hadn’t been able to for months, I was still not really in the clear. I had two years of consolidation rounds (milder rounds of low dose chemotherapy for patients who appear to be in remission). I was on varying rounds of three different medications. Those medications, though not nearly as strong, effected my immune system a bit, my energy level a lot, and there were still rules. The rules weren’t as strict, but rules just the same.

Here’s the thing, I know this, what we’re doing right now. I’ve done it. I did it to keep myself alive, and those around me did it to keep me alive. The people that loved me had no problem wearing masks around me, if necessary, or staying away if required. As I said, I was on lock-down. Quarantine. Isolated. Distanced. I missed a lot, but… I lived. People sacrificed for me, but… I lived.

If I could do that for four months and beyond, and if the people in my life could do it for me for four months and beyond, then we can do it now. We can buck up and damn well do it. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone in our circle, in our communities, in our country, and the world.

Let’s help each other. Let’s take the bull by the horns and do this thing. Let’s rodeo!

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