Friday, October 10, 2008

"I check my luck in the mirror" Bruce Springsteen

How many roads must a man walk down
Before they call him a man

Bob Dylan

Tracey ask for a line from the "boss", so I thought I"d use it as a way to glide into how do we measure time and progress.

Today is day 101. My risk of TRM (transplant related mortality) is falling faster than real estate prices in California.  I still have about a 1/10 chance of not seeing my rebirthday, the next Canada Day or July 1. But I had that same risk spread over the only first 3 months as I do now over the next 9. Anyway, statistics are for groups. They do not predict individual outcomes. Survival, and its opposite and not percentage. They are 100%  I have no doubts about my future. I plan to live to 95. 

So what do you see when you study the computer snapped picture taken yesterday, the day I survived into triple digits. It was taken the evening, when I broke my Yom Kippur fast, to send to my dad whose only internet access is when someone visits him with their laptop. Unlike in the past, I think you would all agree that my smile isn't forced, even it was held a moment too long. Why should it be? I'm here. Like Abraham, I'm here.  The clinician in you sees no jaundice or pallor. Close examination reveals no thinned skin with the tiny blood vessels that creep to the surface from long term steroids. I've been off steroids for over a year.

My cheeks aren't sunken, my eyes aren't bloody, and hair ain't still gone. 

I check my luck in the mirror.  All leukemia and lymphoma patients will tell you how they check the mirror.  Any new swelling or changes? And the shower. Showers can be scary places for those of us who have had cancer in their life. The soapy skin gives up its buried secrets of subcutaneous nodes. We don't want any nasty surprises jumping  up on us when we shower.

But where is the true measure of who I am?  Not a visual inspection or even a careful palpation. Soon those fears will be fragmented memories.

The answer is found in the question: Why I been given this extended contract? That's the operative word. Contract! It implies mutual obligations. 

Soon, so soon I can smell it, I will not be constantly lurching forward like some cancer equivalent of the Jacob Marley. The leukemia will not be peering back at me in the mirror. It is losing its power already. I think it's gone. Of course, I am still patiently waiting for my engraftment results, so the path is not fully clear yet.  Monday we learn. Then only 57 more months to go, before I let down my guard.

But change must also come from within. 

The prophet, Micah cuts to the bone and makes it clear what the contract demands.

Do justice, Love  mercy, Walk humbly with G-d

How well I do on those three is my true measure.

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Blogger Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Congratulations on reaching another milestone. I'm all for celebrating all along the way.

Brian, you keep mentioning being on guard. I am curious: How does "being on guard" affect your daily life, positively or negatively?

With hope, Wendy

October 11, 2008 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Judy Cleri said...

Congratulations Dr. K,

What an exciting day.....and I know there will be more to come.

Now, do you think you might be able to do something about my poor Ducks? They look pretty sad the last few games.

Prayers and blessing coming your way....

October 13, 2008 at 6:56 AM  

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