Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Infusion Time Again

And I am no talking green tea infusions.

Tomorrow, I return to the Infusion Center  at the Cancer Clinic for the first time in over a year, the first time since I was discharged for my transplant last July. I am back for my old friend, the ultimate protein shake: Intravenous Immunoglobulin or IVIG as it is known to its fans and detractors.

It is a pooled blood product, screened and cleaned for all KNOWN infectious agents. The operative word is KNOWN. Could some unknown prion or virus be lurking, ready to strike in 20 years or the next time I might be neutropenic (low neutrophils or one type of white blood cells that fight infection)? Could be, but the track record over the last decades is perfect. No reason to expect trouble now. Plus I am planning on never being neutropenic again.

With my lowered immunity and the bugs in the air these days and the days to come, the risk of me dying from a pneumonia or the flu is pretty real and much more present. There is only the present, the Zen master teaches.

I will act on the known and not fear the unknown. IVIG here I come. No last minute cancellations this time around.

But being back in the "chair" at the Cancer Center is a stark reminder of my scary past when I alway wore long sleeves to hide the IV marks from my multiple treatments and lived in fear about what my next platelet count would show and even, at its darkest moments, if I would wake in the morning. It hints too at my uncertain future. 

And it confronts me with my present vulnerability.

But it is also a bond with the community of those still up to their eyebrows in their cancer fight. Not that I have left the fold. I pledge that I will never leave  the fold, even on the other side of a cure. That's where I am headed, and I plan to pull as many of you out of those troubled waters to the safety of that blessed shore. Maybe not pull you, but at least show you that it can be done and one way to do it. If IVIG is part of my swim to that promised land, so be it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What bothers me a bit is that I'm such a regular at the infusion center that the staff and the nurses all know me by name. I'd rather be the guy who drives by the center, wondering what kind of infusion was going on there.

Ah, a nice pity party now?

Dr. Kipps is also a believer in IVIg, as I remember, a good omen. Plus, you do have to face the immediate threat rather than the potential years down the line.

July 31, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

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