Monday, April 18, 2011

Spirals up

Executive summary: all is going well!

Nancy is doing great. We had the weekend together, she had several visitors Saturday, then I stayed overnight on the Rack, uh, the chair that pulls out into a bed. After un-creaking my joints yesterday morning, we watched a movie and generally had a nice day together. She has an expected side effect, a bit of mucositis -- an inflammation in the mouth or throat -- but not enough to make it hard for her to eat or swallow. She's getting out and walking, eating regularly, doing email, and planning enhancements to our house :-)

Her doctor tells us to expect some fever over the next few days, and we joke with him about how these side effects are manifesting because of his warnings. The fact is, it's reassuring to have an idea of what is coming. This is the transition week for Nancy, and in 7-10 days, her counts should begin to climb. If everything continues to go well, she will be home in two weeks.

Personally it's been crazy in my life for the last five days. I've finished our taxes, and my mother's taxes, while my mom (I'm her guardian, she has advanced Alzheimer's) went into the hospital on Wednesday with some rectal bleeding and a urinary tract infection. So I've been visiting both Nancy and Penny in different hospitals, doing financial wizardry at night, and keeping up with my day job. Yesterday afternoon, I brought my mom home to her assisted living facility, which is a big relief. Penny seems fine, the UTI is gone, there's no more bleeding. My mom no longer recognizes me, speaks little, and needs help with everything from dressing and eating to bathroom chores. She is on a spiral down, with some medical issue every few months, less and less capacity each week. It's incredibly painful for me to care for her through this long unresolved good-bye.

The contrast is a little startling. Nancy is on a spiral up. Nancy was severely ill in January, so neutropenic that we were dealing with infections and antibiotics and transfusions and stuff for weeks, just to get her to a place where the leukemia was in remission. Now she's neutropenic again, at risk of infection, getting service to her full recovery. The stem cells are settling into her bones, developing into new marrow tissues. I'm relieved and excited to watch her transformation, something new coming into existence within her.

Not to be too dramatic, but I feel like Shiva-Watcher, experiencing creation and destruction cycling around me. It is a lot to hold, to be open to. Rrr, my heart opens, and it's not all flowers and music. These are fundamental forces, powerful, impersonal. I'm privileged to glimpse them. Perhaps Shiva does not create and destroy, he simply experiences, and I am having a moment of learning the Tandeva dance of the Nataraja. This is what is happening within Nancy also, as the old dies off and the new comes into being.


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