Where have I been this past month and a half since my last blog entry? Well, I’ve been in my own little world, that’s where I’ve been. I’ve been Bubble Girl. Yeah, I’ve been stuck in the hospital most of the time with my visitors having to wear masks and gloves and cover gowns but that’s not exactly what I mean. The weeks leading up to my transplant, I kept asking my doctor questions if I’d be treated like a ‘bubble girl’ during my stay in the hospital. Little did I know, I would end up turning myself into just that.
Everyone could see me but they couldn’t really see me. What truly was a joyous occasion on November 16th took a frightening toll on my physical health and consequently on my spirit and emotions. I stopped writing. I stopped talking. I stopped eating. I spent entire days in bed. I wouldn’t leave my hospital room. I would even say there were days when I didn’t smile. I cried endlessly. I spent many sleepless nights wondering when it would all be over. ‘Probably never’, I would think to myself. I kept everyone at arm’s length, tucking myself away into my own sanitized, little space. I built my own emotional bubble around myself. I was Bubble Girl and I didn’t care.
I’m not gonna go into detail of the horror of going through a stem cell transplant just yet. That’s gonna take a few entries and, frankly, I’m not ready to go there. I’m still sitting in the hospital as I write this and I need time to sort it all out for myself before I begin to recount all the sordid details for you. But, believe me. Its gonna be GOOD.
This blog entry, in particular, is more for my benefit if I really think about it. It feels good to get some of this off my chest and finally step out of this emotional plastic bubble, good to finally be able to talk to people like a somewhat normal person again. How did I get rid of my bubble? Because since my transplant, I’m finally feeling better again. I’m finally feeling more like myself, like Cristina. I can finally see that light at the end of this still stretching tunnel. I can’t say that Bubble Girl won’t be back, but I can say that she has definitely taken a hike.
Its amazing what feeling better physically can do for a person. Its easy for someone looking in from the outside of someone’s bubble to say the typical: “Oh, this is only temporary. You’ll feel better soon.” Or my favorite, “You’ll look back on this one day and won’t even remember how bad it was.” When you’re in that position of constant pain and suffering, there is no end in sight. The struggle itself should never be belittled. And the struggle is something that you never, ever forget no matter how hard you try. The constant lingering, tingling sensation in my fingertips from the latest effects of chemo is just one of the things that doesn’t let me forget.
Enough of that for now because its finally time for some good news. Make it GREAT news. Today marks Day 43 since my stem cell transplant. Its been forty-three days since I was given my second chance and I’m almost at the halfway mark of my stay here in Houston. And, Day 43 now marks the day I first got the best news since my transplant. After my first PET scan, full CT scan, and bone marrow biopsy post-transplant, my attending doctor told me this morning that there is “no sign of disease”! He paused so that I could process the news and I did not cry which is a first for me. I have always gotten emotional when I get any news about my health, be it good or bad, and for me to not have cried is in itself a HUGE victory for me. Instead I smiled a big, toothy smile and he smiled the same big, toothy smile back at me. I looked over at my mom’s big, toothy smile. It was a big, toothy smile-fest and it was perfect. I don’t have to cry every time I’m happy. Smiling is perfectly acceptable. “For real?” I asked. “Yup!” he replied. I took a deep breath and said, “Yes!” And that was it.
I’m glad there wasn’t more fanfare in that moment. That was exactly what I needed after the over-the-top, emotional roller coaster I’ve been on for the past two years. Just a quiet moment in time that I could revel in and just be happy. And to add the cherry on top, I might be discharged from this latest stay in the hospital by tomorrow. Even if I’m not, Day 43 already has a heart by it in my calendar.
Happy New Year! Bubble Girl out.