May 19th, 2016 by Karen
“…and it didn’t cost me a dime.
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town.”
5/19/2016: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. When I took this selfie a couple of years ago, I had no idea just how true this statement would become. Mary Lou’s fabulous bone marrow was only the beginning, followed by weight loss, new wardrobe, new hair style, salon tan, massage therapy, lifted chin, contact lenses, sculpted breasts…all expenses paid. It all sounds very glamorous and decadent, doesn’t it? Let’s rephrase a bit: perpetual nausea and dysgeusia for a year, permanent hair loss, sclerodermatic graft versus host disease, permanently numb neck with dual scars, lymphedema, ruined tear ducts, abraded skin….
Cancer. Twice. Hideous disease, miserable treatments. Nonetheless, I’m among “the most fortunate of the least fortunate.” [source of quote forgotten] I survived! Thanks to my generous donor, modern technology, skilled medical professionals at a nearby world-renowned facility, and awesomely supportive family and friends, life is fantastic. Thanks to our excellent dual health insurance coverage through Michael’s current employment and military retirement, our financial burden has been minimal for more than a million dollars of medical expenses. Insurance paid for nearly everything. What do uninsured/underinsured people do? Just die? I’m appalled at inflated medical costs and that health care availability and quality depends on a person’s wealth or insurance coverage.
“And points all her own sitting way up high, way up firm and high…”
Just over two months since my breast reduction surgery, and everything is healed and looking good – great, actually. GvHD trauma persuaded me to have this procedure but if I’d known how much I’d love the results, I’d have done it many, many years ago. I was apprehensive beforehand and talked to several women who’d already had reductions. Without exception, they told me it was the best thing they’d ever done for themselves. Now I understand and echo their enthusiasm! I feel better, I look better, my clothes fit better – there is absolutely no downside. If you’re contemplating the procedure for yourself and want more personal details, email me. My family and close friends know all too well (much eye rolling) how much I like to talk about my new breasts, ha ha. And, yes, the GvHD spots on my back and shoulders are completely healed. I’m continuing UVA1 therapy biweekly to prevent recurrence. I have one more checkup with my breast surgeon on June 17 with a follow-up in one year. Complete healing takes a full year but 95% occurs in the first three months.
In general, everything is delightfully boring on the medical front. I had a six month routine checkup with my otolaryngology surgeon on May 10. She examined me thoroughly manually and with the scope. Everything looks great. My annual checkup for the PROSE lenses is May 26, and I see my transplant team on June 16, possibly for the last time (fingers crossed).
“So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s [Day +] nineteen ninety-nine…”
In the meantime, I’m visiting my friend Laura in Minnesota for a week. We always have fun, totally relaxing time together. This evening, we’re attending her husband Ryan’s spring concert. I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing him with his students!
Dear readers, you are way behind on tag lines – and three more songs in this missive. I’ll give you a little more time and post answers when I update the photo album sometime soon.