turned inside out

It seems hard to believe that my birthday was a month ago. In some ways, time has stood still. In others, it has flown by (me).

I remember thinking that my worst birthday was sitting in a large lecture hall at 8 o’clock at night, taking an O-Chem Lab final with about 300 other people. I am still not sure how you give a multiple choice exam for a hands-on class. I think that was my 21st, although I really had no desire to go out and party to mark that milestone. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I was also still a virgin. Life was so much simpler then.

This last birthday didn’t even come close to that. That night was a piece of cake compared to this last birthday. An O-Chem final – PLEASE!

This birthday will go down as the one where I felt a group of cells dissolving into my blood stream. A group of cells that didn’t stand a chance, but that represented everything I ever wanted. I felt hope literally dissolve inside me. How do you forget a birthday like that?

When they administered the drug, Methotrexate, they told me that I might have cramping. It would most likely take a couple of days to happen. Right on schedule, just after midnight on my birthday the cramps started. To be fair, they weren’t terribly painful. They were more disconcerting than anything else. There was no way to know if they were a sign that the drug was working, or that perhaps it wasn’t, and maybe we would end up in the ER (on St. Paddy’s Day weekend no less).

I had a hot cup of tea and the pain subsided. I managed to somehow fall asleep, although I am sure I was up a few times, most likely around 4:30am, thinking it was 6:00am, and feeling disappointed that morning was still a few hours away. The nights have been the most difficult.

The cramps continued on and off for the next day or so. I have had even more mild cramping a few times over the last few weeks. I don’t know if I am just hyper-aware or hyper-sensitive. I haven’t taken as much as an aspirin. It isn’t that kind of pain.

It is hard to believe we have been dealing with this for about six weeks now. That really isn’t a long time, and yet it feels like forever. As of last Monday, my HCG level was at about 1200. That meant I was back at the lab this afternoon.

They were training a new woman. She needed help as she processed my paperwork. I was okay with that. We have all been the new person at some point. Then she was going to do the draw. Thankfully I made her nervous or something (she thought she might have trouble finding a vein or maybe it was when she asked me how I was, I responded with “I am here.”), so she asked the guy training her (who has done most of my blood draws over the last several weeks) to do it. Thankfully he was willing. I really couldn’t bear to be someone’s practice pin cushion.

Apparently I am a bit more relaxed in the lab. The lab tech admitted that the first time he drew my blood, he thought I was going to pass out. I am not kidding about my needle phobia. It is not a laughing matter.

When we got back from the lab, there was an $8 Citi gift card from Kimberly Clark in the mailbox, representing a refund for a defective product — I have never seen a pad bloat up and separate like that. I emailed them about it three weeks ago. They sent a label with some coupons so I could return the product (which I did). And then a few days ago I got a letter saying that I would receive this card as my refund. I am just so thankful it isn’t branded with the Kotex logo. The card actually has my name and the amount engraved into the front of it. I guess I can think about what to buy with it while we wait.

In theory my results should be at the doctor’s office tomorrow sometime. I don’t know if they will call me, or if I will need to call them. My gut says I will be back at the lab on Monday. [The outlaws arrive sometime on Saturday.]

Also, it looks like I may have my first bruise from all this blood taking. It isn’t bad, but I don’t know if they will be able to use my right arm if I do need to go back. And I know that my left arm is still resistant after what happened in Berlin. Really, I don’t blame it.

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