Cured by the Super Ant Colony

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Wow. It’s November. I don’t know how that happened, that February turned into November but it is now Day 75 since my transplant. I can cautiously say I feel better. I AM better. I am starting to heal instead of cope.

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The blood infection is gone, though I am still on antibiotics. The CMV numbers are way low (which is great news) and the graft vs. host disease seems to be settling down. I did have to go on prednisone,  which was awful but also good, as I have appetite and thirst again, and with that, something I had lost for a long time—energy to do things and exercise. I am still on prednisone and trying to get used to the rounded look of my face, but the dose is being tapered down and I will be free of it by Christmas…unless there are complications. “Complications” are the catch all term for all the things that can happen with a suppressed immune system, and there are quite a few. But we won’t go looking for them. Hopefully soon, I will no longer have steroid-induced diabetes. That has been quite the unwelcome learning curve! Soon, they should be able to let me off the immune suppressing drugs and let my body start functioning more naturally.

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I had said that I was grateful to be cured by modern medicine but also shaken by the experience. And that I would sort out those feelings. Well, I have thought and thought about it. I know one thing for sure: I don’t know! The closest I can come to an accurate description of these past several months is that I was cured by a kind of super Ant Colony. I became my chart and the handling of that chart was well attended to, and signaled much of what came next. Doctors and Physician Assistants rotated in and out, nurses provided the only real human intermittent touch. Research was the ever present luminating force that provided solutions to very real urgent questions like when I had out of control CMV and the new clinical drug arrived to save my kidneys from the older medicine. Who can hate that? I am alive and cured because of this Ant Colony, industriously using all the tools at its disposal. Some of the means are outdated and we will look back at them as barbaric. But it was enough of the old and new, and as one of the first PA’s cheerfully said to me early on, this is a good time to have leukemia (and be able to survive).

Notice that I said cured, not healed. Healing is my job now. The soul splitting, body debilitating, shock of this experience will take awhile to restore to health.

Gratitude and appreciation continue to be my pillars of strength. I can’t do justice to what Steve has given me. He has been the constant steadying presence of my life here, and gave meaning to the word caregiver when I had nothing to give back at all. My women friends who gave him respite and me their love and support were critical to our ability to continue on. All of my tribe and friends and community have sent so much love and energy gave me the elements I needed to stay whole. The daughters are in contact nearly everyday and we have maintained an intimacy that we forged during this year together. Hey, I almost make having leukemia sound good!

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Life is ever surprising, and I have surprised and astounded by the year of 2013 so far, in every way. Nothing I would have wished on myself, and I also know that my own little life is forever changed. I touched the cold hand of Cancer.  That imprint will stay always on my skin and in my body. Maybe that’s a good thing, I can’t decide—for though I would have liked to stay innocent to this, and age as the healthy person who was never sick a day in her life, I didn’t get to choose that.  What comes clean over and over is this: How we react to life’s circumstances is the real gold; everyone carries their own hard burdens and there is a lot of heart and courage and abundant Grace in the world. I will do my best to forget the worst of this sickness and its treatments and complications but those are keepers.

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Still looking forward to being home by Thanksgiving. Barring complications.

9 comments on “Cured by the Super Ant Colony

  1. Your writing suggests a level of new energy, I can feel it! Thanksgiving is not that far off – your return will be the biggest reason to give thanks. xxx

  2. Well Shann, So glad you made it! (And I think you have!) So in celebration and because my friend, Pat, who is healing from breast cancer gifted me this song today – (of course we used to play in a band together and hopefully will again…), I am passing it along. You can find it on YouTube – Sorry I still can’t figure out how to embed the link – but if you look up Dougie MacLean – Feel So Near, you’ll find it. He even has harmony from Kathy Mattea! It’s a deep song of celebration and I think you’ll like it. CHEERS.

  3. Cured or healed, that´s a good question, I´d never thought there would be a difference, but certainly there is and an important one. However your heart is beating your mind is clear, your soul is grateful and your loved ones (by now I guess there are so many you can´t count them) are close, so I think you are ready for both, and we celebrate that. You all (four of you) have brought new life and meaning to our lives, not only to yours, I hope we are ready for that as well, Send you a big hug and kiss.
    Juan Manuel

  4. Hi Shann – Thanks for that inspiring reminder of the value of adversity…you are very eloquent, and I truly hope that all the bad stuff just fades into a distant memory….look forward to seeing you back on the island! Let me know if I can find you any particular books you are thinking of….
    Cheers – Carol

  5. May you get your Thanksgiving wish. Much love and support. Nancy and David Jones —– Original

    Message —– From: Do It Yourself Life To: nhjones@rockisland.com Sent: Monday, November 04, 2013 12:59 PM Subject: [New post] Cured by the Super Ant Colony

    Shann Weston posted: ” Wow. It’s November. I don’t know how that happened, that February turned into November but it is now Day 75 since my transplant. I can cautiously say I feel better. I AM better. I am starting to heal instead of cope. The blood infection is gone”

  6. I feel gratitude for having the opportunity to know you at Seabeck and once sharing a writing class there where you showed your talent. Your eloquence through bad times (and good of course) is amazing. Will send my son’s book “An Insiders Guide to Stem Cells” when I get the signed copies. Don’t get it on Kindle.

  7. So wonderful to read your Nov. 4 blog! Hope has arrived as your strength returns! I inhale another deep breath of hope and send love and strength your way. Shann, you are a Sagittarius by birth: element fire, planet Jupiter, sign archer, season Autumn, and became a Leo on your second birthday, element fire, the Sun, sign Lion, season Summer. This second sign, Leo, seems fitting for your rebirth, not that you will become a Leo in character, but that Leo, through Mariya, offers you added strength and more fire, a younger season.

    I think about you all the time and offer all the strength I can give, though not near to help much. Much love to you and to Steve (who is a real hero)!

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