Saturday, January 22, 2011
Ever since 5 November, I have felt like my life and identity have been measured by numbers.
Every blood draw, every encounter with any medical professional has involved a count of white/red blood cells and platelets, blood pressure, temperature, weight. The nutritionist looks at my protein levels. My liver has been functioning at a high level, according to my CMB (complete metabolic blood). This week my white blood cell count went from 3.5 on Monday (normal is 4-10), to 0.5 on Wednesday, to 0.2 on Friday. That means I have like seriously 2 white blood cells dancing around my entire body to protect me from infection. And every single time my temperature is taken, I pray. Any slight rise means an infection and admittance to the hospital.
I have a medical records number and a blood bank number, and every time I get any medication, I have to give my birth date.
Every day, even, is a number. Each chemo course is scheduled by drug and by the number of the day in the course--so each day is measured by what day it is in the treatment cycle. Today is day 12 of course 2B. I'm in the second course of treatment; the sixth course lasts until 24 months from diagnosis.
This past week I had an appointment with my oncologist, and I asked what my recurrence risk is and what my percentage of fertility are. 40% and 30% respectively. I don't like these kinds of numbers. On Tuesday those numbers actually sent me spiraling first to the toilet to barf, then to bed. And there I stayed all week as that chemo did it's job. Physically, but also emotionally.
I'm so quantified.
Each day I have to remind myself that I am more than the numbers that quantify me. I have a mission in life! I have hope in my future! I believe in miracles! I have millions of friends--and my work in history has accorded me friends both living and dead!
How do you quantify courage? or faith? or love? You can't. It's just there or it isn't. And I get to decide.
As for that 30% number, I just have this to say: