Day +75: One Day at a Time

More years than I want to think about, Merle Haggard wrote a song that should become the stem cell transplant patient’s theme song. The chorus goes like this:

balancingOne day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you

Give me the strength to do every day what I have to do

Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine

So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

This is a lesson that Melanie and I had to learn early in my diseased life. It has not been an easy lesson to learn, and I’m not sure I have mastered it yet. I’m working on it.

Each of my days is the same only different. Sound confusing? It is. Allow me to illustrate.

Ever since we arrived at MD Anderson, we have come to the hospital nearly seven days a week for clinics, tests, scans, blood draws, etc. It has become a routine. Except for scan days and clinic days, everything is the same … until something happens that isn’t the same. Last week is a prime example. Sunday and Monday were routine. I made my appearance in ACT (Ambulatory Treatment Center) for my usual doses of anti-viral and magnesium infusions. We leave and get back to the apartment for an afternoon of R&R.

That Monday afternoon, I notice a rash on my legs, then my arms. Uh, that’s not good. I report this finding on our Tuesday visit with my doctor, APN (Advance Practice Nurse), and Pharm D (personal pharmacist) who take a quick look. They kind of nod their heads and pronounce this a clinical diagnosis of GVHD (Graft Vs Host Disease). They check various other parts of my body and find some mild rashes on my chest, stomach, and back. A prescription for a steroid cream and prednisone (an oral steroid) are ordered, and a biopsy for confirmation is collected by the APN.

Nothing has been the same since. If you have ever been on prednisone, you know what havoc this can cause. My blood pressure has been high, my blood sugar has climbed into dangerous areas causing a rapid visit to the endocrinologist APN. This resulted in adding two diabetic drugs to my growing list of meds and blood sugar finger pricks before breakfast and supper.

I now take over fifteen different pills or capsules every day. That may not seem a lot for some people, but I’m used to a multi-vitamin and two blood pressure pills. I have set five reminders on my phone to remind me to take my pills at the correct time and in the correct order. That is not including pills that I take with meals. Yes, it’s that complicated. It took Melanie two days to get it all figured out because some of the pills have to be kept separate from others by at least two hours. Poor gal. I feel sorry for her, but her mind is sharper that mine at this time.

You probably also know that for every medicine taken, side effects follow. Some of my pills counteract the action of other pills. My anti-rejection drug causes problems that must be countered by two other pills. These have their problems so … you get the point.

Yes, we just get into a routine and a day or two or a week later, it is changed.

That is why the “One day at a time, sweet Jesus …” is so apropos to our lives right now. There is another verse I cling to:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Mat 6:34 (NASB95)

Sometimes it is hard to do, but I keep trying.

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