I expected to greet with the news with much fanfare and hoopla. Dr. Collins would be ecstatic, practically giddy, and my family and nurses and visiting friends would form a horseshoe around my bed, clapping and cheering, you're in remission, Robert, congratulations!. I figured we'd be all festive and excited, but the truth is anything but that.
Don't get me wrong.
It is absolutely great to be in remission. Great with a capital "G" and a Tony the Tiger drawl. If the additional week of chemotherapy hadn't sent the leukemia packing, I don't know what we would have done. A third week? Doubt I could have stomached it. Bone marrow transplant? With no donor lined up, and no match for me anyway, even if we could have coordinated everything, found somebody close, irradiated my body, odds are I'd just reject the marrow anyway. Graft v. host, or host v. graft, whatever, it's just the simple fact that without a close match, my body would have said buh-bye to that foreign object, that poseur trying to pass itself off as something that actually belonged inside my body.
No chemo, no marrow? No, thanks.
So the alternatives are clearly much worse, and a week or so earlier I'd probably do a little jig, you know, do my little funky eighties dance where I don't actually lift my bare feet from the floor, just plant 'em close together, my upper body doing most of the moving, trying to pay attention to the back beat, hands in these loose fists. It works well for me, because it's a low energy kind of dance style. I mean, you're gonna break a sweat if you keep at it for a couple of hours -- or if the deejay decides to mix up the techno with some old school Rock Lobster, or even older school Twist and Shout, both songs forcing you to get down, down, down, close to the floor, then up, up, up again -- but you're not going to be sucking wind after only a few minutes, either. It's a good hospital room dance.
A week ago, even, had I learned that I'd gone into remission, I would have done my dance, still tethered to my little buddy. We would have stood in place together, my bag-holding friend and I, and we would have done our little Cabbage Patch, or Churn the Butter, or whatever you call it when you're all happy about everything, Go, Robert! Go, Robert! Go, Robert!
Now it's fever this, fever that, practically every second of the day.
We're going to radiology, getting bronchoscopies, ramping up the freqency of my blood tests. We are not eating, which brings up a whole different set of concerns. We're not miserable, not really, but we're not exactly having endless fun, either. There's simply no time to celebrate, and even if there was some time, it would still feel a bit premature to do a victory dance.
We're not out of the woods yet. There is still much work to be done.