More counts return in the days that follow. Platelets are back. Polys creep higher. Hematocrit is up. Everything is up. It couldn't be anything other than sudden, but it's still surprising, and it lightens everybody's mood.
In a matter of days, we've moved from dark, ominous discussions about searching for an emergency bone marrow donation -- maybe even accepting a partial 4/6 match because it was looking more and more likely that my marrow would never recover on it's own -- to laying out the requirements for my departure. I'll still need to come back later in the spring and summer for more treatment, two more rounds of consolidation chemotherapy, but I'll be allowed some home time between those two rounds.
"Your counts will need to be at certain levels," Cindy tells me. "Your doctors should be telling you more about it, but there's some minimum thresholds they'll want before you can go home. Not just the main ones, either. There'll be a lot of different numbers they'll be looking at."
"How long?" I ask.
"Before you're back home?"
"Yeah. How long do you think it'll take before I can get out of here?"
"It depends," she says. "Depends on how quickly all of your counts recover. I wouldn't want to say. It'll be up to the docs."
"Can you guess?"
I'm itching. I am so ready to get out of this hospital, back to my house, my bed, a neighborhood that I'm familiar with, a couple of different loops, a mile or two, that I can run or bike. Being able to get up and out of bed, to actually get dressed again, to go out to restaurants, movies, whatever. Not to mention that it's less than two weeks, now, until I'm twenty-one. I can't wait.
"You're doing awesome, Robert. You really are. You'll be home soon enough."
Now she laughs.
"Just be patient. It won't be long, now."