Day 100

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January 22nd, 2011

Let me check the time; okay, it’s a-quarter-to-everything.

At this point on the clock there’s a huge evening-out process which sounds like a night on the town but is really just the process of making myself even-Steven, even-Rodney. They tried to kill me with chemotherapy, then just at the last second they resurrected me with my brother’s stem cells. Yin and yang.

That was 100 days ago.

I made it through the most critical time, post-transplant. 100 days seems to be the milestone or guidepost by which they determine success or failure. Most of the bad stuff happens during the first 100 days.

It felt like 100 years.

When I look back at last week I don’t think I’ve progressed so much. When I look back at last month I know I have. My cool Aunt Roberta says I need to gauge my journey now in months. It feels so much better than clocking myself by days like I did back in the summer and fall. I just wanted to get out of the hospital, “home, where I wanted to go” like Coldplay sings.

I contracted diseases in the hospital that I’ll spend my life trying to forget. I’ve caught bugs here at home that little babies get, except with me they linger for weeks. I watch the clock when it’s the calendar that begs my attention. I grieve for seemingly silly things that I somehow relate to. I’m sad for Steve Jobs whose cancer may have returned. But I’m also affected by more personal matters like my college trombone buddy Charlie whose cancer is back. His has the same name as mine used to have, Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I call it A “cute” leukemia, but it seems trite to make fun of it right now.

I still give myself shots in the belly and consume 20 pills of different shapes every day. But I am also exercising now like the “old people” by walking in the mall before it opens. I get irrationally mad at bad drivers these days, maybe because life seems too fragile to jeopardize it doing dumb things behind the wheel. Then an angry man flipped me off on I-75 and I realized life was too short to get upset at people doing dumb things behind the wheel.

These 100 days have been liberating and weird as all hell. At the same time I work hard to move past my sickness then I pop pills that make me remember my predicament. A very small bit of a scary rejection disease invaded my body and the doctors were pleased. Apparently you want a little bit of it, but no, uh-uh, not too much of it.

The dichotomy in this is gut changing.

So I take on different themes for myself. One that’s worked better than most is Embrace Life. Oh it sounds noble and like a philosophy anyone could get behind but usually its working definition is “order more pizza” or “sure, ice cream with whipped topping counts as embracing life, dammit.”

The bitter January only has about a week left then the hallelujah days of February begin melting Michigan, slowly, almost imperceptibly.

My next 100 days will be spent re-creating my own reality, looking and laughing along with the coincidences that raise their heads like our February groundhog friend. I’ll also spend them observing myself and wondering what I’ve become and what I am becoming.

I’m not totally me yet. But I think I have a feel for who he is.

Click Chris Martin to hear Coldplay sing “Clocks.


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