Day +46, Saturday

Photo of the Day: For the first time in my life, I missed a toll, and that’s a big deal because I have driven through Chicago, PA, Ohio, and Indiana A LOT. I looked at the “NEED HELP” sign and “HELP” button and laughed, while Mom scrounged in her purse for $3.25 in quarters. Yeah….not gonna happen. There was one car behind me, which suddenly morphed into 8. I told her to let it go, and took a picture of the instructions of what to do next. I mean, who has exact change only?! Jaw set and resolved, I hit the accelerator and onward we went, toll violation and all.

Today’s weather was – simply stated – beautiful. The morning quickly warmed to the low 60s, with sun and a light wind, and both Mom and I wanted to enjoy as much of it as we could. And after my 5+ week hospital stay, I feel as though I’m making up for lost time.

The plan was to hit up Starbucks, then drive to one of several parks along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, en route to Henway Hard Cider, selected based on its ample outdoor seating and further distance from DC (avoid crowds!). Mom loves cider and I figured it would be a fun day trip. I knew the parks closer to DC and just off the Georgetown Pike would be swamped, and the parking crisis near Great Falls proved just that. When I saw a small sign indicating Riverbend Park, it seemed just far enough from the main road to not be swamped. It was still busy, but Mom and I masked up and enjoyed a 90-minute walk along the Potomac Heritage Trail.

A National Scenic Trail, this is the trail emblem for the Potomac Heritage Trail. There are approximately 710 miles, both complete and planned, of this trail, but this trail is known as a “general route” with many side trails and alternatives to consider. Its purpose is to trace the natural, historical and cultural features of the Potomac River corridor, the Ohio River watershed in PA, Western Maryland, and the Rappahannock River watershed in Virginia. And today at Riverbend Park, it was busy.
Lone climb. We hiked above the cliffs, as the trail below was being rehabilitated. I didn’t mind (much). My lungs did. The views of the river were nice, and the light through the winter trees was lovely.
Bridge crossing, with a Geocache in the lower left corner. Mom was amused at my picture taking. So she whipped out her phone and took a few as well.
We think this is Queen Anne’s lace…?
There was water all around, even little waterfalls next to the trail. Of course we heard the Potomac rushing over the rocks, but the smaller flows were just as beautiful.

I really loved being in the woods and on a trail. Sometimes when I’m outside, I’ll even forget that I’ve just had a transplant. That’s how much I feel like myself. Sure, I’ve still got a long LONG way to go, in order to be back in top form. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

That being said, I do live in fear. Yes, of course – 2020 has brought with it a global pandemic. But the fear of which I speak, involves Graft vs Host Disease, organ failure/rejection, serious illness or complications, an irreversible damage to my body of some sort. I also fear for the health and safety of my loved ones – Andy and Dad, especially, and BananaBear because as a nearly 13 year old kitty, she’s the “old lady” of our family. I do my best to stay positive and not dwell on the “what ifs….” – but the fear that something will go wrong with my transplant, or life is still very much there. It’s not always easy to live with – so Harry Potter, Netflix, and Hallmark serve as wonderful distractions. I also pull on my DBT skills to help, and they make a world of difference. It’s a constant balance, checking in with my needs and making sure I’m doing what I can to be OK physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s a daily thing, at this point. And I think that it’s something that so many of us live with, in one form or another. In that sense, I’m not alone – and neither are you.

Reflections with Frosty.
Once the sun sank, I froze. F.R.O.Z.E. Pre-transplant, I embraced cold. Now, not so much. So we finished everything in the safety and warmth of my parked car, bypassing the heated building and crowds. I am OK with having outdoor outings such as this, but with my very brand new immune system, I would rather not test it with a very brand new virus.
Giving my DSLR a break. The view from my, er, car – while we finished our chips and cider.

The drive back to Bethesda was, well, a drive. I did what I could to avoid Toll roads, but Siri had better ideas. I disregarded her incessant orders as much as I could, but eventually caved. There’s only so many, “make a U-turn at the light” I can listen to without giving up. Then there was the Toll incident, but we don’t need to delve any further. I was happy to be home, couldn’t stop yawning and flopped onto my bed.

If I’m being honest, I flopped on the bed first. And yawned. Then I thought – this would be a good photo of depicting Stem Cell Transplant and life after transplant. So I unflopped myself, set up my tripod and camera, and took a few shots. 10 minutes later, I was asleep.

Thankfully, Sunday is the last “beautiful weather” day for a while. Next week brings rain, snow and cold, which is fine by me. I can catch up on some well needed rest, sleep, put together a gift or two and have general downtime before Andy’s holiday visit. Yay. Goodnight!

  1. It sounds as if your day was just about perfect! I’m glad you got to explore those trails before the rain and snow arrives.

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  2. Toll roads are evil. Glad you made it home okay
    I can understand your fear. Few have undergone the issues you have but your grit and courage are pulling you through. You are one TOUGH cookie and all will be well. I have enormous faith in you. You are loved by many!
    ❤️Dad

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