I ended up welcoming 2021 with Andy via Messenger Video and half a glass of champagne. He counted down, sipped his beer, and bid farewell to 2020 with a loud belch. I tried not to be affronted, he just laughed. We chatted for a bit, made big plans for 2021 and after signing off, I continued to read late into the night, burning the midnight oil, as my parents would say. My alarm felt early, but served its purpose as a reminder to take my medications.
Through the course of the morning, Mom and I sipped tea and held FaceTime/Zoom/Messenger or just regular phone conversations with Dad, Karyna and Eli and Andy. I drank more tea and eventually grabbed my book, settling comfortably in the oversized living room chair, Minnesota Public Radio’s KSJN classical music playing in the background. Mom had fun saying, “Echo, play Minnesota Public Radio!”
I’m feeling OK – perhaps a tad irritated on the skin of my shoulders where I’m applying a stronger cream to deal with some bumps and redness. My skin in general is OK, but just below the surface it feels ever so slightly itchy – I don’t NEED to scratch it, and the times that I have, well, itching really hasn’t provided any relief. This sensation – started along my jaw line, behind my ears, and onto my neck, and is now very slowly working its way down my body. My shoulders, upper chest seem to be bearing the brunt of this now – I call it “baby acne” – and think of it as my new blood/immune system getting to know my skin, body, tissue, etc.
I guess that’s why the Tacrolimus is so important – it suppresses my new immune system. Dr. Hickstein likened it (the drug) to waking it (my new immune system) up very very slowly, in an effort to prevent Graft (donor’s stem cells) vs Host (me, my body, tissues, organs, etc). There will be a bit of conflict between my new blood and body, but the goal is to minimize and prevent damage. I try not to think too much about it – it can be stressful. So I acknowledge my fear, pull on the tools I’ve learned through therapy, and keep moving forward with my life, which is pretty much all that I can do.
And today, that took the form of reading a really good book. And occasionally watching a video on my phone of Monster, the youngest of our kitties, and me from last September. I should preface this: whenever I would chop vegetables – carrots in particular are her favorite – Monster liked to sit on the bar stools and watch. Occasionally I would flick a piece of tiny vegetable matter into the corner of the kitchen, at which point she would chase. On this day, I only had squash. And Haribo Gummy Bears…