Day +74, Saturday

Photo of the Day: hiking on the Appalachian Trail, north of Gathland State Park

This morning, my eyes were the lovely combination of puffy and slightly crusty, and it was, um, interesting peering at myself in the bathroom mirror. Thankfully, I’m not blessed with far sightedness, so I didn’t really get the full impact of my face until video chatting with Andy over breakfast. Oh well. I did my best to angle the phone camera in the most flattering position, but after a few minutes just radically accepted it is what it is. I think that puffy eyes are just going to be a thing, for a while anyway; my body is dealing with so much systemic inflammation, tons of meds, and my new immune system/blood cells are getting used to me. Both Erin and Daniele mentioned another patient who struggled with this as well, so it’s not unexpected. It’s just fucking annoying.

It is ironic, I think, that I’ve never ever EVER eaten so much pasta and cheese in my life, and the only part of my body that has any bit of puffiness is my face. In future, I’ll have to reconsider my relationship to carbs.

Oh well.

Today Mom started de-trimming the tree. This is something that I’m not very good at, just like folding laundry. So I’m especially grateful. Later, we road tripped to van Gilder Pottery and the Appalachian Trail via Gathland State Park, with a quick detour through Starbucks first. Mom is a sucker for iced Irish coffee (can’t figure out her love for iced stuff in January, but OK) whereas I love myself some Chai Tea Latte, extra hot. It made for a fun hour-ish road trip.

It was fun chatting with Bill, the potter, about his work and how meaningful his mug has been to me. In 2016, after completing the AT 4-State Challenge, I returned to buy a mug. This mug stayed with me through some life changing times – my GATA2 diagnosis, the end of my marriage, a move to Minnesota then North Carolina, adopting Monster, falling in love with Andy and my Stem Cell Transplant. When I return home, it will reside above the coffee/tea bar that Andy built for us. Bill seemed really touched; I just wanted to share with him how meaningful this mug was to me, how much comfort it provided and that through ALL of the above, it’s something that I have treasured.

Later, we hiked north along the Appalachian Trail. It was chilly, windy and cold. But we survived. Another neat survival trick? On our final descent, Mom strayed a tad close to the edge, and a very solid-looking rock was unfortunately, not so solid. There were a few tense moments when I saw Mom – reaching for a sapling tree and hovering on the edge. I didn’t know what to do – I didn’t want to startle her because she was already quite occupied, and pulling out my camera didn’t seem appropriate.

Thankfully she recovered well, hoisting herself back up the trail, laughing while looking my way. Upon seeing my startled expression, she commented, “Oh – I wouldn’t have fallen very far. The trees would have kept me from rolling down the hill.” Then she turned around, stepped away from the edge, and continued her descent (on the trail, not the mountain).

Just downhill of the incident.

Me? It took a moment or two to slow my heart. I’ve had the privilege of hiking with Mom for the past 6 weeks. There have been a few times when I’ve been walking on a trail, only to hear a “whump” over my shoulder, and have turned to see Mom, laying on the ground. She always gets up and assures me that she knows how to fall “really well” and that falling is an art. Having broken enough bones through various hiking/biking/running/running around the house on my 3rd birthday and skateboarding incidents, I don’t disagree.

Oh – and to be clear, I don’t think my broken bones had anything to do with my GATA2. I’ve just lived an exciting and accident-prone life. Perhaps this is why Mom adopts a meditative stance every time we hike together.

The drive home was uneventful (thankfully), and I had fun chatting with Andy and later Jenni. I’m feeling OK, just tired. I’m guessing that tomorrow I’ll have more puffy and crusty eyes, and that the slight rash on my skin will still be there, but ever so slightly less rash-y. Oh, and my abs will still be sore – but that’s my own damn fault and nothing to do with transplant. Tomorrow – who knows? But as this post may be down before midnight, I’m going to curl up and read a chapter or two before bed.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

  1. YES!!! Falling is an art. And, I’ve been practicing it since I was a little girl. And, it’s all in the way one lands. So far, so good, as I’ve never had a broken bone. Yet!!
    Our visit to Van Wilder Pottery was a feast for the eye. The shapes, the colors, the glazes – all fantastic! We may visit one more time before we are homeward bound south west to Asheville. It’s difficult to wait these last few weeks.
    Meanwhile, I’ll finish de-trimming the tree and box it up so it’s ready to leave with Andy a week from Monday. It’s fun packing up and getting ready for the next phase of Marit’s return to health.


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