Day +115, Friday

Photo of the Day: In the car, after my morning’s blood draw – which was done with a butterfly needle, as requested.

I think today’s post will have more photos than text – and given the late hour, that’s OK. Overall it was a great day! I left the house after throwing all my cold weather and medium-cold weather hiking gear into a giant bag, along with long gaiters and two pairs of shoes, half a day’s worth of snacks, 4L of water and my camera. For a few moments, I resembled a hurricane, telling myself I was gathering energy for my phlebotomist appointment.

Going into the lab, I was steadfast and determined to stand up for myself. The phlebotomist and I exchanged pleasantries, and then she started sorting through needles. I piped up and requested a Butterfly needle for my draw.

“Oh hon,” she said. “Your lab results will be altered. You don’t want that now, do you?”

Already prepared, I had my answer. “That’s OK. My Team said it was OK, and I would really prefer the Butterfly needle.” I ended with a very firm, “thank you!”

She complied, huffily, walking across the room to a shelf under the desk and removed my needle of choice. I smiled. My lab draw was less painful, but more importantly, I felt really good about standing up for my needs and what was better for my body.

After, I swung by my GP’s business office to pick up the box of files from the NIH. Teresa was happy to get them off her desk and threatened to use them as a doorstop. I told her I just might. And that I loved her boots.

My NIH files from October 2018. About 1,000 pages.

Then it was off to Black Mountain and Montreat, where I hiked a familiar and beloved trail. I didn’t make it all the way to the summit, instead opting for the appropriately named “Walker’s Knob” Overlook (because my up was a leisurely pedestrian). My hike was hard – something that was easy such a short time ago, was really challenging today. Honestly, though? I’m not upset, not at all – I realize that I just had a Stem Cell Transplant 115 days ago, and my body is doing all sorts of new things every day. I took it in stride, setting small goals along the way, agreeing to turn around at any point. Ultimately the summit was never the objective – going out and having fun, challenging myself, getting stronger and spending time in nature – that’s what today was about.

Pretty view about an hour into my hike. I cheered and let out a small scream of joy, a la Howard Dean during his 2004 speech in Iowa after finishing 3rd in that state’s caucus. Haaaa! PS – The Dean Scream is about 33 seconds in.

Post-hike, it was a 30 minute drive home, dinner and well-earned shower. I had spaghetti with roasted veggies. Andy had the same veggies only with a side of steak. I still say that I won. Later we watched a movie and I had fun proofing photos.

I’m feeling good, for the most part. I carried a full change of clothes with me on the trail, on the off chance that I hike fast enough to work up a sweat. At the midway – Walker’s Knob where I stopped for a snack – I ended up changing my base layers, adding a jacket, and layering my vest differently. I was thankful to be dry, as the temperature began to drop during my descent. My skin did well – I made sure to moisturize and sunscreen and carried a few extra tubes of goop (yes, goop) in my pocket to help. The wind stayed largely behind the ridge, so windburn wasn’t much of a factor. And because it was in the 30s all day, I spent most of the time completely alone.

This evening I’m tired, a bit hungrier as well. I’ve been neglecting my water – so I’ll guzzle as much as I can before I falling asleep. I’m retaining a tad bit of fluid in my legs, which has seemed to be more of the case for me this week. Tonight, I’ll throw on my leg brace to hep with my lower right leg lymphedema. My skin is bumpy and red in places, eyes and cheeks remain puffy, but not painful like they have been in the past when exposed to colder weather for several hours. I applied petroleum jelly to the corners of my lips to help prevent them from cracking, and it helped during my time outside. Otherwise – aside from overall fatigue (which really hasn’t changed) – I’m doing OK. Not a day goes by where I don’t recognize how fortunate I am for this. And not a day goes by, where I don’t whisper some sort of thanks fo my Anonymous Donor.

Alright – a few pictures from today. Have a wonderful weekend All! Enjoy!

Walker’s Knob view!
For the first time EVER, there was a train at these tracks, just before driving through one of Black Mountain’s main streets. Mist covered the tips of peaks while driving up to Montreat.
At times, there was a lot of water of the trail.
Sometimes when I’m backpacking and really tired, I’ll count my steps, typically something like 100, and usually while going over a pass. When I’m more fatigued, though, I’ll do something like count to 30 and then keel over my poles. This was one of those such moments.
Later, this view made it worth it.
I love texture! And I love tree rings and colors!
My trail today
Water droplets off moss
Twisted wood – as a texture person, I can’t tell you how neat this is for me!
Final bridge crossing until the parking lot – while I love the light in this picture, I was also really happy to be seated in my warm car!

  1. What a great day. Everything from the butterfly needle to the mountains . So happy the wind stayed behind the ridge, leaving the tender exposed skin without damage! And your dinner sounded great!! Dad would be like Andy – he’d want the steak.
    Oh, thank you for the Dean scream, I loved it!!❤️


  2. The pictures are wonderful! It must have been a great hike even if it was a challenge, another metaphor for what you have been through since October.


  3. Your photos are keepers.
    Your activities prove that you are a super transplant survivor.
    We all like butterfly needles.


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