Day +121, Thursday

Photo of the Day: Tunnel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, west of Asheville. I was delighted to find the Parkway closed at mile marker 402, which gave me the opportunity to walk along the parkway itself, a first for me. A good friend once told me something about tunnels: “You’re going through a tunnel. You keep going through a tunnel. You see the light and you figure you’re at the end. You leave the tunnel.” Carol paused dramatically, “and then you see the next tunnel.” I always laugh at this and figure this is perfect for Life in general. There’s something always occurring, always happening – we believe that we’re through, all done, and then something else comes up. I’m finding that to be true in my post-transplant life thus far.

Today had its own unique sets of ups and downs. Generally, though, things were very positive. It started with Andy bringing me creamy tea in bed (how did I get so lucky?!), and then proceeded to my lab draw where my original phlebotomist was working with another patient (how did I get so lucky?!). The other phlebotomist, when I requested a butterfly needle responded by commenting, “with all the blood ya’ll give, its the least I can do.” Suffice to say, my blood draw went well. After that, I had a quick oil change on Andy’s car, stopped at my gym, HEW (Hard Exerciese Woks), to update my membership status (not returning until June 2021 at the earliest) and then headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a hike.

Today in Western NC, it was lovely – a high of 66 degrees in some places. My goal was to simply enjoy the wonderful weather and find some locations for beautiful photography. I parked where the Parkway ends – basically the barriers were down just shy of mile marker 403.

I’ve honestly never ever ever just walked along the parkway; I have to say, it was beautiful. Quiet, silent, devoid of traffic and cars, I found myself alone for many stretches. But there were also people – friends walking a new dog, cyclists, a fellow hiker. The views were spectacular.

This view just spoke to me. I love mountains and ridges. I love Western North Carolina.

And then it happened – I felt the need to use the bathroom. Now.

It’s been 4 months since my transplant (almost to the day) – and my body has been through a lot. Additionally, at the moment I take a lot of medications. This won’t be forever; instead, temporarily while my body and my blood cells become adjusted to one another. Sometimes unfortunately, these meds cause GI distress – and I’m working on learning the patterns before something comes up, before I go to that terrible Point of No Return. Today, though, was not my day.

In the end, I removed my underwear, stuffing it into my puffy vest pocket and placing it firmly on the outside of my pack. Running tights back on, I wrapped my jacket around my waist and ended up driving home while sitting on 1) a large plastic shopping bag 2) my jacket. Once home, the reusable bag was destroyed and all clothing items were thoroughly washed. I was mortified and embarrassed at the same time. But also sympathetic.

It is so challenging to find the appropriate medications that work for your system. And while I’ve rowed in the World Championships, have raced Ironman Hawaii, and earned a second place award from the 70.3 World Championships – I’ve never had GI issues like I did today. Yes…I’ve SEEN it happen to others – but never experienced it for myself. It was humbling and humiliating. I tried to make the best of it, laugh it off (even though nobody was around) – but I also realize that if it’s happened to me, its likely happened to other Transplant folks. Moving forward, my intention is to back down on the Colase…currently I take 2 per day. Safe to say, I think we can move down to 1.

Afterwards, life moved on. I showered and removed all clothes in said shower, brought clothes downstairs to the washer, and then showered again. I ended everything by taking a Cipro antibiotic, which I typically use as a prophylactic antibiotic after intercourse. However, after driving 30 minutes in a pair of tights with _____________ on my tush and a compromised and brand new immune system, well, antibiotic intervention seemed totally appropriate. Later, I picked up a new tool for Andy, made dinner, and enjoyed FaceTime with friends (not in that order).

My body is doing OK. To start – I’m laying off the Colase, switching to 1X per day (if that). My skin is still dry (of course), but I’ve worn my contact lenses for most of the day and my eyes (while dry) are OK. I’ve noticed that when I apply CeraVe cream to my shoulders and upper arms, where I tend to get a bit of rash, my skin seems to calm down and the rash goes away after a day. Finally – my hair is REALLY coming in. I’ve noticed the biggest difference between post-transplant months +3- +4; currently, I feel like a fuzzy duckling. Feeling the breeze along my head hairs is a unique experience.

That’s it for now. It’s supposed to rain for the next few days, so I’m glad that I was able to enjoy beautiful weather while it lasted. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll still enjoy the weather, will still go outside (as long as my skin is OK)….it just feels more natural to go out when one is not having to brave a deluge of precipitation and cold wetness.

With that said, enjoy the final photos and goodnight!

Near mile marker 400-ish on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Holy Nostrils Batman! Happy driving!

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