11. Needles

In just a few hours I head back to the hospital for a re-do of all those blood tests from last May, just in case I met up with a nasty mosquito during a recent weekend trip down the Amazon. (Not.) Assuming all is well, my first of five Neupogen shots will be on 9/24. After five days of injections, my stem cells will be practically leaping out of my bones, and hopefully not causing any discomfort in the process.

The next three injections were to be given at my home by a visiting nurse. Inconveniently, I have plans to be elsewhere for part of the day on 9/25. Someone else could give me the shot, which is subcutaneous and not intravenous (i.e., the kind of needle you stab yourself with in the arm or thigh, like a diabetic does with insulin), but that person would first need to submit credentials to the donation center and be thoroughly vetted. Of course this makes sense, but is also a big pain. The other option, which a few doctor friends convinced me is perfectly feasible, is to give myself the shot. Needles give me the creeps, but I opted to go this route after a dozen phone calls failed to identify a suitable injection-giver. They’ll teach me how to do it at the hospital, and send me home with a cooler full of drugs and gel packs. One of the friends I’ll be with is a doctor herself, so can supervise.

Or I might decide to skip the event. I have 11 more days to decide; it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

To be honest, I haven’t been able to focus on much of anything for weeks. A good chunk of my brain is floating in a fog. The other day I wondered if this is how parents or pregnant women might feel, a mixture of awe and a massive sense of responsibility, but then decided that it fell into a category all its own. Unlike a child, we are both responsible; the recipient of my stem cells chose to place her trust in a complete stranger. I can’t imagine a braver act. Maybe this is how that guy on the trapeze feels who catches the other guy by the wrists after he flies through the air. There is no way to sufficiently rise to the responsibility of embracing so much trust. All a person can do is keep living and breathing and doing her best, and God will take care of the rest.

Meanwhile, I finally fixed the alarm clock in my bedroom to display the actual time after years of keeping it set to seven minutes ahead, or maybe it was six, which I thought helped stop me from being late and forced me to rush, since I could never be sure of the actual time. But in reality I just subtracted six or seven and went about my business. Now, instead, I will be forced to focus on the present moment alone.


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