Tomorrow will be ninety days since my stem cell transplant. It will also be my first day back at work. It feels like the timing is right to head back part-time. Yesterday I attended worship at University Hill for the first time since July. It was a wonderful reunion with so many smiling faces greeting me. Doug preached a great sermon and the congregation clearly hadn't missed a beat in my absence. It was so good to simply be able to be there with everyone. There is enough hand-sanitizer in the place to keep our hands clean for a year! My need to be careful about catching a cold or flu may help everyone keep better habits when it comes to being cautious about spreading germs.
This week my main task is to catch up on things in the office, to re-connect with the congregation and to work with the worship team to prepare for the upcoming worship services through to January 1. We are going to share responsibility for preaching and presiding for the next few weeks. This coming Sunday I will preach while Doug will preside. As I return to preaching I will post some thoughts here on the upcoming scripture readings mid-week and then post the text of the sermon (or an outline of the sermon) here on Sunday.
I continue to feel well, though am still surprised when my body gets drained in the evening. Gone are the long naps that came immediately after the transplant. I can go through the day without lying down now. But if I am up all day I find that I am yawning by dinner and ready for bed early in the evening. Fortunately, I am sleeping well and have still not had a cold or infection. I expect that at some point I'll have to deal with some sickness but am glad that I've made it to this point in good health. My strength and conditioning exercises are helping to build up some muscle and I am increasing the load on the stationary bike. I am beginning to think that I'll get back to running when my body is ready for it. The doctor gave me the okay to do so with the caution to be careful not to run in places where I might easily fall. No more jumping over roots and logs in Crescent Park. I will stick to the flat path around Crescent Beach.
On Thursday I am back to St. Paul's hospital to begin monthly infusions of pamidronate again. That was put on hold during the stem cell transplant process. Pamidronate is a drug that induces the bones to retain calcium, making them stronger. Multiple myeloma tricks the bones into thinking that the cancerous plasma that takes up residence in the bones is calcium. This causes the bones to release calcium into the blood stream, making them weak and susceptible to fracture. Pamidronate is given as a preventative measure to help avoid the complications of fractures that may occur. It is a bit of a hassle to get to St Paul's for the two hour procedure each month, but well worth it.
When I was in to see my hematologist at St. Paul's two weeks ago I was greeted by a new resident doctor. She is from Saudi Arabia and is here for a three year residency in hematology and bone marrow transplant. I have met many gifted residents during my short time under the care of the hematologists at St. Paul's and the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic. They have been from Canada, New Zealand, England, India and now Saudi Arabia. Not to mention that my own doctor is from Libya and was trained in the UK. It reminds me that I am so very fortunate to live near a world class center for the study and care of blood disorders like mine. Doctors are coming here from all over the world to learn the newest methods of treatment.
I have been following the Myeloma Hope blog with reports this past weekend from the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. There continue to be breakthroughs in the treatment of multiple myeloma, with a variety of new treatments on the way. I am fortunate to live at a time when research is learning more about how to treat this disease. It will be an interesting journey, that's for sure.