Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Perfect (Kind Of)

Wow. Okay, so where to begin? For lack of a better intro, I'm just going to start with the important stuff:

I've been really, really sick.

Seriously, when I say "sick" this time, I really mean sick. As in, unbelievable-grossness-meets-super-sedated type sick. Or like...well, like CF sick, really, so I'm sure a lot of you out there know what I'm talking about. The high fevers, vomiting, lack of appetite, high heartrate, low O2, would-get-scared-but-any-emotion-just-serves-to-make-my-headache-worse kind of sick that no one ever really wants to go through. And I have to be honest, it wasn't particularly pretty. And of course it was compounded by the ever-amusing (except when they're not, in which case they are really, really NOT -- trust me on this one) effects of sedation. Wow. Good times to say the least. I think the only thing more fun than being hunched over the toilet while running a fever is being in that position and then looking around and not knowing exactly where you are or how you got there. Yeah, it was just that amazing.

That said, I survived. Thanks to the help of some very wonderful friends willing to put up with my randomly spouting nonsense due to the drugs and, of course, the passing of our good friend time, I was pretty much back to "normal" within 24-48 hours. Of course, the definition of "normal" right now for me includes both an aspergillus (fungal) infection and a pseudomonas (bacterial) infection. So no change to the plan, as I'm still doing the IVs, but now I get three drugs instead of one. Oh well. I'm kinda of the mindset that once you're on it really doesn't much matter -- might as well load the suckers up and wipe out everything at once, right? And the best news I got today (which is also, come to think of it, pretty much the best news possible...ever) is that the results from my biopsy are back and there is NO rejection. Question: is it weird that I feel an odd sense of victory over my own immune system? Not sure if that makes me the winner or the loser, honestly, but it means I get to keep breathing, so I'll take it.

As we used to say in college: major score, baby. (Which statement, by the way, has the unfortunate side effect of making my college friends and I look bad. We weren't normally this uncool. I promise. Kind of.)

Okay, so all that aside: the fact remains that for the past two nights there has been a sick presence in my apartment. On Monday night, without question, I took the grand prize. On Tuesday night, however, things got a little murkier.

The short story is that Sampson got the hiccups. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, though I think it was brought on by literally inhaling two organic mini milk bones. I'm pretty sure those things are just expensive crack for dogs, because Sam goes at them like a deprived junkie every time I head toward the treat closet. Which, to be fair to me, is less a "treat closet" than a "treat shelf" -- my dog is not spoiled enough to have his own closet, though I readily admit that the distinction is a fine one.

The larger point here is that, having acquired the hiccups, Sampson went what could maybe be politely termed "crazy." There are less polite terms, but I'm not going to mention them here, because they'll make my dog look like some sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. (Raw)Hyde. Suffice it to say that this was not good. In his panic, Sampson began by jerking around in a pretty solid imitation of a seizure, or an electroshock therapy patient -- by which I mean all-out, on-the-floor style convulsions. And, to be perfectly honest, he does this sometimes. (Yes, I'm aware that I am indicting myself for possible puppy neglect here, but it has, as a matter of fact happened before. My mom has even seen it. In my defense, the vet has declared him seizure free.) So I sort of wait the convulsions out, at which point he starts tearing around the apartment like a madman. And that's impressive, since the entire apartment is only three rooms and has hardwood floors. I swear that dog hit so many walls that if he wasn't prone to seizures before, he may be now. After which mad dash he ended up in the bathroom, he grabbed his bone for some hardcore gnawing, then ended up in my bathroom "digging" his way through the bathmat, and generally acting distressed. His grand finale included throwing himself on my bed and whining while trying to snuggle closer and closer to my body, and that continued until the hiccups subsided -- about 20 minutes later.

My emotions during this display ran the gamut from amusement, to concern, to near-panic, to cornering the dog and determining that yes, he did in fact have the hiccups and probably wasn't dying, to second-guessing that, to annoyance, and back to amusement mixed with a lot of relief when it finally did turn out to be nothing.

Okay so sick shorkie + recovering Piper = kind of funny, kind of crazy blog post. Case closed, right?

Well, maybe. And then again, not so much. Because the interesting thing about watching this whole performance was the realization that when faced with the hiccups, Sampson turned into,

Yeah, you read that right. What I mean to say here is that apparently, when sick, there is something deeper and gutteral that tends to take over, especially when we don't understand what's going on with our bodies. (Try as I might, I was unable to fully explain to Sam the nature of hiccups. I actually had him drink some water and "promised" him that it would make him feel better. It didn't. Then I remembered how much I hate it when people make promises about my health that don't pan out. Shame on me.) At any rate, the reaction Sammy had, though probably more physical and overt than what I would have done in a similar situation, was something I could definitely relate to on some level. I've FELT that need to run around and try to escape whatever is chasing me -- I've actually acted on it, though with lung disease that one is hard. I've FELT that need to grab on to something -- anything -- familiar and distracting. To retreat somewhere dark and lonely where I can go crazy in peace. And finally, of course, to whine and seek comfort. That one in particular made perfect sense to me. Right, mom?

Granted, Sam was suffering from a case of the doggy hiccups. I'm not going to sugarcoat things here: transplant is not mild indigestion. Far from it. But having so recently experienced my own first "real" illness post-transplant, and acknowledging that I really do have no clue how to manage this "new" body of mine, I couldn't help but empathize with my scared little puppy. Not that I'm claiming this is some sort of mind-boggling revelation or anything, but I really do find some comfort in knowing that maybe I'm not alone in my reactions to feeling out of control sometimes. Maybe we all need a little retreat into the bathroom to try and dig our way to freedom from the tiles. And once we're done with that, it's nice to have someone to curl up with -- preferably someone willing to listen to you whine.

The moral of this story (if there is one, I guess), is that I've now had my first bout of random sickness post-transplant, and Sampson has suffered the effects of his own gluttony, and believe it or not we've both survived. Not that it was easy, or fun for that matter. It wasn't. We both had our moments of being scared, of not understanding, and of flat-out wishing we could run away. (If it hadn't been for my migraine, believe me, I might well have tried to dig my way out of the bathroom.) As it was, we were both about as lucky and as blessed as anyone can be in this crazy life. We got better. Which fact leaves us with the chance to start it all (again) tomorrow.

Perfect. Kind of. Maybe? For now.


  1. Yay for no rejection!! I can just see your dog hiccuping now, so cute

  2. Congrats on the no rejection news!

    Look on the bright least no fire alarm during all this craziness!

  3. So sorry you were so sick Piper. You are a very strong woman. Glad to hear there is no rejection. Praise God. Blessings to you!