Just checking in to let you all know I'm doing much better since leaving the hospital. I've been home almost 3 weeks now and have been enjoying it much more than being in the hospital. I'm still pretty immobile, my legs are really weak, but I have noticed them getting stronger as the time goes on. I have exercises that I have to do that the physical therapists at the hospital gave me to do, and they are definitely playing a big part in me getting my strength back. They also make me quite sore, but that's a good sign.
Now I'm able to walk around my house a little bit and I have only been using my walker when I need to go somewhere outside of the house: like the hospital for a checkup. I'm still incredibly tired, and I get exhausted pretty easily when I walk around, but it gets easier each day, and the independence it affords is nice.
Recently I've been able to return somewhat to normalcy in some regards. Because I can now walk on my own, I can get up and get myself some water or walk to the bathroom by myself. It's not much, but not having to call out and get someone to help me get up and walk to the kitchen or the bathroom is a huge convenience. When I was so dependent on others to get around it was really frustrating because if I tried to do anything by myself, my legs basically just wouldn't work. Now they do work! (somewhat) and it's great!
Another big step for me was that I was able to get up the stairs and go to my own room yesterday. Since coming home I have pretty much stayed in my living room. I sleep on the couch and someone else sleeps on a futon mattress we brought into the room, just in case I need something during the night. I still don't feel comfortable getting up and walking by myself at night. But I did make it upstairs to my room yesterday. I had to go up backwards on my butt up the stairs, and I only stayed a few hours because I still thought sleeping downstairs was a better idea, but being able to see my room and lay in my own bed was awesome. The last time I was in my room was March 5th, so as you can imagine, I missed it.
Medically everything is going really well too. Since leaving the hospital, my blood levels have been good, either rising or staying at the same place. This is a sign that the stem cell transplant was a success and that the stem cells have started producing blood cells again. I did have to have a transfusion of platelets on Wednesday the 14th, but that's the only transfusion I've had since leaving the hospital. Usually, stem cell patients have to receive many more, so I've been lucky in that regard.
The next step of my treatment is going to be radiation. With the last time I was treated, they radiated my full brain and spine, including the area where the more recent tumor was. However, that area did not receive the full dose of radiation that it can handle, because there was no tumor there at that point. So I'm going to get radiation just to the area where the tumor was this time to bump it up closer to the maximum of what it can handle.
I'm not sure exactly when radiation will start, it hasn't all been finalized yet, but it should be within the next few weeks. The process will be pretty much the same as last year: it's going to be downtown at Northwestern, it'll be everyday from Monday to Friday, the actual radiation process will only take about 10-15 minutes a day (somedays longer if they need to take x-rays), and the whole process will probably take about 3-5 weeks. As I know more and as radiation starts, I'll update the blog to let you all know what's going on.
Just so you all know, I will eventually document my hospital stay during the month of March in more detail, so if that seems a little lacking it should be better soon.
To sum up, I'm really happy to be home, and happy to be feeling stronger. The time I was in the hospital for the stem cell transplant was really a pretty bad time, so I'm really glad it worked and I'm out now. I have a few weeks to recover before anymore treatments, so I have some time to just relax. And hopefully radiation will go smoothly and I'll soon be on the road to recovery!