Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Inappropriate Happiness

Can happiness ever be "inappropriate"? I'm hoping to find out.

The pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and it appears that I may not have pneumonia (although I still have "pulmonary infiltrates"). Instead, it looks like I have the reversible lung damage that's a side effect of bleomycin, one of the pre-transplant chemo drugs I took two months ago.

Doctors are gradually taking me off the antibiotics and replacing them with the cheek-puffing steroid Prednisone. I had my first dose last night, and I already feel significantly better this morning. If all goes well, I'll be able to go home this weekend and take the drug in pill form.

I haven't had a fever for 36 hours, and my cough is calming. That's the good news. The bad news is that taking a shower last evening still left me huffing and puffing as if I'd just run the OC Marathon. And I'm in the process of receiving a red blood transfusion to pump up my low RBC and hemoglobin counts.

It's nice to know that the culprit is likely bleomycin and not a person, place or thing that sent me back to Hotel Hope. Those infectious disease specialists grilled me like I was a perp on Dragnet and then incorrectly assumed that a memorial service I attended a week and a half ago was the source. But, ya' know, I wouldn't have missed that service for anything, so it doesn't matter.

Many of us are carrying inappropriate guilt. I've had phone calls from friends worried about a suspicious outing ("I should never have taken you to Costco") or party ("Do you think you should have been around that many people?") or homemade meal ("I carefully washed all the vegetables with water and vinegar"). I've personally wrung my hands about sloppiness with hand-washing and fretted about close contact with small children.

Not that I should stop being vigilant, but it's a lot more fun to throw darts at bleomycin than an over-active schedule and under-active hand washing.

I've been researching all of the possible side effects of prednisone. Besides the image-enhancing chipmunk cheeks, swollen belly and increase in appetite, one site warned about "inappropriate happiness." That, of course, brings to mind the photos of a smiling and laughing Britney as she's taken from her home and small children in an ambulance.

Now that I've taken a second to erase that haunting Britney image from my brain, I personally wouldn't mind a little inappropriate happiness, especially if that means happiness in the face of everything going wrong.


Karen said...

Hey, inappropriate happiness and improved appetite with accompanying weight gain would both be excellent side effects for you right now!

And chipmunk cheeks can be cute, right? Go for it. :-)

Susan Carrier said...

I'm really looking forward to the appetite boost. It needs a kick in the pants!

Mrs. Duck said...

Examples of inappropriate happiness:

When Lucy tells Ricky, after an impossibly unlikely car crash, that they've just beaten lottery odds.

When you jump up and down and scream with ecstasy after finding out that three year old lottery ticket in your coat pocket was a winner.

When the loser of multiple primaries smiles and pumps an arm and tells supporters "Yes, next year, when I'm President, the budget will be balanced, taxes will fall, employment in high paying job sectors will skyrocket and the poor and disenfranchised will finally have a voice!" and the supporters all cheer with true delight.

Examples of appropriate happiness:

Delight because you successfully completed chemo and a stem cell transplant and are cancer free.

Delight because you don't have double pneumonia after all.

Delight because, although prednisone increases the appetite and makes you put on weight, you're skinny and a foodie.

Delight because, even in bed in the hospital, you not only have the strength but the wit and talent to brighten the lives of hundreds of blog readers with your wondrous daily posts.

Susan Carrier said...

Very clever cancer banter, Mrs. Duck! I've missed your quacks.

Lilli said...

I was thinking inappropriate happiness could be a great writing prompt, although I'm not feeling so pithy myself tonight. Thanks to Mrs. Duck, someone is.

Here's to enjoying some good eats soon with your new appetite and greater lung capacity!

Mathews Family said...

Hey, are you sure this isn't a decoy to promote the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie? Doot-Doot, Do-Do-Do-Doot!

And the surge in appetite- how bad can that be?! Hope you have some good eats in the process.

Oh, and does this mean you haven't had time to tabulate the scores? Kidding, of course.