Well, I just passed 4 months since my bone marrow transplant, and things are going well. I am officially still in remission, and I’m not showing any overt signs of GVHD. The plan now is to wean me off of Prograf over the next couple of months, so I admit we may start seeing GVHD for the first time. But we will deal with that when we see it.
But the main thing right now in my recovery has to do with changes in my emotional state. For about the last month I’ve been at the mercy of swings in my emotions. It started out as what I thought might be a slide into clinical depression, which didn’t really worry me, since I know that’s as treatable a condition as any I’ve had.
But when I talked to my PA, she told me that it wasn’t unusual for leukemia patients, especially survivors, to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. For those who don’t know, PTSD is, in a sense, a reaction to things that remind patients of previous stressful times and events. It’s most prevalent among returning soldiers, but we who survive a medical disorder can also show it.
For me, it happens when I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have survived, when others haven’t, or when I’m reminded of how I felt during treatment. It also happens when I hear about how others have suffered, especially when it was something that I didn’t go through.
It also can happen when I hear about things unrelated to leukemia. One poignant example happened Friday, when the wife of an acquaintance of mine, Chris Maynard, suffered a severe, and eventually fatal, stroke. Memories flooded back, of my mother passing away when I was 15, and I slipped into a bit of a funk. Fortunately I recognized it, and I talked about with Vicki, and prayed about it.
Prayer, and sharing my feelings, have made things better. As a typical American male, I’ve not done that a lot in my life, but I’ve learned. And I know this is something I need to treat, as much as I treat other symptoms of my illness. I will be sure to share more as I go on.
In the meantime, please remember Chris, his wife Ann, and their children in your prayers. These will be tough times for them. As much as your thoughts and prayers have made the difference for me, they will for him, too.