Today I wondered what it will be like when I don’t feel as if I’m up against absolute deadlines. These deadlines are, for the most part, self-imposed.

As I had one of my last dinners out—for the next four months, at least—with a friend last week, I realized I have had a “last night out” series of events, beginning a year ago, before the ABVD chemotherapy.

Since then I’ve had a string of last hurrahs—before Brentuximab in November, and then before my ICE treatments, when I worried that I wasn’t having as much fun as possible. Friends have gamely attended this series of lasts, right through last week’s meals out, even though I’m like that friend who keeps having going-away parties but never seems to move.

I feel as if I’ve been scrambling to wrap up freelance work projects for a long time—before the first round of ICE, the second round of ICE, before radiation and this hospital stay for the stem cell transplant. Though I have nothing pressing to do, I’m still trying to finish up a few things before the mind fog of chemo descends upon me this weekend.

And then I realized I also wouldn’t be able to update my blog, which I’ve been ignoring—so here I am. How could I feel busy when I’m technically supposed to be doing nothing?

Another deadline arrived this morning. Today is my first and last day to walk the halls. I was told on Monday that I had to stay in my room because of my neutrophil count, but today, the nurse and nurse practitioner agreed that I could take some laps around the floor.

By next Wednesday, I should be feeling temporarily terrible if everything’s on schedule. Though I’m not looking forward to it, it’s a relief. If I’m lucky, this will be one of the last hurdles to jump.

I finished one week of outpatient radiation and now I’m in the middle of my second week, which is Total Lymphoid Irradiation (TLI). On Saturday, I begin four to five days of chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant. Then I feel terrible for seven to 10 days before I start to feel better.

Right now I’m waiting for my side effects to start. Truthfully, I’m hoping my nausea holds off at least through today, so I can enjoy the breakfast pizza and Mexican bean soup specials and dig in to some Easter candy a friend brought by yesterday.

So I see this weekend and next week as another deadline. I think I’m a little less tightly wound than I was before ICE.

These deadlines don’t loom so much as lurk, since I’m not sure exactly when I’ll start feeling nauseated or fatigued.

I realize all these “lasts,” are extremely temporary in the grand scheme of things. There are also post-transplant firsts on the horizon—and the accompanying celebrations—first walks around the neighborhood, first outings with friends, first dinners out, first workouts. There are more joyful firsts, I hope, just around the corner.

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