Thursday, September 23, 2010

One step at a time

Stairway to Heaven

Only 962 steps to go

Beauties of Nature

There's always room at the top

Tenacity:  The personal drive to achieve a specific task or goal that has perceived value to the individual despite physical or logistical barriers. May be tempered or abandoned if the risks exceed the value; often at the behest of cooler minds

Not to be confused with--

Stubbornness: The inability or refusal to alter one's stance or path of action, once taken, regardless of physical, emotional or economic risk to the individual and those affected.

Yes, I am mostly the former, and usually not the latter. Tuesday Barbie and I went to Santa Clara to get my heart biopsy. This resulted from a blood test that indicated I might be in heart rejection. Rejection is determined by the pathologist at Stanford as he reviews 5-7 tiny pieces of heart muscle ripped from the interventricular septum of my heart. There are four possible outcomes:
      1. NER - No evidence of rejection
      2. 1R/1A - Mild rejection -- requires no intervention
      3. 2R/3A - Moderate Rejection -- Must be treated with very high dose steroids and repeat biopsy done.
      4. 3R/4A - Severe Rejection -- May be a threat to the donor heart leading to irreversible damage.
I have been in moderate rejection 3 times. All related to Revlimid, the drug I take for Amyloidosis. I always feel a little off-balance after the biopsy. But especially this time as they tried 12-13 times to get 5 good pieces of my heart, but the fellow kept hitting scar. I can tell when the get a good biopsy as the 'tug' that I feel as the heart is pulled up in my chest toward the pericardial sac is quite noticeable; albeit, not painful. More tug, better biopsy. (In my best Brooklyn acccent, "You want a piece of me? Start tuggin' at my heartstrings, Doc!")
Barbie and I left Santa Clara and drove 3 1/2 hours to Yosemite. We didn't have a reservation. The Yosemite lodge and Ahwani were booked. However, we got one of the last three unheated tent cabins. Three wool blankets, socks and cuddling kept us warm enough to sleep.
My goal was to hike to the top of Vernal Falls and more specifically the Mist Trail. from Yosemite floor, this trail rises 1000 vertical feet in a distance of 1.5 miles. I sure some math whiz can calculate the slope; suffice it to say, it is steep. The last 0.3 miles is carved granite stair steps.
I was told that my biopsy results would be back at around noon. An early call usually meant bad news. It didn't matter, there was no reception on the trail. I figured, "Do the hike before you know the results so that bad news won't keep you from going." I am sure you readers do not fail to see the major flaw in my logic and will assign me to the stubborn category. So be it. Some times I take risks; but risk-taking is what makes us feel truly alive. We were prepared. Protection from the environment, good shoes, plenty of water, snacks and the coup du gras, my birthday present of two walking sticks. We moved slow, Barbie patiently waiting for me on my many breaks, but we made it to the top. It was magnificent. When I hiked Lassen I was a 96. Today I started as a 74, but, the more I hiked the better I felt. Moments like this remind me of what I am capable. Yosemite is truly a hospital for the soul. If you have not been recently, put it at the top of your bucket list and go.
Being at the top felt wonderful, but, as in life, the best views and hence the best memories are on the journey up.
We drove home renewed and then the call came. I was anxious knowing that a 2R/3A not only meant disrupting my next two weeks for necessary treatments and a re-biopsy, additionally it would alter the course and future plans for my amyloidosis treatment. But, fortunately, the news was good. I am 1R/1A. I went home and took my first Revlimid of the new cycle. We continue as planned.
Whether tenacious or stubborn, it turned out to be a most enjoyable day.



Vasca said...

Oh Kevin, you are a tenacious one! Experiences like your latest achievement are 'out of this world' wonderful. It's akin to getting a new lease on life...a step at a time.

Congratulations and more by day...step at a time! Vasca

carolyn said...

great pictures and Good Job!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

congratulations on many counts! you inspire me.

Patty S.

Darlene Anderson said...

Yippeeeee! Such wonderful news!! I love that you love Yosemite and had a great time being adventurous and enjoying a cautious risk. Here's to many, many more!