Since the beginning of January I've been tripping myself out with the this time last years.... (Such a fan of the mind fuck, as evidenced here and here and here.) This time last year I was saying goodbye to my family. I was flying to Israel. I was getting a picc line inserted. I was having chemo. I was reborn. (Which sounds vaguely Christian, though that is not what I mean. Not at all.)
This time last year. I held onto this paper as if it could explain how the hell I got there, to Israel, sure, but also to MS. How? Why? Is, Am, Are, Was, Were, Be, Being, Been. Lama? Which is why in Hebrew. Only it isn't really, because לָמָּה? Nothing made sense, makes? not even my tenses here in the retelling, in a country of a different alphabet in a reality that I never ever in a million years would have thought possible. I held onto those days counting down, -6 and -5 Campath, -2 and -1 Fludarabine, Cytoxan, everything measured per kg and m2, bottles and boxes of pills lined up on the table in my hotel room, this one once a day, that one twice, those 3x/day, drink 3 liters of water. Cyclophosphamide, alemtuzumab, omepradax. Later, when I was allowed to go outside, I would think of the mangy street calicos as names of all the drugs. Zylol to protect my kidneys, also a pretty name for an ugly cat.
It seems impossible that this was only one year ago, much less that it happened at all. Did my neutrophils really drop so low that I didn't have an immune system? Did I really have MS? Do I? Once again the tense all sorts of huh. Every once in a while I hear the jingle to Trivia Crack, an app I played incessantly alone in my hotel room in Israel, or I hear the ring of a Skype call, and I am right back there, that feeling, that white room, far away from everything ever and I can't breathe from the something I can't even name.
(Other times I tell people that if this treatment worked and I no longer have MS, then the whole ordeal--getting MS, researching the treatment, going to Israel, having a bone marrow transplant, chemo, getting sick, getting healthy--if it worked, then this whole ordeal is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has made me feel more alive, more appreciative, more present, more more. More afraid, more angry, more sad, because of course, if it didn't work, then it's the worst thing that ever happened to me. And then I laugh a little. Ha.)
This time last. Here I am today. I hate my hair growing out from chemo, but I also have a new found sense of whatever. The best thing that ever happened to me, the worst thing that ever happened to me. Either way, it was just a thing that happened to me.
This time now.