Coup-Fourré!

This week has been full of milestones. When I think of milestones, I remember the French card game we played as kids, Mille Bornes, which was basically a car race of the eponymous thousand miles played out in cards… Cards of milestones. The game could be extended by the player who reaches that goal first… just as our journey has the potential to be extended for a number of variables. Along the way your opponent plays attack cards against you… flat tires, out of gas, and so on. You always hope you’ll have a safety card in your hand to get you once more on your way. But the image of the milestones pictured on these cards stay with me as we navigate our own race.

So, our milestones…The biggest and brightest is that we had a blast at Richard and Noelle’s wedding this past weekend. The travel plans all synchronized like Esther Williams’ backup swimmers. We zipped through security, pre-boarding and arrivals with nary a glitch. It was a wonderful weekend full of friends and family from all over the country. To see so many people gather together, multiple generations, to celebrate this fantastic couple made our hearts sing. Rich partied, danced, and celebrated with the rest of us. That he basically slept for the next four days is irrelevant. That he was there and participated to his fullest with a smile a thousand miles wide was all that mattered.

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Once we got home, we completed chemo cycle three. We made sure that everything was properly in place before the infusions began and for the most part, the days were unremarkable. To pass the time we brought our digital picture frame filled to the brim with photos from this past weekend. Our friends and family were with us.

From what we understand, this milestone defines the end of the RCHOP protocol and, in three weeks, the start of RICE. To learn more, we meet with the head of the stem cell transplant team next week. In the meantime we compile our list of questions and concerns. We hope to have a clear understanding of this next phase of our journey to wellness. So far we’ve had known issues and a map that was our notes from ten years ago to guide us along the way. We found new solutions to old outstanding issues and have made this path as easy as possible to date.

Now that map goes out the window and we take the unmarked trail. We know we’ll continue to have a team we trust to guide us along the way, but in the deepest moments of the dark night, we’ll not have the confidence of our past with us. So together we’ll meet those moments of indecision find our way through the pitfalls with our new cast of wisdom and caring… and a little nudge from our internet basket of tricks.

Very few who follow this path to health can continue to work full time, full speed. Each day brings a new moment where the threshold of Can and Can’t meet. Each day, that threshold moves a little closer to the morning light. We’re sure that the period of working full time has come to an end and the focus will begin to shift in another direction. This milestone has taken longer to reach than it did before and we’re grateful for the additional time and pay it has afforded us.

They keep telling me it’s easy but then again, it’s something they do every day. Tonight I have a personal milestone as I injected the latest Neulasta shot into Rich’s arm myself. The idea is to eliminate the need to go to the Monter Center every three weeks and instead administer the injection at home. Mission accomplished…. Though we’ll see if his arm is still attached in the morning!

We’ve also been visited by the last of our old friends… peripheral neuropathy has come to call at last. The milestone of tingling, pain and numbness in the extremities has taken a while for us to reach. As with all the side effects, we have a solution… this time in the form of the maximum daily doses recommended for vitamin B6. We know this helps prevent and push back the neuropathy. Last time, by now, Rich had it up to his elbows and knees. Within this last week it has just started at his fingertips. He’s been taking some B6 in his daily vitamin mix and perhaps this has helped. We now boost it to the maximum. Again we look at this as another confirmation of the work the beneficial poisons are doing. We know that when all is said and done, like the other effects, this one will recede once more.

In Mille Bornes, a card held aside in order to counter an attack card is called a coup-fourré. Joyously as you slam your safety card over the attack, you yell out “Coup-Fourré!” Our box of safety cards in the form of meds grows as we continue our race to the finish and each time we can’t but be joyous as we pull them out of our deck with each attack knowing that this is one race we will win. Milles Bornes will be ours.

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