I was sure Underdog said it. I’ve actually spent the bulk of my 8-dollar Southwest wifi fee trying to prove it, but there’s no need to fear, that Underdog quote’s NOT here. He was NOT the one who said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So far today, though, putting pooch and proverb together is the only goal I didn’t eventually achieve.
The challenges started early. It’s a Georgetown day, which always starts with what has been a pretty routine blood draw in Room 5N. Unlike in the Sutent trial, my red and white blood cell and enzyme levels have been acceptable with the PHA. Things started getting a little wobbly two weeks ago. I actually didn’t make my white blood cell count. I needed a count of 1.0; I had .7. I learned back in the Sutent days that a short red-line exercise session can bump up the white blood cell count. I only managed a .9 with a few laps up the back stairs, but Dr G let me continue with the trial and the dosage, saying he’d take the rap if the drug company got mad (it/they didn’t). I chalked the low number up to the fact that I slept 20 minutes the night before, since my UNITED plane was delayed three hours in CHICAGO. This is a combination I avoid like the plague, having been stranded in Chicago over and over and over and over by United. I warned my brother about this, but he didn’t believe me. He does now. I digress. (Like most United flights going through Chicago.)
A sleepless night may have been a factor, but I whiffed my labs today even without a United flight. .8. Dr G told me to take a week off, then start another lower dose drug cycle in a week. I balked. I JUST booked flights to Bolivia according to my current drug schedule (more on that later), and shifting doc visits would screw everything up. Dr G said Ok, go home and get a blood test tomorrow and we’ll start the lower dose drug cycle tomorrow, if you make your numbers. But I can do math in my head. If last time, my WBC count came up .2 with some stair climbing, then it’ll probably happen again, and .2 is all I need. Discussion discussion discussion. Then he asked if I really wanted to get another blood test. The Underdog (though misquoted) in me said YES.
I ran up and down the stairs a few times, then came back in to see if I’d been called for labs yet. Back out to run some more in my Michael Johnson gold shoes (my version). I did that three or four times, much to the annoyance of the family that happened to be sitting by the stairwell. (My sister-in-law, Sheryl, pointed out this was a great, yet sneaky, way to get my 10,000 steps for Fit Bit.) But success was to be had. 1.0 on the labs redux. That meant I was sent away with drugs for another cycle, full dose. I also found out I’m one of the few (only?) people still on the full 150 mg dose of the drug. Most (all?) of the others in this trial have dropped back. That has to be a good thing, right? We’ll find out in two weeks.
In August, my niece, Jennifer, will help cover US Track and Field in Rio for NBC. She’s spending six weeks before that noodling around South America, a continent I’ve not visited and therefore a conquest. I compared my travel availability with Jen’s itinerary and Bolivia is what works. I don’t think I have voluntarily (or involuntarily) thought about Bolivia in my lifetime. That pretty much makes it a terrific conquest; unexpected and random and weird. That’s also how I’d describe trying to get a freaking visa for that country. I tried for an entire afternoon to fill out and upload photos, itineraries, hotel reservations, and BANK STATEMENTS TO PROVE SOLVENCY???? at home. Big fail. I called the consulate, and the guy said, Oh, you can’t use a Mac. Huh? So I took everything to the library and tried their PC. I still couldn’t upload files. The computer girl at the library failed, too. I packed everything up and brought it to my brother, who after an hour, was able to resize and rework and redo everything and make it work. We thought. I brought it all to the consulate after my doc appointment, and the girl said, “Oh, you didn’t fill out the block for your middle name.” I said, “There’s no red star on that block. I don’t have to.” She assured me that I did. And told me I had to start all over. For the ten thousandth time. And there’s a Starbucks two blocks away, because I can’t use the consulate’s wifi. But of course I can use my Mac. I’m sure I won’t be able to make it work, and I don’t have all the files with me, but I’m going to give it a try. Most of the form has Spanish and English, but there are a few lines that have no translation, and the decoder ring site I used translated one line as “instead of the solicitad.” I was on my own. Not knowing what the question really is, I wrote “Maryland, United States.” I managed to get the visa form to finish, by uploading my passport photo into all the required boxes. (I think the consulate woman told me to do that, but I couldn’t really understand her.) I trudged back uphill (!) to the consulate where she told me my name needed to be on the bank statement I’d uploaded, so I’d have to start all over again. I must have given her an incredible Underdog sad face, because she actually let me slide. And after 3 days and with the help of several Big Computer Brains, I have my visa. Well, I have the application in anyway. The woman also said there’s a chance I’ll have to do even more and pay even more when I get in to La Paz AT TWO O CLOCK IN THE MORNING next moth. I’ll be so jet lagged by then, I won’t care. Probably.
I’ll spare you the story of me fighting 10 mile an hour traffic to get to my “not United” plane to fly home. Instead, I’ll tell you about my plane. It’s a Southwest plane that I’m on right now. I’ll fly Southwest to my Georgetown appointments now for FREE, thanks to a Southwest grant. The airline gave a million dollars (one MILLION dollars) to ten non-profit hospitals for medical transport for patients to fly to appointments. Georgetown is one of those hospitals, and that means until the grant runs out, I fly Southwest for free, back and forth to my appointments. Southwest doesn’t advertise this, is asking for no credit for this program. Its people just think they can make a difference in a way few can. Staggering. I am so grateful and still can’t believe it’s true. But it is. I’ve now booked my next flight and didn’t have to give my credit card info. They even put in my TSA Precheck number. Blown away.
One last big thing before I go. Patrick and I have been surfing pet rescue sites since not long after Emmitt Smith left us for the big dance floor in the sky. I kept returning to a photo of a sad, tattered, old orange at Paws for Life in Heber City. We finally went to see the cat they called Valentino at his foster’s house. He was even skinnier and scragglier (and older) than he looked in his photos. He had medium bad teeth and cysts and an old man wobble. And he looked so sad. He is also the spitting image of Puss in Boots in Shrek, in the scene with the soldiers. I had to have him. We’ve renamed him Teddy (Brosevelt) Roosevelt (in honor of the president, who started the national park system which turns 100 years old this year. Even though he’s a Republicat.) (How random am I?). He is the nicest, sweetest, most affectionate kitty I’ve ever had. Patrick says he’s like that overloved teddy bear that we all had. I have to agree. He was a real life underdog, who was rescued from the wild, walking the mean streets of Sandy earlier this year. He was obviously somebody’s and is so happy to be somebody’s again that I can hardly stand it. I’m sad he had to spend so much time being lost and scared and sad, but now he’s home for the rest of his life. There’s no need to fear. Teddy Brosevelt is here.