Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Bad News and Good News

I am at that spot again that I feel compelled to post again. I am still on the dark side of an upper respiratory system. It developed slowly last week Sunday and progressively became worse and  by Thursday I was becoming exhausted from coughing. On Friday I began to run a temp and by the late afternoon it had reached 101 and higher. So I decided it was time to head for the ER. We did, Isaac and Lynne and I. After blood work, Xrays, and Dr.'s exam, the Dr. came in with 2 scripts and said I could go home. We were stunned. Going home? Not being admitted? No fooling? Yes. They had decided my blood counts were okay and I was far enough out from my transplant that my immune system was stronger now and I should be able to handle this with oral medications. Being sick at home is a new thing and I can do that. The bad part of that is that  Lynne has come down with the  same symptoms and has had a trip to the Dr. and is on antibiotics as well. We are coping. It will be a very quiet remembering of Jesus' birth and we will do it alone, together.

So back to the part of being compelled to post, I feel that when I take a bad turn I do well to post that, to let y'all, who have been concerned about us over all these years, know about it. The upside? I can do this at home now. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Riding the Ride

I just finished reading my last post. I was feeling pretty good then. Then and now, what a difference. On the 10 of July I had spiked a fever of 101.4, that is high for someone in my situation and that meant a trip to the ER at MDA and I spent 3 days on IV antibiotics and then 10 days on oral antibiotics. Nothing showed up on any of the blood work and temps dropped by the time I was admitted. I had been doing so well. While in the ER Lynne told them about a sore on the side of my neck that would not heal over, and wanted  dermatology to be called in for a consult, and a biopsy taken. Result? Basal cell carcinoma. I met with a dermatology surgeon  about removing it and he also biopsied another suspicious one and froze another spot on my left hand. I was warned that the process of treating cancer knocks out the immune system and having been on immune suppressing drugs as well I am a prime candidate to become a host for a multitude of , "slings and arrows". Hamlet asks, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"
 Oppose? We will. End? It is always a question. The surgeon says the success rate is 99%. Now I know that this cancer is more likely an issue about sun exposure than it is anything else and could be cumulative from a long time ago. It is my propensity for suspicion that this might be a foreshadowing of monsters in the dark, dark room of cancer where I live.
 I have ridden this roller coaster before and I know I will feel again what I did in the last post and I will take the ride.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hang On Stem Cells

I have repeatedly thought to myself  that I would cease posting on this blog since my health has improved, so much so, that I have become very busy with other things and posting has been low on my list of things to do, on my To Do List. There is are vegetables to harvest, lawn mowers to fix, weed eaters to repair, and grass to cut, and on and on and on. AND THAT IS GOOD! I repeat. THAT IS VERY GOOD! I am doing that well. My energy levels have increased and there has been no reoccurrence of any temps or infections. The time between my appointments with my Dr. is now 3 months and that is in conjunction with my CT scan and bone marrow biopsy which are usually every 3 months and this one is 6 months. I also find that I think about my illness much less and talk about it even less frequently. I am reminded, though,  of my situation every time I take my multiple medications 4 x a day. As Isaac would say, "Better living through chemistry".

Through this all I am  beginning to think differently about myself and realize I have experienced the full wrath that an illness can bring to bear upon a body and that, " the wear and tear" I have experienced  has put a lot of miles on me much like miles on a car. Inside, however, I am okay and the statistics say with CLL the life expectancy is about 7 years. I know those are only stats. Since diagnosis I have lived about 3.5 years. Half my life is over? No, I do not live life that way. Lynne and I have a strong desire to live at least another 25 years, the Lord willing, for some very personal reasons. So stems cells, hang on for a long ride. This is our prayer, O God.
New International Version  Ps. 90:10
Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Road I Don't Travel Well

Sometimes there is not much to say about my health except I keep chugging along. I did have a scare about a month ago. I started to have an elevated temperature and after monitoring for about 2 hours it did go up to 101 , and that is "Head for the ER" time. My first reaction was frustration and anger. "Come on now. Is this going to happen for the rest of my life?" I'm not sure to whom  I was addressing that question. It's one of those questions I ask when I know the correct answer and I would rather live in denial, that I am normal now and I can handle these things. It's just a temperature, even babies handle slight elevations. After a couple of days in the hospital, nothing showed up in any of the tests to explain why this happened. My atrial fibrillation started to act up and that became more of an issue. When that happens we usually increase the metoprolol. That medication not only slows the heart but also decreases blood pressure. Mine was low and protocol for the staff is that they cannot give me my meds. Finally someone authorized changing the numbers and I get the meds and the heart rate goes back to normal. The cardiologist recommended a new medication and it, however, did not work very well so I am back on the meds I had before with a slight increase.

Isaac was there when I asked the rhetorical question and he reminded me of the patient who had been visiting family. She was 7 years post transplant and yet, here she was in the hospital. They thought she picked up something in a salad bar at a restaurant. And there was the man who had developed an infection in the face and they had to do surgery to try and remove it. I do so hope that is my last trip to the ER. I find it hard to say, "It won't be".  Anger has subsided and I have moved more to acceptance. I certainly am not there yet as I experienced one more time "the rush to the ER".

Slowly but surely I grieve the loss of health and move to accepting who I am now. I'm not there yet but I see the road ahead of me.

A Housing Glut

In the world of birds for some of them there seems to be an abundance of nesting possibilities at least for those that like to live in those holes in the trees. After the draught took a huge toll on the pine trees in our area over the last few years there are a lot of dead trees that are still standing. The woodpeckers have a veritable smorgasbord of grubs and bugs and have left behind plenty of holes in their pantry of trees and the birds like starlings, bluebirds, owls, woodpeckers and the list goes on and according to one source, 85  different species nest in the cavities of these dead trees throughout the country. These trees are often seen as unsightly and a fire hazard and are cut down as soon as possible in both forested and urban areas. And then we say to ourselves, "Ah, that's better.". I have enjoyed the extra bird traffic this year because of these dead trees that we have and perhaps the upside of the draught will be more habitats for our fine feathered friends

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Cycles of Things

We have sprung into spring and although that may be a hard sell to some folks up north, the calendar says it usually comes about now, give or take a week or so. For us in the Gulf Coast, it is here, complete with the pollen clouding the air.

The last few weeks I have been feeling the urge to get out and get going and that is the seasonal part of my cycle in the past. I have been feeling well and energy level was good. I felt that this was a definite improvement over last year. I had just celebrated my 2nd anniversary of the Stem Cell Transplant. This was great. Then last Saturday I began to have a fever and it was high 90's at first and then just over 100 and up to 101 at a point. We have been instructed that I go to MDA emergency immediately if it reaches 100.4. Dang it. So we head down and by 4 am I am in a hospital bed, with antibiotics and fluids. It was also a time that my afib starts up so I am hooked up with a monitor as well. By Monday morning some of the results come in and there are no infections and I also get a consult with a cardiologist and they said we could try another medication to control the afib. Isaac was downtown and waited the hours that it took to my discharge.

It was a excellent example that I must be aware that I am always at risk for a flair up of some kind or another. They found nothing and that is good. One time they had discharged me and as we were leaving the parking lot they called me back to say something had shown up and I needed to stay a little longer.

In the mean time Isaac said I had become dehydrated and also lost weight. I had not noticed. So some new challenges still lie ahead. I am at home and I still feel well and it has been a good week. Today I work on the garden. It will be good therapy. Thanks Lynne and Isaac, left to myself I may not have gone in and intellectually I know that can be dangerous and life threatening. Thanks again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'm 2 Years Old Today

So today, Lynne and I, along with Isaac and Katie, sat down and broke bread together on the occasion of the 2 year anniversary of my Stem Cell Transplant. My sincere gratitude and thanks go out again, to Brian Re, my donor. I will forever remember him and each year the gift is more treasured. Thanks again Brian. This past week I have felt fantastic and each month I feel stronger. I thank God for all these wonderful gifts.