Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Best ever

I had a phrase I said a lot when our son Gene was a baby, "best baby ever." In remembering that, I thought when I came to Seattle that I would try to be the "best patient ever." Positive messages are good, although not a panacea, or else I wouldn't have gotten cancer to begin with, since my motto was always, "I don't get sick."

So it was without too much surprise to find out this week some evidence of how well I am doing. My red and white blood cell counts have started going back up! There's also evidence that my other major organs are doing fine, too. That means I'm recovering from the chemotherapy and radiation, in what the doctors say is in better than average time.

That's all good, but I have a lot of watchful waiting left to go. There are a few minor issues, I'm often tired and the medications aren't the most pleasant. But if I can continue to be the good patient and take my medications on schedule, eat well, and stay active, I expect to continue to do well.

The main highlight this week was another visit from Gene, and from Marilyn's sister. We had a very nice delayed birthday celebration.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Appreciating my Caregiver

Role reversal isn't always comfortable, especially for a role that has taken on a life-saving significance. I've been my own caregiver ever since day one and I found they were cutting on my genitals*. Obviously, as well as I could then think, I could tell these people didn't care about me, so I vowed to do it myself as best I could. Then I discovered I had 4 brothers, and they weren't in much better shape, so I did the only thing I could, I took care of them, too. Then I went on to taking care of friends' kids, and even was a single foster parent of 2 teen-aged boys.

So, it is with much gratitude and virtual disbelief, that I find my life partner of nearly 17 years taking such good care of me. It's hard letting go, but Marilyn has been ultimately patient with me and very helpful.

I did get my stem cells last week, and now it's a waiting game, waiting the 100 days until I can go home, but also watching for any symptoms and addressing them quickly. None so far, but the preventative medicine has made me feel a little tired.

*A new report has just been printed in the British Journal of Urology, Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis that concludes, "Circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis." Besides, it just plain hurts like torture!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

State Champs!

The Pee Wee Warriors won the state championship in the Tier II A division!

Gene is the star goalie in the lower right, with the white pads.

Congratulations to the whole team, and many thanks for a lot of work to the coaches, managers, and parent volunteers! Especially those that helped get Gene to games and practices when we couldn't.

For the hockey fans out there, a little more detail is probably in order. In the tournament, there were 2 divisions, and Gene's team placed 1st in their division, beating opponents 6-1, 4-1, and 7-1. In the first playoff game they won 5-2. The final was a nail-biter, with the other team scoring first and our team catching up, twice, before Gene's team pulled ahead and won 3-2.

What else is there to say? For me, conditioning has started, and everything is on schedule. Yes, I am having minor symptoms from the conditioning chemotherapy, but not bad. I should be able to work nearly a full day tomorrow, but it will be day by day after that.

I'm so glad for your comments and emails. It helps a lot to help me remember, as a good friend recently said, "More people are hoping and praying for you than you know." Likewise, I'm wishing the best for more of you than you know, as I know I'm not the only one with health challenges. As Gene's goalie coach told me, "Fight Hard!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

On schedule

The transplant schedule has stayed the same since last week, it all begins next Monday. The answer to the question "has the donor confirmed" was "yes," so I'm very happy about that. I've been trying to think what it must be like for a young man to do this. He must have a very strong sense of community, and a good relationship with his parents, since I would be about their age or more. It's a fine thing, that's for sure.

Regarding my lung function, it was reassuring to learn this week that my DLCO test result of 47% should be compared to 80%, which is normal, not 100%. There's no sense in letting it get worse, though, so I started my weekly treatment of Prolastin, with no side effects that I can tell.

Moving back and forth between Seattle and home has been a slight challenge, but it's been very nice to be home for a little while longer. Thankfully, the street construction by Mercer that could only be done at night (all night!) is finished. That only leaves the annoying day-time construction noise of the new building just beginning construction right outside the window, across an alley. We've put in for an apartment on the other side of the building. The sad thing was that we had just noticed a raccoon couple playing in the trees on the vacant lot just before they tore the trees out. I thought it would be fun watching the raccoons the next few months, but they're long gone, now.

It was so good to see some great friends at work yesterday when I went to pick up my new building pass. I hope to be able to do that more on the good days while I'm in Seattle. Actually, the picture on the pass is shortly after my first stem cell transplant, so I look almost like it, although a touch more gray these days. The young guy on the old pass is long gone!

Hockey season is almost over, but there's still the state tournament this weekend! Go Team!