Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mick McKellar Update--Day + 185

It has been ten days since my last update. The gall bladder situation seems to have resolved itself with the aid of antibiotics and five days of medical care at Portage Health. The course of oral antibiotics has ended, along with the ongoing stomach upset and other less agreeable side effects of those additional medications. My weekly blood tests show that my condition has once again stabilized and my hemoglobin, although still low at 9.0 is much improved from the low of 7.9 when I left the hospital.

Sticker shock...

As expected, the medical bills continue to flow in from Mayo Clinic and elsewhere, as BCBS of MI and my medical providers sort through more than six months of activity and identify services not covered by my insurance. Of course, I must review the material and have calls in to both BCBS and Mayo Clinic to clarify and perhaps even appeal some of their coverage decisions.

In all my years as a writer and editor, I handled entire manuscripts that came no where close to the sheer size and density of the paperwork surrounding my blood and marrow transplant. The BCBS statements alone already fill a 3 inch ring binder. In case you were wondering, the total bill for the transplant (so far) has topped the $125,000.00 mark and is still rising. I may not be the six million dollar man, but I have made a great down payment on achieving that status.

Al fresco...oh, no!

Two evenings ago, Marian and I decided to dine al fresco...on our deck. There was a warm evening breeze and the temperature was moderate (about 75 degrees). I opened the umbrella on our deck table and arranged my dinner in the shade. I have to avoid direct sunlight exposure for more than a few minutes a day, or provide some sort of protection (clothing, hat, sunscreen, etc.) because several of my ongoing medications prohibit exposure.

Marian, as usual, sat in the open, absorbing as many rays as possible, as I huddled under the umbrella near the outside wall of our home. There was only a small slot open to the sky over my head and slightly behind me. I donned my sunglasses and double-checked my sunscreen. I settled down to enjoy my rapidly cooling dinner. I had barely managed one mouthful of my food, when the idyllic scene was disrupted by the pin-point bombing skill of a high-flying starling. The sudden appearance of a bird poop bomb on my left arm and left hand signaled a rapidly deteriorating evening of dining pleasure.

I rushed inside to clean up and returned to my now cold dinner, encouraged by the localized effect of the bombing and lack of collateral damage...i.e., no poop in the food. However, as I set to once again, another visitor dropped by share my meal. A rather large and nasty looking wasp landed on the table and proceeded to crawl onto my plate, making a beeline for the meat sauce on my pasta.

Naturally, I tried to shoo him away, but he was not having any of it. The irascible bug hunkered down between my pasta and my steamed yellow beans, and I swear he glared at me. Grasping the tines on my fork, I flicked him off my plate with the fork handle and waited for him to either come at me or fly away. Instead, he stalked across the glass surface of our deck table and crawled right back on my plate. Nonplussed, I repeated the wasp flicking exercise twice more, and each time my stubborn, winged dinner guest shambled back onto my plate and dared me to do it again. Finally, I flicked him away a fourth time, grabbed my plate of food and returned to the seclusion of our dinner table indoors. When I looked back, the wasp was still there, as though waiting to be served.

Marian said he bothered her a bit. She told him to go away and he did. Go figure.

Hurry up and wait...

I checked my online account with Mayo Clinic today, and I still do not have an appointment scheduled for my next follow up visit. Indications are that they plan to schedule my visit at the end of September. This works well for me, because my younger son, Michael, is coming home from Washington (near Seattle) for a visit in mid-September. Marian is going to Seattle for a visit with Heather and her family during the first two weeks of October.

Meanwhile, I shuffle from one day to the next, enjoying life one day at a time. It is now more than six months since my transplant, and despite the prescriptions, the protocols, and the paranoia, I thank God for the gift of each and every new day. I also thank you all for your visits, letters, cards, e-mails, and communications.

God bless and good afternoon,


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