Friday, June 24, 2011

Mick McKellar Update--Day +123

Intrepid walker in downtown Laurium

The intrepid walker has not been doing very much walking of late. The weather simply has not been cooperative, and I really don't want to take any chances in cold and rainy weather. However, the rain stopped this afternoon and it warmed up a bit, so Marian and I walked to the Laurium Post Office and mail a letter, of course. It felt good to be "out and about" again. The walk went well (nearly two miles around) and I only had to stop and rest once.

As always, I hope to be out there regularly, wandering around on the sidewalk (where there are sidewalks) and down the side of the road.

Mostly good numbers

Yesterday was blood test day, and I went to Portage Health to visit the lab. It was interesting to discover that my weekly blood tests had not been ordered. The nurse, however, was aware of my situation and they did the blood tests anyway. I'm supposed to do these tests every week and I bring in a kit to send blood samples to Mayo Clinic. I also find it very interesting to have blood tests done by poking holes in my arm again. During the months in which I had the Hickman catheter, they simply linked up to the end of my catheter, and drew the blood from there. Now, they have to find a vein -- and have been doing a very good job of it.

The test results were generally good, although my hemoglobin level decreased from 9.9 to 9.1. It appears the hemolysis continues. The other numbers were all up or down, and some were even in the normal range. Perhaps most important, my bilirubin was at 1.0 and my creatinen was at 1.4. Those are very good numbers. They have not yet determined what is causing my anemia.

The best numbers

When they reduced my insulin injections to 10 units per day, the expectation was that my blood glucose would soar -- or at least rise. It did not. In fact, my evening reading (just before our evening meal) came it at 79...too low. Even before that extremely low reading, my diabetes coordinator at Mayo Clinic decided we would try the weekend without insulin injections, and see what happens. Hope is renewed that this episode of steroid-induced diabetes is over (or will be over soon).

"Only change is certain..."

Socrates was right. Nothing in my life has remained unchanged by my illness. Even the way things taste and smell are different. My hearing and my eyesight have worsened. My eyes were affected by the leukemia, but I don't know why my hearing has diminished. My energy level fluctuates, sometimes minute-by-minute. I won't go into all the details, but I can safely say that my body simply doesn't operate the way it did before and the changes continue.

The way I relate to others and the way they relate to me has changed. Some changes are subtle and others are not. For example, we were walking down Isle Royale Street this afternoon (on our journey to the post office) and we passed a yard with five children...all very blond and apparently ranging from about age three to age five...playing outside. They all stopped dead in their tracks at the same moment -- when they caught sight of ol' Darth Mick (mask, dark glasses. floppy hat) walking by. For what must have been more than a minute they just stopped and stared, no movement, no noise, and frozen like little statues.

Finally, one little girl called out to Marian: "Why does he wear a mask?" It's one of the reasons I love watching kids. They unabashedly focus on what interests them and then they ask the obvious questions. Adults seem to peek out of the corner of their eyes or look away when I look at them. Too embarrassed to ask, or too frightened to inquire, they walk away wondering, "Why is that guy wearing a mask?"

I will be wearing the mask for a long time -- at least until my immune system is functional and I am once again immunized. No, I don't wear it at home, unless we're vacuuming or dusting or if we have visitors who might be ill. The worst is that I have to wear the mask when my grandkids are around. They are wonderful little guys, but they are also germ machines.

Another change happens when I meet friends and family. They want to shake my hand and I generally withdraw to avoid touching others. I find it less embarrassing than taking out my bottle of hand sanitizer after shaking hands. Most folks are just confused about what to do. I try to diffuse the situation with a knuckle bump, but that doesn't always work. Social situations can get complicated when you wear a surgical mask...

The sun hasn't set yet, but the shadows are growing longer and twilight approaches. I thank you all for your communications, prayers, and good thoughts.

God bless and good night,


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