Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +252

The intrepid walker has not been walking very far for the past few weeks. It seems some of my medications have combined forces to produce prodigious pedal edema. Swollen legs, ankles, and feet make walking unsteady and very uncomfortable. One of the suspected culprits, Norvasc (a calcium channel blocker), will soon be replaced with Lopressor (a beta blocker). I have the new medication, but was advised not to switch because of tomorrow's grand adventure.

Tomorrrow morning (October 31...yeah, Halloween) at 6:00 AM, I will check into Portage Health for surgery to remove my gall bladder. I am scheduled for laparoscopic surgery (i.e., four bandaid surgery), which would normally be handled on a outpatient basis, but may require that I remain at least overnight to monitor the response of my compromised immune system. Recovery from laparoscopic cholecystectomy normally requires about two weeks. In my case, they said from at least two to likely four weeks.

The rush to get this done is based on my upcoming appointment at Mayo Clinic on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2011. I need to be healed to drive for nine hours to Rochester, the winter. They need two days testing this time, because of concerns over a decrease in my lung function, from 84% in June, to 68% in September. Suspicious of pulmonary fibrosis, I will need a CAT scan and more pulmonary function studies to make the diagnosis.

Lots of fun, eh?

Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts. God bless and good night,


Monday, October 10, 2011

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +231

I wrote a poem today, and I have not been writing much lately. Considering how much joy it gives me to put my virtual quill to electronic paper, I had to search for a reason. In that search, I discovered to my chagrin, that I may well have been hiding from the blunt and solid reality of living with my infirmity, my inability to make the final leap from terminally ill to terribly uncertain. Sometimes, I feel like the ancient oak: stolid and solid on the outside, yet silently rotting within. Little wonder, I guess, that I would seek to hide in plain sight, and become just A Face in the Crowd -- the name of my poem.

The poem is a departure for me, a free-verse, free-wheeling run through the autumn leaves blowing about in my mind. It has been 231 days since my brother's gift brought me back from the brink of oblivion and started me down a new path. Obviously, the path has been (and remains) strewn with plenty of large, sharp stones and pervasive potholes. For each step forward, there has been a price, but a small price for living on, well beyond the six to eight month term limit predicted by my doctors prior to the stem cell transplant. Days like today make it seem the transplant was a lifetime ago. Each day of the 231 feels like a lifetime in microcosm, a full generation trapped in amber to be put on my shelf and re-visited...or at least dusted occasionally to keep the warm golden gleam kindled deep within as brilliant and mellow as possible.

How does one measure such treasure? How does one communicate the joy of pain, when pain is the proof of life, the immutable substance of existence, and the loving link to life among family and friends? Only poetry holds the promise and potential to paint, to sculpt, to visualize the full measure of the treasure.

Intrepid walker surveys Brockway Mtn.
The tree has a new ring

Summer is past and autumn announces the threat and promise of white winter. I have lived and grown since last we spoke, though in silence, in a solitary retreat from my habit of stridently announcing my current medical status to any and all who would stop and take notice. My younger son, Michael, came for a visit. Marian is currently in Federal Way, WA -- visiting with my daughter and two of our grandchildren. I did not travel, both to avoid two long entombments inside sealed tubes of aircraft aluminum, with concomitant exposure to viruses and bacteria, and to free Marian to enjoy time with grandchildren who would be hampered by rules not to touch grandpa -- the fellow in the Darth mask -- for nearly two weeks.

While the cat is away...

...there is no time to play! My days have been busy since Marian departed for Washington. I had my eyes checked and discovered that my far-sightedness in my right eye has degraded by a factor or four since my last check up (in 2008, oops). Apparently my sole remaining cataract, a yellow one, has decided to misbehave. Surgery is indicated, but I opted for a new lens in my glasses for the moment, as my doctors already want to me have my gall bladder removed in the next couple of weeks. Soon, I could give to meaning to the term: "Hollow Man."

I cleaned out my garage and actually managed to park our small car in there. It took nearly a full day of drudgery in a Darth mask, but it IS done. I raked both piles of leaves and bushels of apples from my about a renewable resource...yikes! Today, I even managed to wash my own laundry and hang it outside to dry. I feel positively domestic.

Of course, all my activities (the above and much more) have been limited by my anemia and quickly-depleted batteries. At least, I have been sleeping well. All in all I am doing quite well, considering.

Thanks for all your ongoing prayers and good thoughts. Good afternoon, and God bless.