Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mick McKellar Update — Day +500!

Me, Sandy, Tim, and Kevin
Serendipity — maybe, but in my (never) very humble opinion, it's great that the 500th day since the gift of life from my brother Kevin should also be the birthday of our country. Although I may gasp a bit for breath when singing about today's milestone, it truly feels wonderful to be alive and kickin' five hundred days from my blood and marrow stem cell transplant. It has been only a few short days since brothers Kevin and Tim, Kevin's son KJ, and my sister Sandy visited for a mini McKellar family reunion of sorts. We spent days pouring over old family photos Kevin had been storing since our Dad's death in 2005. When my son, Andrew, brought his family over, three generations of McKellars spent hours sharing and laughing ourselves silly over a game of Apples to Apples. 

I hope I can remember that day...

Sibling Revelry

I had four younger siblings, however in 2003, my youngest brother, Daniel, died from COPD (emphysema). Remaining of my parents' offspring are: me (the oldest), Tim, Sandy, and Kevin. We five all arrived within a span of less than seven years, so we are pretty tight age-wise. Growing up, however, a barrier (mostly of my own construction) grew up between me and my younger siblings. I believe it was partly due to an accident in my crib that injured my hands and feet when I was 18 months old, making my parents especially careful when playing with me...meaning they did not often play and almost never would "rough house" with me as a child. My mother said that, as a child, I was grim — and ofttimes referred to my saturnine face and dark, watchful eyes. At about age 3, I turned to books and pretty much quit playing games, except for flashlight tag and war games in our back yard, using small lumps of clay soil as weapons (like paintball, but without the armor...).

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of our evenings during their visit, was to finally hear myself described in their experience as studious, stiff, and standoffish. I guess I was rather self-contained — staying indoors most of the Detroit area summers because of asthma and hay fever — reading books and writing short stories and "sappy" poems. This made it difficult to relate to my extremely active siblings. Still it was magic to reminisce about things we did with (and to) each other. Although I've been telling the stories for years, I was overjoyed to hear them from another point of view. Their visit was a precious gift.

Still Waiting for the Other Shoe to Fall...

My doctor at Mayo Clinic called on Monday. The echocardiogram was normal...I do have a heart, and it does not look any worse than the last exam. Certainly, there was nothing apparent to cause my dramatic loss of lung function. The CT scan of my lungs showed nothing abnormal — no fuzzy clouds of infection, no blockages, no apparent damage. The results from the bronchoscopy were not yet available. They looked around with a camera, did a bronchoalveolar lavage, and a biopsy. I hope to hear something this week to explain why I am so short of breath and why my results on a pulmonary function study showed a nearly 60% loss of capacity and function, compared to my last test, more than two months ago.

My other test results looked great. My recalcitrant GVHD rash seems once again in retreat, though reluctant to retire from the battlefield. My eyes are holding their own, although the cataract in my right eye grows steadily worse — allowing me to view the right side of the world through the bottom of a old, yellow bottle. The neuropathy in my hands and feet remains, although I try to stem the tide with exercise and working about the house. Now, if only I could just carry a bag of groceries from the car without having to sit down and catch my breath, and then find something to mop the sweat from my bushy brow and newly capacious forehead before it drips into my sensitive eyes. 

Is the Intrepid Walker Back?

Perhaps. However, he is much slower than previously. Each morning, beginning July 1, I've walked my 2.5 mile path, as an early morning constitutional. I have to get up by 6:00 AM, and try to get on the road by 6:15 - 6:30 AM. This allows me to walk without worry about excessive exposure to direct (and very, very warm) sunlight. I must walk slowly — it takes me an hour, perhaps 2 or 3 minutes more, to walk the 2.5 miles, because I must stop to catch my breath and my bearings. Early joggers sometimes do a quick double-take at the slow-moving old fart — wearing long-sleeves, floppy hat, and sunglasses — tottering about on the early morning mean streets of Laurium. I say, let them giggle in their tiny shorts, tees, and trainers.

A few weeks ago, a small fellow (about 4 or 5 years old) asked me why I was wearing that hat. I told him it was to keep the last of my hair from blowing away. I could still see his small face, watching silently, as I turned the corner a block away. I think he may have believed me...

Best Wishes...

for a blessed and happy Fourth of July, and a great bundle of thank yous for all the prayers and good thoughts you send us. I must get to bed and try to sleep to the sound of fire crackers and home fireworks exploding in our neighborhood.

Good night and God bless,


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