Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mick McKellar Update -- Day+738

Wow! It's been a long time since I last posted an update -- 92 days to be exact. During those 92 days, much water has passed below my bridge and much snow has fallen upon my path. I last wrote immediately after Thanksgiving, about the time I began to play with shovel and scoop, tottering about in our driveway and congratulating myself with moving a bit of snow. I called it "brinkmanship" and had great plans to push my limits throughout the winter months.

Start the New Year Right!

Well, I was hiding at home to avoid contact with all those nasty germs and viruses out there, when I decided it would be a good idea to attend Mass on Christmas Eve. A week later, on New Years Eve, I was in hospital with a respiratory infection. Three days later I was home, and three more days later, I was off the high-dose antibiotics and Prednisone...back on my usual schedule of medications. But something had capacity for tolerating cold air was diminished and even light effort had me gasping for air. I was back at square one.

Marian moves an overnight delivery.
I picked a bad time to become unavailable for snow shoveling and scooping. January was an incredibly snowy month (some reports showing we received 92 inches in our area). Marian had to clear the driveway most every day, and I could only watch from the warm wings...through the front door. Some days, she would be out there for more than two hours.

Another Bad Idea

So, what did I do? Well, on February 1, I decided to have a can of clam chowder for lunch. Guess what? I have discovered a newly acquired shellfish (well, clams and calamari anyway)! An ambulance was called to take me to Aspirus Keweenaw hospital (because I could not walk), where I remained until released on February 3. As much as I like clam chowder, it is NOT worth that much pain.

While in hospital, they conducted an overnight oximetry test -- determining the oxygen level in my bloodstream while I sleep. No evidence of sleep apnea or a drop in my O2 levels was found.

Trip Cancelled

Our back door...adrift...
Marian and I were scheduled to leave for Rochester, MN on Tuesday, February 19th, for two days of biopsies, scans, blood tests, and more at Mayo Clinic. We didn't make it. We didn't try to leave. We were not driving 400 miles in blizzard conditions. Even if we had somehow managed to make it to Rochester in our 10-year-old Focus, we were scheduled to drive back on Friday, February 22nd -- when another blizzard rocked Minnesota and Wisconsin...all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We made the right choice.


The reason for our preempted trip? The second anniversary of my brother's gift, the gift of life, my blood and marrow stem cell transplant on February 21, 2011. We celebrated quietly at home...thankful for two additional years of life. On May 26th, I will reach the third anniversary of my diagnosis with Philadelphia chromosome positive, chronic myelogenous leukemia. God's grace has surely been shining on me!

I still have blood tests every two weeks, and the results have continued to either improve or remain positive. While in hospital the last time, my white count and my absolute neutrophil count both spiked. It appears my immune system may have responded to the crisis.

We will attempt our trip again, this time immediately after Easter, on April 2nd. I have high hopes that the tests will show improvement.

Mostly a Hermit

Our deck, buried.
For now, I venture out, but only for short periods and under rather controlled circumstances. I avoid large gatherings, groups of children, and shaking hands. I haven't seen a movie in a theater in quite some time. I go to the hospital for tests, but very early, before there are crowds, and always have my case anyone sneezes or coughs. I have gone out to get medications and items I must obtain, but rarely and at odd hours, if possible. Finally, I do drive, but only when I am relatively certain I won't get stuck, because I could not shovel myself out of a snowbank or master enough oxygen to walk any distance for help.

I have not been walking outside because of the very cold air in February...cold air asthma is a painful reality for someone with only 26% lung capacity left.

However, life is good. I thank God every night for the giving me the day, and I ask for the gift of tomorrow. I wake each morning with gratitude in my heart for the great gift of one more day. I have discovered the precious present, and I am grateful for it. I am at peace with uncertainty, though I remain at bit paranoid by preference.

As the weather warms and improves, I hope to spend more time outside, walking when the roads and even some sidewalks reappear.

Thanks to everyone praying for us and sending us good thoughts and positive energy. God bless, and good night,