Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +897

Dante joined our household this summer.
Wow! Friday, August 9, 2013, will be day 900 since my blood and marrow stem cell transplant! I still cannot fathom how lucky and blessed I am to have made it this far, despite a few missteps and a couple of "Duh!" moments (like eating clam chowder a few months ago...). I'll admit the road is rough in patches, more potholes than pavement, with chasms yawning to each side and a precarious footpath to follow. Yet, I am happy to continue my journey of discovery.

We're Baaaack!

Marian and I journeyed to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN on Sunday, so I could spend all day yesterday (yeah, we rose at 5:00 AM to walk to the clinic) for blood tests and pulmonary studies. I had both an oxygen titration test (on a treadmill) and the usual pulmonary function tests. I met with a lung specialist and my BMT doctor. Apparently, I am doing exceptionally well, because once again there has been no decrease in lung function. I have been holding at my present values (with minor fluctuations) since this problem (bronchiolitis obliterans) took away most of my lung capacity. I still have between 25 and 27% capacity. To give you some idea of the loss, when I first arrived at Mayo Clinic (in 2010), my lung capacity was about 3.0 liters (fairly normal for an overweight 60-year-old). Beginning approximately February of 2012, my capacity has been between .9 and 1.0 liters.

So what's the problem?

Well, it seems any nastiness in my lungs -- irritations, viruses, infections, etc. -- can trigger reactions that tend to invite investigation and response from my renegade T-cells, and could cause further devastation and loss of lung function. Many of the medications I take (and a new one I will be starting) help to prevent the reactions that draw interest and allow those renegades to look elsewhere for opportunities to create havoc or just chill indefinitely.

Rapid Response Kit

The lung specialist also prescribed some medications for me to keep handy as a rapid response kit. Basically, we're talking a powerful antibiotic and prednisone. It is a simple idea...if I get a sniffle or think I might have picked up a bug, I take the pills immediately...THEN I call the doctor. Any sneaky germ or viral visitor that might give you a sniffle and a sneeze and dim your lights...well, let's just say it could put out my lights for good. If I didn't need the medications, well there is no real harm done (other than the side effects) and we taper off and stop the meds once again. Sounds like a plan to me.

With two grandsons, who just
left the area. Gonna miss them.
Looking Forward

I still take each day as it comes, each one a gift and and a joy. Yet, I cannot help looking forward to visiting with my grandchildren and children I haven't seen for quite some time. It seems that, maybe, I will have the chance to do that.

A Good Trip

Our trip was relatively uneventful. There were multitudes of deer scampering across the rural highways we drove -- especially on both M-26 in the UP, and US 63 in northern Wisconsin. Our car, a recent reverse legacy from our son, Andrew, performed perfectly. That 2009 Ford Focus achieved 40.5 MPG on the trip to Rochester and nearly 39 MPG on the return leg.

Marian drove about half the trip down and I drove the entire trip home. I think I was energized by the test results and the good news about no further deterioration. We are home safely and appreciate all the good will, good wishes, and great prayers that spirited us on our way.

Thanks to you all, God bless and good night!