Friday, May 25, 2018

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +2650

Bronze Age Redux

     It was Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at about 9:00 AM, when I received a call at my workstation. I was working on a project for the Keweenaw National Historical Park under one of those federal programs that train seniors for jobs that don’t really exist. A few hours earlier, I’d stopped by Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital for a serious blood test, to determine if I had type II diabetes. The symptoms were all there...had been since January...and the fatigue was overwhelming.
     I was worried. When blood began to appear in my eyes and distorted my vision, it seemed prudent to get a diagnosis and deal with it. So, it was with trepidation I accepted the call.
     The nurse practitioner told me to get my butt over to the hospital immediately. They had an ambulance waiting for me...I had leukemia. Thus began my now eight-year journey.
     Tomorrow is the Bronze Anniversary of my diagnosis and marks eight years surviving Philadelphia chromosome positive, chronic myeloid leukemia. I have entered my Bronze Age.

Betwixt and Between

     As I enter my bronze age, I leave my stoned age behind. I am taking no regular pain killers now, and fewer drugs that leave me dizzy or wobbly. I begin the long wait for my iron age, when once again I will have the strength to lift and wield a cast iron frying pan. However, despite the Sumerians, Gilgamesh, and the Amorite Code of Hammurabi, I find it most ironic to have my bronze age in the Copper Country.
    All really bad jokes aside, I am pleased to note in passing that tomorrow I will be an eight-year cancer survivor. I shall celebrate with a cup of Earl Grey and a toasted English muffin with homemade blueberry jam.
    The above commentary came about as I was pondering the Code of Hammurabi, known for its harsh punishments, wherein literally an-eye-for-an-eye edicts appear, that are literally carved in stone -- a four-ton stele of diorite. However, the code incorporates, for one of the very first times, the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. It’s a precept often abandoned by our own court of social media.

One Final Thought

    Although the age will be bronze, alas, I will remain pale as fresh milk. Like the vampires of old, I cannot long tolerate the touch of old Sol and must remain in the shadows, or bring my own shadows with me.
    I am thankful for all who sent thoughts and prayers. Your thoughts reassured me and your prayers convinced God to let me go on complaining and kvetching. Thank you.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mick McKellar Update -- Day +2640

Tangle Trap

   I had a dream last night. Marian and I had gone to Marquette for my appointment at the hospital with a pulmonologist. He would be reading my pulmonary function studies as the tests are done to track the progression of my bronchiolitis obliterans, i.e., GvHD of the lungs.
    As we were leaving the waiting room, we had a chat with a young couple from Houghton. She was pregnant and having some difficulty breathing, but it wasn't serious. What was serious, was the condition of their car, apparently the victim of a runaway end-loader that nearly totaled their Cooper Mini. They badly needed a ride to Houghton, so we offered a lift home. Marian would wait with them, and I would toddle off to get our car and bring it around.
    My steps were not particularly buoyant, because my visit with Dr. Saari had not gone as planned. There were indications that my left lung was failing and recommendations were sent to my primary doctor that I should have a full panel of X-rays and maybe a CT Scan. I was focused on this news as I rode the elevator to the ground floor of the hospital. I stepped off the elevator, directly into a construction area -- what appeared to be a warehouse or steel-framed space, filled with end-loaders, welders, workmen in hard hats and overalls, and girders being lifted by what appeared to be a steam crane. My ears must have popped, because the sound was muffled and distant, as though I had cotton stuffed in my ears.
    I saw men in double-breasted suits and fedoras talking by a wooden stairway to a suspended office space, and headed in that direction. I turned around to place the elevator door in my memory, but it was gone, replaced by a large hole, partially filled with a huge form being filled with concrete...a footing?
    When I looked back, the men in fedoras were gone, but I could see shadows of people moving in the office. So, I toddled over and slowly climbed the stairs. I knocked on the door with a frosted glass window. When no one answered, I opened the door and walked in. Men in fedoras were standing around a desk, occupied by a young man in a plain wool suit, typing on an old Olivetti upright typewriter.
    I closed the door and turned around again...and was standing in a 19th century bedroom or hotel room, complete with pitcher and basin on a stand, floral wallpaper (which looked different every time I noticed it) and a four-poster bed with nightstand and oil lamp. Fog or mist blanked windows framed in heavy brocade curtains. Flickering light was provided by wall sconces -- gaslights by the look of them.
    Already occupying the room were two women and a baby. The women wore period traveling clothes and seemed in a rush to pack and leave. One portmanteau was open and a few items were on the bed. The baby was in a dresser drawer filled with towels and never moved that I could see. One woman was older -- perhaps 50 years old or so, with mostly gray hair. The other woman was ancient -- shriveled and stooped, white hair billowing about her wizened face. They ran back and forth to the baby and to the bed, talking a stream of nonsense in what I surmised was some form of German. At least it sound like German. I could not be certain, because the sound of their voices seemed to be coming from a great distance. Point in fact, they seemed a tad transparent and took no notice of me.
    I spoke to them and received not even a flicker of recognition. I tried to touch the younger woman, but my fingers slid off as though a shield interfered. I could not interact with them, so I decided to leave.
    When I turned around and reached for the door, I was surprised to be staring at a large dresser, a highboy with many drawers. A quick search showed a door in the opposite corner of the room, so I quickly walked over, grabbed the knob and pulled.
    On the other side of the door was another door which opened the other way. I opened that door and found a third door. The tenth door was locked. It seemed to be made of black oak and had a huge brass door lock. No amount of pounding, kicking, and shouldering had any effect whatsoever. It was immovable.
    I needed to reassess my situation, so I closed the ninth door and reached for the eighth. In doing so, I nearly stepped off the stairway to the office, almost falling to the floor ten feet below. I was out of the room!
    Looking about me, I discovered the construction site gone and I stood in a garage, facing the doors to the elevator. In the polished reflection of the elevator doors, I could just make out my reflection. Indistinct and wavy, I haunted the surface. But, my eyes were clearly reflected and my irises were black as midnight and gave me the shivers. I started screaming.
    Police were called, and I was transported home, refusing to go back into the hospital. Six months had passed since I toddled off to get the car. A whole lot of searching had been done and no trace was found until I appeared in front of the elevator doors. My story was met with blank stares and smothered sniggers. I felt wretched and misunderstood.
Anger burned me from the inside and I shrieked...
    I woke up from my dream, shaken and cold. Upon standing next to my bed, I looked into the bedroom mirror and my eyes looked weird. My soft brown eyes were hard black. I quickly looked away and back again. My old eyes stared back at me.
    Sometimes, dreams can feel too real.