Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everybody!

I hope that this holiday brings you everything you could want. May the weather treat you right and the food be bountiful.
I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. I make cookies for people and that helps a lot, especially if I play something 'holidayish' in the background as I bake. So far i've made Meringue cookies, Oatmeal Raisin cookies and Sugar cookies. Tomorrow I plan on making a bunch more meringues and try to master them. Plus I to make some coffee flavored ones.
I think the reason I'm having a hard time going all Christmas is all of my longing for the end of the year; As you all know, this year has not been very kind to me. Each month has brought a new challenge, some more frightening than others. All I can do is countdown until the new year begins and things can really crank out new. Still, I fear for the return of cancer, not that there's been ANY sign of that, but little things that I think were markers as I look back on the year before I was diagnosed make me paranoid and a little bit worried. Then I have lowering hemoglobin counts and have to hope that the full-on white blood cells aren't in full-on attack mode and wiping out my oxygen-carrying cells. This trait could be a bad sign, one leading to "transfusion dependency" or something like that. Whatever it's called I don't want any part of it, as the transfusion process is not what you would call a useful way to spend time.
Speaking of transfusion, while I was in the hospital last month, my condition had gotten so bad the call was sent out to my sister Jeanne for another round of stem cells for a transfusion to help me out of my bad blood battle. She complied and the stem cells are now sitting at UCMC waiting for my next health failure. Optimistic thought process, isn't it? Well, as you know by now, my body did battle and kicked pneumonia's ass and the doctors have no idea what happened or why. So all I'm asking for Christmas is to remain healthy and stay out of SeƱor Transfusion's way. A transfusion sticks me in the hospital for 21 days at a minimum and I'd rather not think about that option, as last month was nearly completed in a room where everyone who came in had to wear a mask. If I can avoid that mess and cruise though a couple of months with not too many challenges, I will be a very happy man. A few of you may know, I'm a lot easier to deal with when I'm happy. Right now, just waking up makes me happy. Hell, I got happy when I cleaned the snow off of my car the other day. Of course, I didn't clean any snow off of my car all of last winter, so I was due.

Worried, I may be, but my spirits remain high, as evidenced by this photo:

Now, does anybody want a meringue cookie? I'll be starting them in the morning.
Right after breakfast.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not quite back to September standing, but...

I saw my attending physician yesterday, apparently I've taken a whole new step in my health care: I completely ignored the "take One a day" and moved it on down to zero, in regards to this steroid I was on. This steroid was to help my blood from fighting amongst itself, in the classic Lewis Carroll version of Red versus White. Well, after reading the written instructions day after day while the dose decreased, I got to one a day, took one one day and then just stopped. After testing me, the doc said, okay, don't take anymore. Perhaps I can be in the guessing game, too.
Most of you are probably wondering how I'm feeling. To tell you the truth, this week and most of last, I don't feel sick at all. I've no longer got the pneumonia, my strength is coming back, some through workout, some through increased red cell (and hemogloblin) counts, I'm free to eat anything I choose, and do. I've got mobility in the form of car, I've got time to shop in odd hours so I miss the sick people, and I even managed to get myself two pairs of glasses after wearing a busted up pair for a year.
And what a year it was! I do believe this has been the longest year I ever lived. It started so well, I was in love, fat and happy from New Year's Eve, just floating along, then, "wham"! I'm in the hospital and I've got issues and as listed on my hospital chart "problems". What a list of problems that is! If you'd like to talk about permanent records, the hospital's got mine listed and ready for viewing. It's an impressive list that I hope none of you achieve.
Perhaps next year I will be afforded the opportunity to return to work. Maybe a travel to L.A, or even Hawaii. I do know that next year will cost me more than this past year, due to some insurance changes, darnit. Just as long as I stay out of "Lifetime Limits" and "Out-of-Network, Out-of-Pocket" areas, I ought to manage. Still, there are ghosts of plans for fund-raisers to help me with the ever mounting bills and for those planning, I thank you. I'd like to plan a golf fund-raiser, but I'm afraid we'd drink the profits right out of that one. We shall see what 2011 brings us, I'm hoping for health most of all and a hospital-free year. The odds are stacked against me, for I've still got the immune system of a baby, as I just received my second pneumonia shot yesterday, next immunization shot in two months. The odds are stacked because I live in a city where a sniffle is ever present and public transportation is a crowded and dirty affair. The odds are stacked because my lungs are susceptible to infection and I've got the golden ticket for pneumonia. I don't want this ticket, but somehow I won it and it is non-transferable. Plus, no one seems to wish to buy it off of me. Another darnit.
If anybody has any free time over Christmas break, I would welcome your company for a puzzle, a card game (cribbage, anyone?) or playing of video games. Or anything else! I'm free to travel to lightly populated places and hope that my attitude might lighten up enough to have some fun with ya. Of course, now, the museum or other places of high children content would be out of the picture.
Looking forward to next year, aren't you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm not imagining things. Yet.

So I have been home for a little more than a week. Last Wednesday found me spending all day in the hospital, back in 5NE, only this time I was waiting for blood to be given to me. If you have been keeping track, these were pints 9 and 10 for the month. Which is all the blood a body can store, 8 to 10 pints. Since I've received so much blood, there was an extra step the technicians had to take (and from now on) which is to match anti-bodies in the blood and not just type. Total time waster. And on Wednesday, I was 1.) unprepared for the blood transfusion, 2.) Unaware of the extra typing that had to be done for me to receive blood and 3.) mad as hell that it took more than 9 hours to get me my blood. Add to that the four hours it takes to transfuse the blood, and I get home at midnight. Mind you, I'm still tired from my release less than 48 hours earlier after spending 19 days in a very small room. My mood on Thanksgiving was less than stellar. The food that my good friend had cooked up was uplifting, as was the testosterone filled movie. So there was that.
All this blood reception business was to insure that I remained healthy over the long weekend, so I could remain out of the emergency room and another stay at UCMC. Today I roll in for check up (on the 1st of December, hello snow!) and find that my white cells have been attacking all the red blood cells, not recognizing them as their own, rather, seeing the red blood cells as invaders and removing them. Only this is bad internally, but treatable, I'm told. This news makes me feel better because I was starting to stress about how much stairs affected me and stole my wind. Medium to long walks were wiping me out, too, but I was attributing this symptom to the pneumonia, which I am still kicking ass on. The good doctor also explained that my heart and lungs are working in fine form because I am able to get around even through this lack of red blood cells.
I just thought I was looking really pale because I haven't been outside in a couple of months, first from the cold, then from the stay in isolation, multiplied by my white heritage of Irish and Polish and whatever. No, Turns out I'm pale as paper due to lack of red blood cells. Which, HEY! Surprise!, I am receiving more of tomorrow. Hopefully without to much of a wait. I will be getting someone else to give me ride, because the treatment I've been put on starting today, is a little pill that will make me go crazy. (crazier?) A steroid called Prednisone, if you want to look it up. Combine that with the rest of my meds, and I will be seeing things and getting goofy with my moods. I've already got tripped out dreams from one of my meds, this will only amplify and release the weirdness into the daytime hours. A good thing though, is this drug will increase my appetite, which has been horrifically on the negative side. Maybe I will imagine something tasty wandering through my living room. Look out, dog!