Thursday, July 2, 2015

Roller Coaster Ride

A transplant is a lot like a roller coaster ride. Lots of ups and downs. Today had both. A night of swallowing the prep liquid for a colonoscopy was brutal. The scope showed nothing but Carol and I may have made a discovery, all my vomiting appears to have occurred after having a milk product. We need to eliminate milk and see if the v and d disappear .    

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Feeling better

It has been 25 days since my transplant. The roughest 25 days of my life. I am glad that I cannot remember day 0 - 10. It was too brutal. My mouth was so bloody and sore I could barely swallow. I had two angels watching over me Maddie and Monica. Without their devoted care I do not know how I would have made it. Carol was taxed out. The severity of this transplants was well beyond the first. Compare a hand grenade to "Little Big Man."

The staff have been fantastic. It is a dirty job they have and must be tough watching so many people in pain. Somehow they do not lose their empathy.

I am trying to each and drink but not too thrilled by either. I try to eat a little more each day to build strength. It is working slowly

God sent a priest to bring comfort and encouragement, Ft Luke is great.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Born Again

Reformed theologians do not believe in multiple rebirth experiences. Once we have been reborn we are reborn. Once we have been baptized, we do  not need to be rebaptized. Once we have been baptized by the Spirit we have been baptized by the Spirit. That is not to say that we cannot experience profound spiritual encounters that may be deeply emotional and spiritually convicting. However, I just experienced my third rebirth.

It was not a deeply moving spiritual experience, it was biological. My first rebirth came during a worship service in Northfield, OH. The second rebirth came in a hospital room at the University of WA. This third rebirth came on the 8th floor of the Karmanos Medical Center. My stem cells were transplanted into my body.  I would not have any WBC to fight infections or platelets to clot and to stop the bleeding of a wound. It is like a rebirth because without that transplant I would either die of an infection or the loss of blood from a wound.

The transplant is rather anti-climatic. Several nurses all stand around while on nurse takes a bag of stem cells, thaws it and hooks it to an IV. They used 4 bags and the transplant made me very cold. The cells are stored at -450F and thawed before they are injected into me but they still dropped my body temperature. I do not remember being as tired the first time as I was after this second transplant. I slept alot today but I still got in my walks. Sixteen laps is a mile and I have done 25 so far. The MDs recommend at least 16. The record is 1,600 laps. The guy my have been in his 30s and an avid jogger.

I am still reeling over the inept game plan that the  Cavs displayed in the fourth period and in overtime. Blatt just may be the first coached fired after taking a time to the Finals. I am a big supporter of him but whoever thought isolation basketball would win was badly mistaken.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


It is Sunday night and BMT -5 ( 5 days till bone marrow transplant ). I am very comfortable tonight. The past three days I have had a lower back ache. It would be at its worse in the morning when I try to get out of bed. A few days it was quite severe during the day. It finally ached so badly they gave me a muscle relaxant, ibuprofen, and oxy. I slept for a few minutes but woke with no pain. That was at 3:00 pm this afternoon.

The pain in the back interfered with my desire to write in this blog. Pain prevents me from concentrating.

Carol stayed with me the whole weekend. I do not know how I would have made it without her. That is how bad the pain was. It is very lonely with her gone.

The medical staff has been great. Everyone is so willing to help. The nurses will get me drinks, towels, and/or blankets. The assistants are all to eager to do the same. The only negative are these darn pumps. They seem to run out or fluids every five minutes. They are a bit self conscious about their comings and goings but I do not think they are excessive.

It is 10:00pm and I just finished my chemo for today. It was a two cycle process. One at 6:00am another at 8:00pm then repeat at 6:00pm and 8:00pm. I was given anti-nausea drugs at various times.

People ask me all the time, "How are you feeling?" The actual chemo does not zing me till at least three days after treatment.

Carol and I read from Is 6 today during a time of worship together. It is a rather famous chapter in which God reveals his glory to the prophet who is overcome with his own sinfulness. I am glad that the God I worship can overwhelm us. It gives me greater confidence during this difficult period of healing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Suprise Injection

I went to bed the night before my first harvest. I was tired from preaching and all the other things we did. I think that I did take a nap that afternoon. About 3:00 AM I got up to visit the bathroom. I also need to change my pajamas from sweating. I had put on too many covers. Shortly after returning to bed I felt a needle-like poke in my inner thigh. I go out of bed, went to the bathroom and examined my leg. I had been bite by something, wasp, hornet, bee, something.

I returned to bed and pulled off the covers looking for it. I was not going to have a repeat. I had to shake some covers but I finally found the critter--a yellow jacket. I crushed him and placed his dead carcass on the counter in the bathroom for Carol to see in the morning to prove I was not hallucinating. She slept through all of this.

The next I arrived at the clinic to have my stem cells harvested. My WBC was only 9.89 M they prefered 10 M because the harvest of stem cells is usually 10%. However, they harvested anyway. I then had to sit around till 7:00 pm to receive a shot of another drug to boast my WBC.

I found out the next day that they had harvested 1.45, an unusual amount for such my WBC. I asked if the body produces WBC after being stung my a yellow jacket. The MD in the unit did not know but he laughed at my story.

Carol and I are rushing around to get ready for my hospitalization. I will try to post another entry tomorrow, after all, I will be rather limited in my movement.

I cant wait till June 4, Go Cavs!!!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stem Cell Harvest

The past several days have been very challenging. My oncologist at Karmanos Medical Center has been trying to convince me to use a donor for my transplant. I had them send information to my sister to see if she was a match. They also searched the donor data base. Apparently, doctors have identified 8 markers in the stem cells that are required for a transplant. Seven is ok but 6 is very risky. Without a good match the patient usually suffers a graft-host disease that is potentially fatal.

I was adamant about my opposition to an allogeneic (stem cells coming from a donor) transplant. As a chaplain at Central WA Hospital I performed the funeral services for several patients who had an allogeneic transplant but none from a person who had an autologus (stem cells coming from the patient). They argued that since my immune system could not permanently keep this cancer at bay, maybe another would. Secondly, patients seem to fight the cancer better with an allogeneic transplant.  Also, my MD was not certain that they could harvest enough stem cells from me because of my age and having already had a stem cell transplant.

I countered that my immune system fought the cancer for 18 years. What if if only does it for 1/2 that, I will be 72. Yes, I would like to live into my 80s but 72 is not bad. I also believed that this tired old body could still produce the required stem cells with help from their white blood cell medication. But I did not tell him that. When I refused to agree he finally conceded.

Preparation for harvesting required self-administering 3 shots each morning for six mornings. I picked up the pre-filled needles on Friday--total cost, $7,600. Thank you Board of Pensions. I had to watch a video and have a nurse watch me inject myself. The needle was rather short and only went into the body fat of my belly. But rather than put all the medication into one needle, it came in three. So that meant 3 shots. Ouch.

The medication is called neupogen. I received it during the first transplant. One side effect is flu like symptoms in the bones. I had these the first time but felt fine this occurrence. However I was very grouchy. Pray especially for Carol, she has to listen to me.

I arrived at Karmanos Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM. They started with a blood test to determine if my WBC (White Blood Count) was high enough to harvest my stem cells. The WBC has to be over 10 million. This guarantees a harvest of 1 million. A successful harvest requires 2 million. My count was only 9.89 but they decided to try the harvest.

After the harvest I was given a shot of a drug that cost nearly $10,000 to boast my immune into overdrive so that the second day of harvesting would be more successful. Thank you Board of Pensions.

To learn about a surprise injection at 3:00 AM in the morning and the results of the harvest come back in a few days. I am tired and need to go to bed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


This is my stay away from people week. I am hoping to stay out of the hospital. Although I do not believe that people are the problem. One MD told me that the body has enough bacteria in it to manufacture a fever if the WBC is low enough. After all their tests 6 weeks ago, they still could not identify the virus(s) that put me in the hospital.

May is going to be a busy month. At least the chemo is over so my strength will be returning. I will have a series of neupogen shots to boost my stem cell production in hopes of harvesting enough for a transplant. I will have a catheter inserted into a vein for the chemo and transplant of the stem cells, and a protein test. All before the scheduled admission.

Karmanos and Catamaran really came through on getting my transplant approved quickly. They did it in less than 24 hours. Carol thinks that Catamaran has a note in my file to expedite my requests. I have had way too many problems with the drug company in the past but this time it was outstanding.
I hope this continues. I have a few bills that are very complicated to understand and require additional phone calls. I do not need any more.

I have been really tired today. This is unusual for the Tuesday after chemo. Normally I feel beat up as if I had just gone ten rounds with Floyd what's-his-name. Actually I doubt if I could survive one round. Tired is actually good. I have done some research on my sermon and made several phone calls but it is frustrating because I would like to do more.

The community garden is really far behind schedule. We do not even have the plots laid out. I was able to stake out the outline to half the area on Sunday and Monday but the rain and my physical condition prevented any work today. Someone volunteered to help on Thursday. Hopefully the two of us can get it done.