It’s hard to believe it’s been close to two years since I last updated this site. But to steal a line from an old country song, : “The moral of the story, it’s simple but it’s true … The stars might lie, but the numbers never do.”
The song is titled “I Feel Lucky,” and indeed I do. It just depends on what day of the week, however, whether that luck is good or bad.
My absence has primarily been related to health issues. Loyal readers from the past probably remember I had a kidney transplant on June 28, 2016. Things were going great for several months after that as I regained my strength and got used to the new drug regimen.
That all came crashing down in March 2017. I spent 16 days in the hospital with a serious infection around the new kidney that required three drain tubes to get the junk out. The discharge procedures weren’t much fun, either – a week in a rehab center followed by six weeks of home antibiotics where I had to get up every four hours to administer a new bag.
As bad as that may seem, it may have saved my life. Because I had been doing so well, the protocol for monitoring my blood levels got stretched out beyond once a month pretty quickly. After this hospitalization, my team at the UNM transplant clinic decided to monitor my situation more closely.
As a result, when some suspicious numbers came back in July, 2017, my doctor decided it was a good idea to do a biopsy of the new kidney. And they found cancer.
Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 is a date I’ll never forget. I’m probably the last of the generation who grew up thinking the c-word was a death sentence. This is where the early detection came in.
It turns out my cancer never formed as a growth or tumor – there were just some nasty cells floating around in my kidney. An the cause was one of the many medications that go with a transplant.
My doctor had seen this before and knew what to do, switching me to a milder transplant drug immediately. And as a good luck piece, she happens to be friends with a doctor at the UNM Cancer Center, so I got into see a specialist relatively quickly.
The best way I can describe the first PET scan is that it looked like an aerial map and about half of my kidney was cloudy. Two months later it was about 25 percent cloudy. By Valentine’s Day this year it was gone.
Some of the post-transplant drugs serve the purpose of suppressing your immune system. After all, the body doesn’t know quite how to react when a new organ is suddenly inserted. However, that means I’m more prone to infections, and that has been a continuing obstacle.
And being diabetic doesn’t help, especially when the numbness in extremities means you may not notice a cut or wound. This year it was foot ulcers, which I’ve been receiving treatment for more than five months, in a cast for the past four and in a wheelchair for the last two. The doctors still want me to stay off my feet as much as possible and use the chair, but we’re close to being completely healed.
A side note: It’s pathetic the way our world is set up for those with disabilities. You never notice it until you’re the one stuck in a wheelchair. Parking and doors are the two biggest hassles.
Side note 2: The federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act in on July 26, 1990. You would think that 28 years would be enough time for some federal facilities, like the (Rio Rancho) post office, to install an automatic door.
Oh, I forgot – the feds just make the law but they don’t have to follow it.
Those are just the highlights – or lowlights, as it were. I don’t mean to cry “woe is me” because there are many, many people who have it a lot worse off than I do. I didn’t mean to bore you, just let you know I’m back, albeit on a much more sensible schedule than I was trying to keep before.
To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, “I’m o.k. now, but the last 18 months or so I was in rough shape.”
You will probably notice some changes, both in the design of this site and in content as well. Please bear with me as we continue to update and correct things. Your feedback, as always, is appreciated – as were the many good thoughts and prayers during my recent trials.
It’s good to be back doing what I was trained and love to do. I hope you will continue with me on this ride by reading.