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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day +127 Reds Normal, Blessings Rule

The ones that started all the trouble for me, my Red Blood Cells, are back to normal levels!

A recap.
Normal Hemoglobin is 14 to 18 g/Dl. Jan 26, 2006 I was feeling very weak, went to see my doctor, and learned I had a reading of 6.1 g/Dl. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body, so I was constantly out of breath. Stem cells in my bone marrow were honked up, and were quickly forgetting how to make red blood cells. Turns out my white blood cells and platelets were low too. I was given a 50% chance of surviving 4 years. The only possible cure was this thing called a stem cell transplant, which itself offers only 50:50 odds of surviving just to the first year. Well, 28 months, a wonderful stem cell donor, and a stem cell transplant later, my Hemoglobin level was measured today at 14.2 g/Dl.

Cathie attended today's appointment with Dr. Andrey. Needless to say we were both elated at the blood test results. Doctor Andrey was in a jovial mood again, cheerful, optimistic. Up until last April I thought he was a serious, no nonsense doctor, all business kind of guy. Now I have to wonder whether his demeanor during that time was closely tied to my prognosis. When I reached the day +100 milestone in april, Dr. Andrey turned a corner along with my prognosis. In words in went from 'Not Good' to 'Favorable'. My 50:50 odds of surviving the first year are probably closer to 85:10 and after that I get about a 90% chance of living to a normal life expectancy. My Achilles heal will be my higher-than-normal risk of contracting opportunistic infections.

Well, this blog has been difficult at times cuz I normally do not like talking about myself. Writing about myself is only marginally easier. While writing I can convince myself that no one reads it anyway. However, my health is the topic of this blog so I figure I'm just staying on topic. I know I've strayed off-topic a little bit at times. That was done for the sake of my 'mental' health. It could have been worse, far worse. I could have opined about any number of controversial subjects. Going that far off topic would not have been cool.

As you can imagine, this has been an extremely emotional time for my family. I know I'm not the first to get a disease like this and I wont be the last. I've learned something about how to hold myself during this time from some of you who have given us so much support over the last months. I personally know 4 families just on our street who have had life threatening cancers. One woman, at least 10 years younger than me, had breast cancer a few years ago, and now has Leukemia. When you get the Leukemia diagnosis you dont have two years to figure out what to do, you have weeks. I had 2 years to live with my Myelodysplasia, plenty of time to plan, financially and emotionally. I was lucky. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball but then the next pitch is a fastball right up the middle that you can handle. Mmmm. It is baseball season so I was allowed that. I just want to acknowledge that, while I was unlucky to get a bone marrow disease, I have to be thankful that it was the indolent type. That is, it was pain free and slow acting. I had time to react, to adjust. Blessings in life are all over and can be found. I dont think it's naive to recognize them. And I dont think it's wise to belittle them.

Thank you to everyone who has registered with the NMDP and/or surfs the web using with the National Marrow Donor Program as their selected charity. And thanx again for all your wonderful support for my family over the last few months! You are making me a better man.


SoftwareEngineer said...

This is great news. All your blood counts are up! Fantastic. Thanks for sharing this journey with us.
God Bless you,
William Chadwick

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT NEWS!!!! Jim thank you so much for keeping us all in the loop this whole time. I know it must have been hard but you were great! We LOVE you and cant wait to see you soon!
Shelli, Derek, Parker
PS I sent back my donor packet last week!

Pat H said...


Hurray for normal red blood cell counts !!!! We are so happy for you and your family. Bet it feels amazing to be known as "normal".
Can't wait to see you in July. Hope the next 2 months continue
to be very kind. Thanks so much for all the continuous updates.

Pat & Dave

Pallavi said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Thank you for bringing us along on your journey. Your's and your family's journey is an inspiration.

I should be receiving my donor packet in the next few days!

All the best,

Duane said...

Excellent, excellent news, Jim! You're an inspiration. It's wonderful seeing how your blog has developed from its first days and that you're sharing the word about the NMDP's efforts.

Stay well, friend.