Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time to resurrect the blog again. It’s been a little while I guess. A lot has been going on since last September. Can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve put in an update. I don’t think I could even detail all that has happened, so I’ll just boil it down to the basics. Cancer came back in my brain and spine, lots of chemo, tried really hard to die around Christmas (or so everyone tells me, I don’t really remember), had a bone marrow transplant, and now I’m all clear. Again. I wish it was that simple, but you get the idea.

One of the side effects of the transplant was serious nerve damage to my spine. It has left me with a limp and 2 numb feet which makes it very difficult to get around. Not to mention the 3+ months I spent in the hospital which seriously diminished my cardiovascular fitness level. I went from running marathons last summer to barely being able to get to the bathroom in February. That was difficult for me as being in shape has been a big part of my life for years. For those of you not familiar, this is how a bone marrow transplant works. First, they wipe out your immune system. Next, you get a round of immune “boosters” which cause you to produce stem cells. Those cells are harvested through a large bore catheter inserted in your chest. Takes about 3 days. Then, once you’ve recovered from that (or had sepsis, heart failure, and every other bad thing imaginable), they give you the nuclear blast of chemo. I’m talking almost as much chemo in one dose as I had had in the 11 previous rounds combined. Last, you are given back those stem cells which can then develop into a new immune system for you. It does come back, but it’s slow. You spend a lot of time in the hospital or on the couch being protected from the outside world. It’s boring. And I didn’t do jack the whole time.

Another “side effect” is losing my career in the Navy. I’m too broken for them I guess. I’m fairly tweaked about it, but we will figure something out. As a result, we will probably have to relocate back to Florida. I am sure going to miss the weather here in SoCal. The length of the process (medical board process) has allowed me to get healthier and stronger. My immune system is almost back to 100%. And with the exception of a scare back in April when we thought I might have leukemia, my recovery has been fairly uneventful. We have tried to go about life as normal, but there is a lot of uncertainty about everything. Where will I work? Where will I get medical care? Where will we live? Etc. I’m sure these are questions you guys deal with every day, but a lot of it is new for us. The Navy has given us security for quite a while now. Losing that is scary.

I’ve learned quite a bit as a result of this experience. Most importantly, never take a day for granted. I know it’s cliche, but I had a 3 month break from cancer last summer and I treated it like it was no big deal. It was a huge deal. You never know when that demon will start creeping back into the light. It is so insidious. I’ve also crossed a bunch off my bucket list, although it gets longer by the day. I’d like to say I’m no longer an asshole at times, or that I don’t act like a jerk when someone cuts me off, or I don’t get cranky when I don’t get my way, but I guess there will always be things to work on. I mean, it didn’t turn me into a buddhist monk or anything.

Well, I’ll close this out for now. Thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. We definitely appreciate it. Please keep Ken Pace (who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant for myeloma right now) and all of the people battling this monster everyday in your thoughts and prayers as well. And enjoy your day. It’s a blessing.

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