Reflections on Three Years

I posted this over at Plumb Mad Dog Mean, but I wanted everyone to know –

Three years ago, I received a bone marrow transplant, to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and so far, it has worked.

Two weeks ago I had some testing done, and we finally met with the staff at Northside Hospital yesterday, and I am happy to report, I am still in remission! In fact, the doctor has now effectively released me over to the care of my personal physician, with the understanding that I visit him at least twice a year, for a full CBC and check up.

We then went over what I can expect going forward. Not much to be concerned about, except for an increased chance of other cancers, thanks to the chemo. Now, I will tell you, I have not researched this, nor do I plan to. What happens, happens. Plus, that’s what the extra testing is for, to look for early indicators that things are amiss.

I am planning a post shortly on my experiences in the past 3 years, over on the Plumb Mad Dog Mean site. I encourage you to go sign up there, or follow me on Twitter, as I think you will find it interesting to say the least.

Moving Along

Starting point

Now, I know that’s the kind of title I might use if I were announcing I was closing down my blog.

On the contrary. I mean quite the opposite.

Those who follow me here, or on Twitter or on Facebook or my other blog, Plumb Mad Dog Mean, know that since last March I have been fighting leukemia. Between that and keeping life going, it’s about all I have had time or energy for.

The last USPSA match I shot was on February 27, 2016. I looked at this match as the last one I would shoot before qualifying for Senior in March. I was right, but it was also the last match I would shoot before being diagnosed with leukemia on March 15.

I must confess, thanks to a suppressed immune system, and not really feeling like going to the range, I haven’t fired a gun since that match. But all of that is going to change.

I have come to realize, the hard way, that life is short. There are things I enjoy in life, and I owe it to myself to devote some time and energy to those, and to enjoy them to their fullest.

So, I have put together a set of goals that I want to reach, before the anniversary of my transplant on June 28:

  1. Post to this blog at least once a week, preferably more.
  2. Post to Twitter and Facebook at least daily.
  3. Devote time each day in my office dry firing. (This is one advantage of working from home!)
  4. Work on my physical strength and endurance so I can compete decently. After all, I have lost quite a bit of weight, and I need to take advantage of that, and regain my strength. I may even try to find a coach or other training so I can get my stamina back.
  5. Start competing regularly in USPSA and GSSF.
  6. Move up from D class to C class in USPSA Production.
  7. Look into other aspects of shooting sports to see if I want to give them a try:
    • Reloading
    • Open shooting
    • 3-gun
    • Sporting clays
  8. Attend the NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
  9. Be more involved in GeorgiaCarry.
  10. Renew my Glock Armorer certification.

So, look for more posts. The ones involving these goals will be tagged Moving Along.

Take What I Can Get

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One of the side effects of my leukemia treatment is that I have lost about 30 pounds, and about 4 inches on my waist. As a result, I can actually carry a pistol in a shoulder holster without having to do some kind of sick judo move on myself just to get to it.

Now, if I decide to, I can carry my father-in-law’s old Beretta. Nice.

Who knows what’s next.

Introducting my New Blog: Plumb Mad Dog Mean

I have been collecting my thoughts about my battle with leukemia, and I have started a new blog as a place to record and share them.

In keeping with my penchant for naming blogs after lines in Western movies, I present:

Plumb Mad Dog Mean.

’cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.

 

 

Join me there.

Going Jordan

TrumpPicardJordan 2

Pardon the sidetrack . . .

Some time back, I was leaving my home, and some rain dripped off the roof, straight on to my bald spot. I decided then that I had to make a life decision.

In my mind, there are three stages of dealing with hair loss, without resorting to transplants or Rogaine. I name the three stages after the most prominent people who elected them.

Trump:

Here you act like nothing is different, and cover it up. Also known as the Comb Over.

Picard:

Here you admit that your coverage isn’t what it used to be, but you still want something there. So you trim it down and own up to it.

Jordan:

Here you say, what the hell, and shave it all off.

So, about 5 years ago I went Picard and started getting a 3/8 inch buzz cut all over.

Me as Picard

But then came the Recent Unpleasantness and the threat of losing it all, and I decided to go Jordan.

Me New

Another milestone.

Leukemia Update – Day 67

Leukemia RibbonIt’s been over a month since I wrote about my bout with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, so I wanted to give an update.

After discovering that my blood count numbers were out the bottom, at my annual physical in February, I went through more testing, including a bone marrow biopsy. Then on the morning of March 15, I got The Call. My doctor explained that the tests were clear, and I had AML. So I reported to the leukemia center at Northside Hospital, and began treatment.

After a lot of testing, I went through an intense round of chemotherapy, and about 4 weeks in the hospital, before my immune system had rebounded from the chemo enough that I could go home. Even then, I visited the leukemia clinic at Northside every day or every other day.

My 2 most recent bone marrow biopsies show no cancer cells, so I am officially in remission. But history has shown that my kind of leukemia always comes back, maybe a year, maybe 3 years, maybe 10, but always.

So I have started more treatments to keep it away. First was another round of chemo, which was actually done at the clinic, and at home. I’m coming back from it now, and I feel great.

Next is a bone marrow transplant, scheduled for June 16. I am blessed by God to have found an almost perfect match. Now, on my end the transplant will be just another IV infusion. For the donor, he will be put under, in the operating room, and the doctors will go after his hip bones with a big drill.

Then, when I get his marrow, it will replace mine completely, since we also plan to do another chemo treatment on me, leaving no marrow at all. Then his marrow implants in my bones, and when it comes back, I have cancer free marrow, and I’m done.

Except . . .

Think about it – I now have a new immune system, which likely sees my organs as a foreign body, and could attack it. This is called graft versus host disease, or GVHD, and is the number one thing I will have to take care of, for the rest of my life. With a good match like mine, serious GVHD is unlikely statistically, but even minor GVHD like skin, requires treatment.

But all that beats dying from leukemia, so I’m up for it.

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All during this, my family and friends have been so supportive, and the medical staff could not be more professional and thorough. Add to that my faith – letting God lead with me following – and I am prepared to do what I have to do.

Making the Best of It

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So, 19 days after starting my second round of chemotherapy for leukemia, my blood test results pretty much show I have started to bottom out. My ANC was 0.1, which is as low as they show on the test.

So I’m now confined to home, except for clinic visits every other day. Today to pass time, I commenced to checking off a To-do box, and started watching The Pacific.

Meanwhile I cleaned my pistols, and made an embarrassing discovery: the pistol I carry almost every day, Liberty, my G19, had collected an unsightly amount of dust, mostly around the magwell, but also up under the slide, around the firing pin safety and connector. It didn’t take a lot to clean it, but I really don’t know how it might have affected the operation if I had needed to use it.

So now I am going to set a goal to inspect and clean Liberty every Friday or Saturday.

In the meantime, dry fire and study are my assignment. I can’t shoot until I get the IV line removed from my arm, so that’s what I’m left with. But I’ll take it, because like my chemo, it should lead to better things down the road.