Cartoon and Illustration

Bela Lugosi I ain’t

Yesterday was my second transfusion.  Well, technically I believe it was my sixth, if you count each full unit of blood.  So the “first” transfusion was actually four, and this “second” was actually two.

I made a number of Bela Lugosi jokes through the process.  Morbid humor, yeah, well maybe.  But what else can one do?

The process is pretty easy all things considered, but I am looking forward to getting my body back to normal.

By normal I mean the following.  I’ve also got a cold.  Until yesterday I was not really able to fight the cold.  As soon as the transfusion was over my body actually began fighting it:  blowing my nose like it really counted for something, coughing properly, etc.  It’s rough when you have to come up in strength to fight off a cold.

I feel a lot better today.  I got up and had breakfast at a decent hour.  I made the choice to go back to bed because of the benadryl I took to help with the cold.  But it was a choice I made–it was not forced on me by utter exhaustion.  So progress was made.  I can stand up without the rushing of blood in my ears.  Crossed highway without feeling dizzy or faint.

I actually did some work today.  Not much.  Some minor corrections to some artwork for a client, but seeing as that the old ink pen hasn’t been used since late October I’m pleased that I was able to do even that.  Answered some emails and am writing this.

My eyes are much improved.  That alone is worth having to sit in the infusion chair for 9 hours yesterday.  (It shouldn’t have taken that long, but there were some complications along the way.  No biggies, but there were difficulties getting typed and cross-matched from the blood bank–better that they get such things right than have a poor match and have me suffer from a reaction).

Anyway, thought I’d let everyone know that things are going well.  I was pretty run down for a while there, but much better now.  My trip to Duke is in the offing and so all that should be settled soon–hopefully this second transfusion was the last one I’ll have to have.  Once they figure out a course of treatment to correct the source problem transfusions won’t be necessary for me any more.  As it is, my hematologist  has me scheduled for follow up visits to his offices through the end of January and then no more–so everything seems to be in order.  Spring is just around the corner.

Going to prepare for the New Year now.  My best wishes and prayers for you all regarding the same.



Cartoon and Illustration

Without giving away too much…

Feeling pretty good today.  I think it’s because I’ve been eating more red meat.

Yeah, I know that’s not politically correct to say, but when you’re suffering from acute anemia politics is not an issue now is it?

But seriously, the docs have now officially cleared me of all the big illnesses and simply want to figure out what picayune little nasty has my body acting up and not producing red-blood cells the way it’s supposed to.

So I’m going to Duke Medical Center in Durham, NC at the beginning of January.  Just a day-trip this time.  In and out.  Fill out some paperwork, lab-work, meet the doctor, then back home.  At least that’s what I understand from talking to my hematologist’s office today.  The official paperwork is supposed to be in the mail.

Christmas is NOT cancelled.  Neither is Cherokee Christmas Con.  I may not be able to hang out at the table all day, but as the table is paid for I’m planning to go ahead and set it up for freebies and promotions.  Maybe put out a commission sign up sheet and see how I do.

(It would be a real kick in the pants if I do better at a show that I’m not even at my table for, wouldn’t it?)

Anyway, again, thanks everyone who’s been praying for me.  It’s been really helpful just knowing you’re out there asking the Lord for His mercy on my behalf.  If you aren’t the praying sort, you know what?  I thank you for your concern and support too–I feel bad for you–but thanks.  I’m glad to have you as friends as well.

If you’re in Cherokee this weekend, come on by the show.  I may be at the table–may not.  Can’t say.  (If you have a kid who’s got a cold or runny nose I’m supposed to keep my distance.  Sorry.  Doctor’s orders.)

That’s about it.

Cartoon and Illustration

Eyes, check!

So, yesterday was another check mark off the systems analysis that has become my life as of late.  Went to the ophthalmologist to have my vision checked, post-hospital stay.  She declared me medically sound.

The reason for this is that back when I was around 12 I had another immune break down similar to that I’ve been going through with this acute anemia, and ended up with Toxoplasmosis that settled in my left eye.  For a while they were worried I might lose sight in that eye, but actually here it is forty years later and that’s my stronger eye.  The doctor said she found scarring (a form of pigmentation actually) on the retina from that earlier event, but it’s completely inert and nothing to worry about.

No detached retinas.  No cataracts.  No sign of macular degeneration to speak of.

So I’m good.

I took a walk around the lake to celebrate, to let the dilation fluid wear off a bit, and just to see if I could do it.  I did it.

I’m still a bit fatigued, even after a good night’s sleep, but I think I must be getting better.  Going in for more blood work today, so we’ll see if my numbers are up tomorrow when I go in for the reevaluation.  At very least they should have eliminated a couple more possible reasons for the anemia.

At this point it’s just becoming a nuisance.  I’d like to get back to normal life, but until my energy comes back in full that’s simply not possible.  I’m also a little embarrassed to have to keep telling people about my health.  It’s silly I know, but I don’t want to be one of those people who goes on and on about his health problems.  Life’s too sweet to spend it talking about doctor’s visits all the time.

Cartoon and Illustration

It’s not Leukemia

That’s mostly what the doctor has had to say so far.  They aren’t certain what is causing my anemia, but we’ve ruled out Leukemia so far.

Which means there’s time.  Leukemia is an aggressive cancer and if I had that I would probably have been whisked off to another hospital without even a chance to go back home for fresh underwear.

As it is we’ve got time to investigate what’s going on.  It’s sort of like “Calculatus Elemenatus” from Cat In The Hat.  The doctors look at my bone marrow and blood and keep looking for stuff that it isn’t before narrowing in on what it actually is.

So good news is good news.

It’s still frustrating–still have to deal with fatigue, recurring headache, and some vision issues.  But we aren’t freaking out.

Life goes on.  I even dealt with the South Carolina Department of Revenue yesterday–who decided to assess me for $1845.12 in sales taxes for some reason while I was in the hospital!  Go figure, I don’t even live or work in SC.  I think it’s handled, should know by next week.

Today I got a notice that my Photoshop CS3 license was expired and that I had to “uninstall/reinstall” in order to get it to work.  Did I panic?  No!  I simply restarted in safe mode, ran a fsck check and rebooted.  Normally I’d have been pulling my hair out.

So people must be praying for me.  Otherwise I’d be a mess.

Thank you everyone who’s been praying for me.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this earlier–everyone who donated blood, whoever you are, thank you.  I would likely not be typing this right now if you had not donated your blood to the Red Cross blood bank!  You are true heroes for doing so.

Cartoon and Illustration

I’m only gonna write this once…

Not that I’m threatening anything, it’s just I figure if I do this right I’ll only have to write this one time and then cut and paste it into various formats to send to people and inform them about what’s been going on (like why they haven’t heard from me, why they haven’t been getting the work they were promised, why I’m not at the shows I’m supposed to be, etc.)

The reason is that on Thanksgiving Day I was flat on my back in the hospital.

To paraphrase Maxfield Parrish it was, “a new departure for me in celebrating that day.”  (And may I add, one I hope not to repeat anytime soon.)

I had been suffering from a persistent headache since Halloween.  As I’ve had migraines in the past that had serious duration (back in 2007 when Karin was recovering from surgery I had one that took a couple of months to get over) I figured this was something similar.  But I was having other symptoms as well; fatigue, rushing of blood in my ears, inability to concentrate, irritability, etc.

So after some debate with myself last Wednesday, I finally decided that I could not possibly make it through the holiday to my next scheduled doctor’s appointment.  I called Karin (who was out shopping with a friend) and she came home and took me to the local Urgent Care Center.

They balked a little about me coming in over what appeared at first to be simply a headache, but because of the additional symptoms they did do some blood work and found I was suffering from severe anemia.  Which triggered a face-mask, and then a trip to the ER (do not pass GO, do not collect $200) being checked into the hospital for a round of vampirism to the tune of 4 units of whole blood, plus a side-order of saline drip, morning blood lettings, a round of MRI and MRA scans, and numerous tests with various medications to see how I’d react.

Long story short–I’ve been home since Sunday afternoon trying to rest up from all the “rest” I got in the hospital.  (I’m not insulting them, they know it’s a struggle trying to get any sort of rest there–and they told me to go home and sleep as much as possible.)

I’m now on a medication originally designed to suppress seizures, but used effectively for severe headache sufferers.  No horrible side-effects so far.

My MRI/MRA turned up that my right interior carotid artery is fully blocked.  Not something that they expected to find as I do not fit the profile.  But there it is.  So they put me on a medication to help control my cholesterol (but not a statin drug as I did not handle those well at all).  Again, no side-effects to speak of thus far (other than it knocks me out, but I take it at bedtime, so no biggie).  The point of this is to keep the other side clear, because as the Hospitalist said, “You can live with just one–but you can’t live with none!”

On Monday morning I had a bone marrow biopsy taken at the local Oncologist/Histologist office.  While not the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, it was (mercifully) a short procedure.  Now I’m dealing with the soreness–but it’s not too bad.

The histologist is still working on the results.  But I did see a GP this morning and she did reassure me (well, us both) that in my case this appears to be more an issue of histology rather than oncology–which is to say, it doesn’t look like any form of cancer causing my anemia.

I’m supposed to see the histology report tomorrow and speak to the doctor about where to go with the treatment program–Lord willing they won’t have to reschedule that.

I have had to cancel my planned trip to Yama-Con in Pigeon Forge this weekend.  It’s okay, the folks in charge were among the first to know and have been very accommodating (as has been Tim, my weekend roommate; Kaysha, who I was going to carpool with; Shane, assistant-inker and table-buddy; and Shaun and Seth, who were to be fellow panelists).

Sorry if you are among those expecting to see me there.  Lord willing I’ll be back next year.

Still up in the air about Cherokee Christmas Con (Dec. 17-19).  That will depend a lot on the prognosis from the doctor tomorrow.  But so far they’ve put no restrictions on me, so it may not be a lost cause.  My table’s paid for, so I may be able to make it.

A lot of people have been praying for us through this, and words cannot express how thankful we are for all of those prayers.  We’ve felt “the peace that passes all understanding”–and I mean that!  Normally I’d be a complete wreck, a bundle of nerves–but somehow we’ve gotten through this without much in the way of histrionics.  Admittedly, Karin and I did have a bit of weepiness in the hospital late last Friday night.  Going through all of this without our parents for the first time is a new experience for us both.  But God is with us, and what are we going to do anyway?  One cannot run away from one’s own body.  It is what it is.

For now it would appear that what it is, isn’t all that bad.  It could have been bad if I had not gone to the Urgent Care when I did–but as things worked out, all seems to be fine.  I’ll know more tomorrow, but should be getting back to work soon.

For now it’s good just to be back in the studio again for a little while.