Cartoon and Illustration

Don’t know why I imagined this was going to be easy

So, where have I been?  Well, mostly in bed for the past week.

Let me back up.  Around about last Friday I started having some “typical secondary symptoms” (a rash) that often accompany immuno suppression therapy.  No big deal, right?  Talked to the doctors at Duke, they said take some Benedryl and Tylenol and stay alert for any other symptoms.  No big deal.

Which was fine.  That is until around 6 am on Sunday morning when I began having chills and a fever, which precipitated a trip to the ER in a snowstorm.  Again, seemed like no big deal.  The ER docs were great and they quickly diagnosed the problem as not a reaction to the therapy but rather a case of Strep.  So they gave me IV antibiotics and sent me home with a prescription for 10 days Doxy-cycline.  Yeah great, whatever.

The problem is that this wasn’t Strep throat, it was more like Strep everything.  I itched, and my digestion has been off…i.e. pains all the way through.  No major upheavals, just pains and pricks of pain.  The feeling that all my sphincters are off-synch, and a major case of heart burn–for which I can’t take anything, because the antibiotic cannot be taken with anything like that (not to mention 800 major interactions with the immuno-suppression drug).

Also the oral antibiotic was NOT well tolerated.  I barfed up the first dose.  After that I have had to take it with food.

The ER release form said that I shouldn’t try to do anything for a couple of days–strict bed rest.  So I figured I’d be back in the studio by Wednesday.  Well, it’s Friday today and I only just dragged myself in here today and that’s only because I had to do some county tax forms before the day was out or else face a penalty.  (BTW this is my alibi if I did them wrong–just finished them up a while ago, Karin’s going to stick them in the mail tonight so they’ll be postmarked on time).  (For all you techies asking, “Why not do them online?  Because the price of two stamps is still less than the $14.95 per form online listing fee our county wants!)

Anyway, no deep thoughts today.  Not asking for a pity party either.  Just letting everyone know that the reason nobody has heard from me much this week is that I’ve been trying to survive.  Just getting by.

I’m very much reminded of when I was 11-12 years old.  I really was a sickly kid.  I had nothing at that point with which to compare things to.  Now, having lived a good portion of my life in a reasonable state of health I find that this present state is kind of a drag and look forward to being well again soon.  The docs tell me 3-6 months is the expected amount of time the immuno-suppression therapy takes to get the average body back on track.  I’m hoping that it’s closer to 3 because I don’t think I can take 6 months of trips to the ER and a week off for every little infection that blows my way.

Looking ahead.  The weather seems to be turning a bit warmer for a few days.  It’s my understanding that for the next few days we’re supposed to have a thaw with spring-like temperatures here.  I hope I can get out and walk around a bit in that.  Just a bit.  Just to clear my head of the cabin fever.  I’ve been sitting at home too long.

I also hope to get some drawing done.  It’s been too long since I did any actual drawing.  Need to draw.  Think I’ll do that now.

Cartoon and Illustration

We have a winner!

The winner of the “What’s wrong with Doodle? pool” is: Idiopathic Aplastic Anemia!  Thanks everyone who played along at home, and I hope you all have had fun.  Remember that there are no losers because we all learned something, right?

I for one learned that the passageway between the Duke laboratory section and the food court at the cancer center smells like an original episode of Ultraman must have.  No, really.  It smells just like the boxes we used to get in the 1960s with toys that had shipped from Japan.

I also learned that Chick-Fil-A is the most popular lunchtime attraction at Duke, no matter what Subway, Panda Express, or the salad place want to tell you.  People who are there having blood tests and doctor consultations are not in the mood for “healthy” food.  They’ll be getting plenty of that once they check into the hospital–right at that moment they want some waffle fries!

I’ll soon be checking into Duke Hospital for a week’s infusion of immunosuppression therapy.  That is to say they’re going to hook me up to an IV solution of some goop (sorry if this gets technical) made of human thymus gland that has been injected into some volunteer horses to create a serum–not unlike insulin as I understand it.

(Side note to everyone:  In spite of how this may sound I have neither cancer nor diabetes.  While I am being treated at the Duke Cancer Center with something related to Insulin, my actual diagnosis shows neither of those previously mentioned illnesses.  The term “idiopathic” actually means the doctors don’t know where the illness came from or what caused it.  But they believe they can cure me with this course of treatment.)

Anyway, I’ll be taking this therapy for four days while they monitor me for fever, chills and other sorts of side-effects that might occur.  Turns out these are actually exactly the same sort of things that they have to watch for when they’ve given me blood transfusions, so no big surprises involved here.  So far I’ve had only about four hours straight of blood transfusions, whereas I’ll be going four days straight with the immunosuppression therapy.

Then they’ll send me home with an oral prescription I’ll take for the next few months and they’ll monitor my blood ever so often to see if I’m producing my own hemoglobin properly again.  Should know in the next 3-6 months if all is correct.

The thing is, I was thinking there were two courses of action –either immunosuppression therapy OR bone marrow transplant.  Turns out that if they wanted to do a bone marrow transplant they’d have to do the immunosuppression therapy anyway leading up to it.  So it’s all one course anyway.  The doctors tell me that this course of treatment is about 80% effective.  Figure those are good odds, and I’ll be back to my old self again soon–if not, just another step along the way.