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The first thing you need to know about Leukemia…

…is that a wide range of illnesses fall under that umbrella description.  Basically it’s a blood illness–and after 16 months of trying to nail down what I’ve been suffering from, the doctors have finally decided to put me into the “Leukemia” category.

Not to panic.  Apparently mine is a mild form, non-agressive, and can be treated with an oral chemo normally prescribed for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or acute psoriasis.  This form of Leukemia often goes into remission for decades at a time, and so the doctors are encouraging me to be of good cheer.

You see almost anything can be deadly if untreated.  Puppies for example.  Sure they’re cute when they’re little tykes, but leave them to their own devices for a couple of years and you’re going to get bitten.

So it’s a good thing that I realized that something was off back before Christmas when my head began to hurt and I became fatigued in a manner similar to what I had back in late 2015.  There was that trip to the ER on New Year’s Eve that was mistaken for a viral infection (and it could have been one on top of the Leukemia) but I’m getting improved treatment due to early detection.

Took my first batch of chemo pills this morning.  The doctors also assure me that they don’t cause hair loss or nausea like so many of these meds can.  The real trick is for me to stay very hydrated, because the medication is metabolized through my kidneys (and liver to a lesser extent) and dehydration can lead to all manner of awful side-effects.

So, lots and lots of water.  If you see me at a show in the future and I’m headed toward the restrooms for the fourth time, you’ll know why–just taking care of my health!

Now, I’m not saying that I haven’t been scared by this change in diagnosis.  When we spoke to the doctor from Duke last week and the word “leukemia” was mentioned I have to admit my mind froze.  It was a good thing that Karin was there to hear all the rest of what he had to say because I got none of it!  Just mumbled some things like, “Well, alright.   That sounds prudent…”

Yesterday the official diagnosis came down after the Duke folks talked to my local Hematologist and he had me in for an office visit.  So in a moment it seems I’m seeing an Oncologist rather than a Hematologist–good thing my doctor is both.

The overall levels are actually pretty good.  My white blood cells are where they would like them, as are my blood platelets, and my blood oxygenation is at 100%–but my hemoglobin levels are off.  That’s apparently what clued them in that this was more than the previously diagnosed “Idiopathic Aplastic Anemia”.  They did another bone marrow biopsy and confirmed their suspicions–and here I am.

Today I’m going to have my blood “typed and crossed” for a transfusion to be done on Friday morning.  Probably no biggie.  I’ve had several of those already back in the last two years.  While I had hoped never to have to have another, it’s gotten to the point that I actually requested this one.  It begins to stress the various organs when hemoglobin levels are off in any form of anemia–and my ability to exercise has been significantly impaired over the last few weeks.

Whereas I normally try to walk two miles several times a week, it’s been difficult for me to do more than a mile at a slow pace more than once or twice a week.  As for doing any sort of gym workout–few exercises can be done before my head pounds.

So, actually looking forward to another transfusion.  Hopefully it goes off without any complications.  There’s always that risk in this sort of thing, but as I’ve got a class scheduled for 3:30 on Friday I’m hoping all goes well.  (Last time I had a transfusion I immediately went out and walked around Lake Junaluska–so good results are not uncommon either).

All the prayers folks have been offering on my behalf–greatly appreciated!  Thank you all.   The power is not in our prayers, but in the power of God to heal.  Keep on praying for me.  Keep praying for Karin–she’s obviously upset by having to deal with all of this, but doing well all things considered.

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