No, as some of you may have noticed, I'm still around. Life continues along it's merry way, despite our expectations that something life changing has happened.
My first Chemo happened almost four (4) weeks ago. Inconvenient is the best description. (For some reason, my employer didn't want to tell the customer that I'm on Chemo... Guess they were afraid it would cause issues. Ended up telling them anyway, and not an issue.) I had my first two doses - on a Monday/Tuesday... Then, Wednesday evening, about 8:30pm, I suddenly realized I was exhausted - and slept until almost 9:30am the next morning... Same thing happened on Thursday. Then, I was more or less back to normal. (Okay, a bit tirder than normal over the weekend, but that's it!) If this is what it'll be like going forward. That's a good thing! LOL
The following week, my wife and youngest went on a Mission Trip to Kentucky (Deep in apalachia - they and 20 others from our church replaced a roof on someone's house, replaced front and back steps, and did some other jobs.) This was a real education to most of those who went. They had no clue that people lived in such conditions (The lady had running water in her house - but it wasn't safe to drink). And, not having ANY electronics for the entire week - started out to be a real hardship for the kids, but by the end of the week, they discovered that their cell phones, iPods, etc. really weren't as important as they'd though. They were UNANIMOUS in wanting to go back NEXT summer, despite the REALLY HARD WORK in high temperatures and no modern electronics/etc.
At the beginning of that week - hours after they left, I got word that my favorite Uncle (The one that helped my wife and I get married - he did the first have of the service so my wife's dad could give her away and then put his robes on and come marry us.) had passed away suddenly. While I couldn't get to his funeral, I was so glad I'd gotten to visit with him (and his wife) just a short time ago. It was hard hearing of his passing - he'd been such a wonderful and caring person! But, he was suffering from Alzheimer's, and didn't really understand that his wife was dieing in front of him (She has terminal cancer). They both had a blessing though - my cousin (the one who got married last summer) and his 48 yr old wife had a baby - and had gone down to visit just days before, so he saw his new grandchild, and the grandchild was there to help my Aunt.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I went to that child's baptisim, and interacted well with a chunk of the family. All were good, though some were easier with my new name/pronouns than others. (Mostly the one with the problem was the dad's older brother, and it's that he's known me all my life and not switching gears easily. His brother - the dad of the baby - is great about me, as is his wife, older kids.... Even one of my aunts (one my mom and her older sister weren't sure about) was great.
Things were going great! My blood work showed the Chemo was doing it's job! My white count was WAY down (almost to the normal range) and the my red blood count was coming up, back into the normal range. YEA!
But, yeah, you knew there had to be a but, didn't you...
Yeah, there is a but. Not where the Leukemia's concerned, directly... But one of the non-chemo drugs I was on, to handle potential side effects of the chemo... Well, let me put it this way. It is NOT fun to develop an alergy to a drug! Last week, I started breaking out in hives from the top of my head to below my waist! By Saturday morning, I was in misery, scratching myself. (Taking Benedryl every four hours, Applying Ice Packs, Appling hydrocortisone creame and/or calamine lotion... Called my doc, and they didn't know what I was reacting to at the time... So - Continue benedryl, up my prednisone big time for the weekend, and we'd see on Monday. Saw my Hemotologist on Monday, and he made a guess at the most likely drug that was causing the problem and I went off that one. Tuesday, I was worse. My doc bumped my prednisone back up to 100 mg (from 40mg/day) for two days... And, finally, by the day Wednesday, I was able to go off the Benedryl... Last night, I even slept most of the night. Oh, I still look like I'm a mess, and the hives/redness/etc. covers more of my body, but it's not quite so itchy... Still no Benedryl needed. *sighs* Okay, it itches, but I can manage. And, today, you can SEE some improvement on my arms. *sighs*
No - a drug alergy is NOT FUN!!! I do NOT recommend them. The biggest problem, now from the rash/etc. is that my face/skin feels REALLY DRY. Guess it's been working over time. Ya think? :-)
The rest of the family - I'm the healthy one, if you can believe it. Two with Bronchitis, and one with a pulled shoulder muscle.
On a separate front, my voice therapy seems to be getting somewhere. It's as much work as I expected! But, not in the WAY I expected. Perhaps something I can weave into a story, as I find time to write some more (and, yes, I actually did get some writing done last month!).
In addition, my wife is still getting universal support from her colleagues - both on my transition, and on help, when she needs to be with me for my Chemo! My daughters friends also appear to be universally supportive (with one possible exception... TBD). And, the one couple in Church who I had questions about - the wife took my wife aside, and told her she supported us.
So, all in all, I think the world is moving along... The wife and I even talked about surgeries (yes plural) for next year, under the assumption that chemo is successful and I'm in remission. :-) Still work to do, but, I can continue to smile. :-)
Thanks for reading. Hope the tedious details weren't too booring. As my therapist said, it seems that my Leukemia flareup has had a silver lining in that it's made my transition MUCH less important to most people.