Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting Stronger ... With Setbacks

In a couple weeks it will be six months since my transplant. If I had a desk job I had to be at 40 hours per week, I could do that, but I would have a lot of sick days—2 or 3 per month plus the monthly day-long trip to Nashville for checkup. I also would not be able to guarantee that I could come in at the same time every morning. There were a number of times in June that between an upset stomach and hemorrhoids, I wasn't fit for the public until 10 a.m.

I wrote that to add my story to the several I've read about how quickly one can go back to work after a bone marrow transplant. The best I've heard is a guy who was back to work full-time after two months!! Another man told me he couldn't work full-time for five years, and then he relapsed with a different form of blood cancer.

My job's not like that, though. I'm the boss again, so I get to set my own hours, and I can do a lot of work from home. Some days I'm up early, and I get in 12 hours of research, writing, and being available by computer and phone for the folks at work and for the church. Sometimes, I need a nap by mid-day.

The last couple days were rough. I'm weaning off of steroids. The only steroid I'm taking is Prednizone. I was taking 30 mg, and they weaned me down to 10 mg. Then they got me off Cellcept, an immunosuppressive. Now that I'm done with that (since June 18), they had me drop to 7.5 mg on the Prednizone.

At the same time, they had me lower the only other medicine that suppresses my immune system because there was too much of it in my blood.

The result was that Tuesday and Wednesday of this week reminded me of February in the hospital. I went down hard. I slept from Monday night at 7 pm until 5 pm Wednesday morning with only a few waking hours. I was exhausted, and I felt as purposeless as I had in the bad days in the hospital.

Wednesday morning, I decided to get up and go to "water day" with the other folks in my community. I tried sleeping all day Tuesday, and that didn't help, so I just pressed on Wednesday morning. I carried chairs down to our big 60'x90' tent, and I watched kids (and adults) shoot each other with water guns while I chatted with friends and walked around a bit to try to get my energy up.

The result? I practically collapsed by noon and slept hard and deep for three hours.

Today, I got up feeling no better, but I had a Christian writers guild that I wanted to go to in Collierville, about and hour and a half from my home. I was driving with a good friend who is the manager of my business and semi-officially the head elder of our church. I was really looking forward to the writers guild and to the time spent with my friend. So I got up and went.

I'm not sure what happened. I had a delightful time, and my energy grew the whole day long. I'm typing this after 11 pm, and I feel as good as I've felt since I've been back home.

I do have to say the last couple days got me to slow down, focus on God again, and wind up feeling really at peace and under grace. Only two months, and I had let myself get really busy and somewhat tense again! I promised myself I'd never return to that kind of lifestyle after I got out of the hospital.

I should know better than to trust my well-meant promises to myself.

But grace came in the form of a couple really rough days and, once again, in the form of my beautiful and amazing wife. She gathered up my whole entire stack of papers from work, called my secretary, organized all the paperwork with her, and delegated some ridiculously large amount of my to do list to other people.

That was the paperwork from my current business. I'm also starting another one! For some reason, for the first time in my life I came up with a really great and necessary business idea, got lots of other people involved, and created a lot of very enjoyable work for myself. My wife helped me with that, too, finding me a great main person to make sure the business gets started properly (for no pay at all to start), and arranging several meetings with key people who can help me.

Okay, so that's what's happening with me nowadays.

Physically, the hemorrhoids (sorry for bringing those up, but they've been a central part of my life for a couple months) have limited how much I could work on running and walking. I have no problem walking over a mile, though, even if there are hills, and I can now do real, proper pushups. A proper pushup for me is to go down far enough that my chest would touch a fist if someone made a fist on the ground below my chest. That's how the military taught me to do a pushup. Two weeks ago, or maybe even last week, I was excited to finally get to where I could do one of those.

So I'm progressing, though I'm still pretty scrawny at 145 pounds fully clothed and in my shoes. I have some loose skin near my elbows on my upper arm that let me know my arms haven't grown back to the size they were before the transplant. Still, progress is progress.

Just thought I'd check in. God bless you all!


  1. Thanks, Shammah, for the update....even though we live next door to each other :) We love you!

  2. Thanks Papa Shammah! I enjoy reading about your many adventures :-) I love how much you appreciate your wife :-) I know you couldn't do it without her...

    Love you!


  3. So glad to hear how your doing.Between moving and my computor
    not working right tonight was the first time looking at Blogs
    Glad your doing better.Love you and miss you Shameh



  4. I want to thank you for sharing this information. I am also dealing with Leukemia right now and I don't yet know if I'll need a transplant. I also have w blog that's a little more scattered but if you're curious.