That’s the question people ask me all the time: How’s it going? or How you doing?
Well, I guess I’m doing alright.
My own bone marrow has suffered an almost total failure, so I’m not producing and red blood cells or platelets. Red cells carry oxygen out to the cells in the body and carbon dioxide back out to the lungs to be exhaled. Platelets are part of the complicated system of blood clotting.
The lack of red cell production means that I am not replacing cells that die off, as they do. This means I have less capacity to carry oxygen to the cells to burn carbs, and thus I have very low energy levels.
The lack of platelet production means that I bruise easily and a lot, sometimes for no reason at all that we know of. So far most of these bruises have stayed away from my face. If I get a big bruise on my face I’ll probably have to avoid public for a couple weeks.
So I’m losing—and not replacing—red cells at a rate of about one unit a week. A unit is the amount of blood they collect when you donate blood. Platelets are at a very low level, and there isn’t much to be done about that.
While I can’t produce these cells, I am blessed by many people who can and who are willing to share. Every two weeks I go to the hospital and get a unit of platelets and two units of red cells. The platelets only last a few days, but the red cells keep me alive for another two weeks. Not at normal levels, but alive.
If you ever feel like your blood donations are taken for granted, let me assure you that all donations are appreciated and your blood is always used by someone who needs it.
My frequency of needing red cells had accelerated for the last five years until I got to this current rate of a unit a week. That has been surprisingly regular for over a year. No one can guess how long this regimen will last. In fact, it’s rather unexpected that it has been stable this long. I praise God that this is available, even though I’ve been known to grouse around a bit on my hospital days. Shame after me.
My dear wife Carol is the best helper you could ever ask for. One of my earlier unsuccessful treatments made my cataracts pretty bad, so she has to do almost all the driving for us. The little convertible sports car seems to help with her enthusiasm for driving, though. I’ve lost my taste for a lot of foods that I used to enjoy, and she is faithful to make lunches that are always my very favorite things. She has to stay home more than she would like, but she hardly ever complains about it, and she will watch Gunsmoke and First 48 with me until the cows come home.
Since I got sick, and maybe somewhat even before that, I unplugged from the news. I took this step for my mental health. Some people think I have “gone liberal” since I got sick, and they probably think my head is weak. But the truth is that I just don’t care much about politics and I have learned to see things from more than just the right side. The far right makes me just as sick as the far left, and maybe even sicker. I don’t really care who gets elected as the governor of Virginia—hey, I don’t live in Virginia. Any Christian who cares more about that than the study of scripture deserves what they get.
I have grown closer to my Father through this unending time of sickness. I know the time of my death will not be too long into the future. I don’t know anything at all about what happens after death, but I know for sure that when Christ returns I will be raised bodily from the grave and will live in his perfect kingdom on earth for the rest of eternity. That’s worth waiting for, and it is far from the best part of being a Christian.
Thanks for indulging me in this little update. I’d really rather not write about myself, but people always ask.