Skin Cancer

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Can’t see it very well but…that’s blistering from a date with a flame thrower today.

Went to the dermatologist today – as all transplant patients do – and was told that with the meds I take I’m at a 60% higher risk for squamous cell carcinoma – skin cancer. 

Then he inspected every inch of my body and found multiple pre-cancerous spots on my head.

So he used liquid nitrogen to burn the top layer of skin off all those spots. Not pleasant. So now they blister, then scab, then a new layer of skin grows back.

I have to sunscreen my face every day before going out for the rest of my life.

But, as my son Chris, said, “Yeah doesn’t sound fun at all, but you’re still alive and we couldn’t be more thankful for God for it!!”

Perspective.

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>>> NO REJECTION!! <<<

Just left the doctor’s office and that’s the word. Thank you, Jesus!

Week before last my medical team decided to push up my biopsy from tomorrow to Wednesday of last week. The results show much improvement from last months’ biopsy results and no acute signs of rejection.

The simplest explanation of the possible cause of the rejections is an absorption problem of the primary medication used to suppress my immune system, and thus fight off rejection. That med level was dangerously low a few times, which is probably what opened the door to the attacks. In the last month they have gotten that med level much more stabilized and in the range it should be, so everyone is confident that rejection issues are over.

While our initial reaction was tears of joy and prayers of gratitude, we’ve found that our bodies and minds are taking a little longer to absorb this news. We are pretty shell-shocked from the rocky road of the last 4 months – 4 surgeries with sedation, plus 4 biopsies in 3 months, the 2 rejection incidents, Prednisone for 3 months, including two weeks of high-dose infusions, and nearly 40 blood draws. This whole time we’ve been waiting for the next shoe to drop. So to hear that there’s no dropping shoe is wondrous, but foreign, and we are still processing.

I will still have a few check-ups a year and will take the immunosuppressants the rest of my life. Hopefully you won’t hear from me about this for a looooong time.

Stacy and I, and my family, cannot thank you all enough for walking through this journey the past 2.5 years with us. We are blest far more than we deserve.

Our prayer for us, and you: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4)

Surprise!

What a special surprise today…got this amazing, handmade pillow from Carol Tummarello in Texas. Now understand that I have never met Carol. She is my daughter-in-law Sarah’s Grandma sister. What an angel, and an inspiring message. Hugz Carol…someday in person!

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Biopsy Update

12788680_10153394874893016_1092241755_oNo I am NOT pregnant. The photo is actually of my certified, pre-owned kidney (brought to you by Glenn Millar; made possible by Emory Fuqua). I took this from the ultrasound used at Monday’s biopsy.

Was informed that the biopsy did not get a sufficient sample, so we’re doing it again! Oh boy. Apparently the muscles in that area kept the 14-inch needle from getting close to get deeper in the kidney. (Definitely the first time I’ve been accused of having too much muscle.)

So we’re doing it again next Thursday. Bummed about delaying the diagnosis of the state of the kidney. But Stacy reminded me that maybe it needed an extra week to get better. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

I remember teaching a Bible study in my 20’s talking about how Rest/Trust/Wait are the hardest things to do in my spiritual walk. Certainly no easier 30 years later. So let’s just say I’m getting to exercise those muscles through this journey.

Overall, definitely feeling relief from the effects from the higher doses of prednisone last month. Still on daily low dose, and that comes with its own effects, but not as bad. Finally having the energy to walk more and work in the yard has been good for me.

Thanks to all for your love and support!

Easy.

O Lord, how can I fret when you walk with me?
Easy.
My mind is small, confined, tunnel-visioned.
The things of Earth grow strangely bright,
instead of dim.
I envy the lillies, which toil not.
[Hard to imagine a toil-free existence.]
Worry is threaded through my DNA.
Trying to remember a point in life when worries added a single moment to my life.
Easy.
They didn’t.
And yet I cling to it, like an addict.
Just one more hit … like it does me good.
Soloman said, “So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy.”
Sounds like a relevant goal.
Jesus said,”That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life.”
Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
So, today.
Today I will choose to breathe surrender.
A daily – no hourly; nay, minutely – decision.
Things above over things below.
Yes to St. Paul, who said, “Don’t worry about anything…tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Thank you.
– Mike Atkinson

Dark Side of the Moon

Folks have been asking how I’m doing. It feels kinda like slowly rotating out of the dark side of the moon. (How’s that for dramatics?)
 
Last week was tough with the side effects from the prednisone infusions. But Sunday evening I started feeling some relief, and a bit more each day. Yesterday was the first day I felt like walking in the yard in a week. (And at 88 degrees!)
 
From here on it’s low-dose oral prednisone for about a month. At that point I’ll have another biopsy of the kidney to see how it’s responded to the treatment. Here’s hopin’!
 
A friend sent me this the other day, and I love it!
 
“I don’t know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text will it ever read …
‘I gave up.'”
 
ONWARD!

The Spoon Theory

No other resource was more helpful in assisting my friends and family to understand what it was like to be me while battling chronic kidney disease.

If you deal with chronic illness, please read this, then forward it to those closest to you. They will be enlightened and you will be relieved when they don’t pressure you as much. Many times my folks or kids would ask how my spoons were doing.

This is from the website But You Don’t Look Sick. You can also download this article in PDF format or get it translated in Spanish, Hebrew, and French.

Read it in English:

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino

Prison Break, Part 2

Got some wonderful moments at the beach today. (Second half of Crystal Pier closed due to high surf.) Added bonus! Time with our dear friends Fred & Nancy Gale, who stopped here to visit on their way home to Boston. Nancy took on breast cancer last year and won! So we had much to talk about, including so many shared experiences on our own journeys.

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