Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Latest Report Card: Above Average But Needs Improvement

School is back in full swing.  It's only a matter of time before report cards are due.  The frustrating thing about the school I've been forced to attend is that no one gave me a graduation date.  I know it's getting closer, but there always seems to be another test.  I was never an athletic person, so report cards became a tool of self measurement.  Maybe my medical report cards indicate how this battle is going, and why I've fought so hard these last 2 years, no 5 years, no 11 years, whatever.  Here are my current grades:

Lung infection diagnosis and treatment:  A
Several weeks after the lung resection over Labor Day weekend, I finally got the diagnosis:  Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC). This was very good news because, according to the Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Guide, "Surgical resection of a solitary pulmonary nodule is considered curative."  True, I had more than a nodule -- more like a giant mass -- but my infectious disease doctor responded to my shameless begging and agreed that I should not to have additional drug therapy unless we have evidence that the infection remains.  Follow up CT scans are fine with me. Since the two most common forms of mycobacterial infections are Tuberculosis and Leprosy (now called Hansen's Disease), I was pretty relieved that this was one of the 100+ "atypical" strains.

Surgery recovery: B-, Needs Improvement
I'm slowly getting my energy back from the surgery.  The pain is far from gone, but it's better, and I no longer have to struggle with pain killers.  I went for a nice walk on Sunday, which felt great in the brisk fall weather. 

Battle against GVHD: To Be Determined
Late last week I noticed an annoying rash.  "This can't be another episode of Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD)," I thought to myself, switching from denial to panic at any given moment.  "It's probably a reaction to sitting on my incredibly shrinking ass (not in a good way) for most of the last year," I told myself.  Forced to recognize that the rash got worse every day, I went to see my doctors yesterday.  They were mystified, since it doesn't look like classic GVHD.  They took a skin biopsy and gave me a 7 day steroid pack, hoping I'm having a drug reaction to something I was given during the surgery.  I'll find out on Friday if this is just a passing problem or if I have to go back on steroids for several more months.  Not only would this put my system back in a tailspin, but it would start that vicious cycle of being susceptible to more infections, such as the horrible CMV virus (only surfacing when my immune system is suppressed) and other problems, such as my recent lung complication.

One way or another, the rash will disappear, and I should feel pretty good for the Light the Night Walk.  Speaking of the Walk, we're less than two weeks away, so if you can participate in some way, walk or donate, please visit either the Lowenstein team page, or my page.  The team is 71% there and I am 86% to my goal!  Our team held a bake sale and a pizza party at the office, drawing sugar addicts, pizza fans, and all those sympathetic to the cause.  I'm so proud of everyones' efforts and generosity, especially during such hard economic times.

Generosity comes in many forms.  I recently received an email from an expert insurance litigator at my firm, Bob Chesler, who offered to advise people who have had trouble with their insurance coverage due to their cancer diagnosis. How cool is that?  Send an email to me at k_seeley@comcast.net if you or someone you know would like Bob's contact information.

I'm looking forward to resuming my physical therapy sessions, and getting back to my  trusty chiropractor, Dr. Mike.  My back has been pleading with me for an adjustment, but my ribs have been objecting loudly.  My favorite month is here, and I plan to take advantage of it.  I won't be too hard on myself for a less than perfect report card.  I still have an A+ in the most important subject of all:  Remission.  I know I'm on my way to straight As, and that Graduation Day is coming.  Enjoy October and I'll see many of you at the Walk on the 15th!


P.S.  Please note the link on the right, under "My Blog List," for the Asbestos and Mesothelioma News.  I received a comment recently to one of my posts telling me of this organization.  It's so gratifying when someone I don't know finds my blog and considers it helpful.  Sharing information is critical when it comes to health and wellness.