Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dr. Appointment & Some Silliness

Well, I waited to post the results of this month’s doctor visit until I had all the reports back. Actually it is all pretty good news. There was hardly any change at all in the regular blood tests. Platelet level slipped a little to 103, but surprisingly, the red cell count came up right next to normal. I am not considered anemic. Both Cheryl and I thought for sure that had plunged, just because of how extraordinarily tired I have been. My IGG actually went up a little, although it is still low. My onc decided to hold off again on IVIG because I have not had an infection and he is having a little trouble getting it. (That is the $10,000 a month treatment.) What I really wanted to know was the cause of my fatigue. As most of you know, I have been struggling with that since almost the beginning, but it has been getting worse again. He asked us a bunch of questions. My wife told him I will sometimes fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. I didn’t know I did thzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Oh, sorry, anyway, he said it could just be the underlying CLL, or it might even be a combination of all the different medications I take, but he also wanted to check my testosterone levels. He told us about one of his patients who had low levels and he was placed on the testosterone patch and he was like a new person. So, at my Monday appointment, I had more blood drawn. Of course, I then did some research on the Web. Although I did find fatigue associated with low levels, it was barely mentioned in most places I looked, but a LOT of other things going on with me did fit. Apparently low levels can be as a result of chemotherapy, and, it can result in loss of strength and muscle tone (yep and yep) and lead to osteoporosis – I already have that. Well, as I was beginning to suspect, my levels are low. I had a message on my phone from the doctor’s office. The message said I should contact my primary care doctor to get on the testosterone replacement patch. Wow, I pray this is an answer. Now, do you think I might start growing hair on the top of my head? Watch, instead I will have to braid long nose and ear hairs. It will start growing everywhere except my head. Ooo, yuck, sorry. Of course, we also aren’t planning to do chemo any time soon. Remember, when I finished up eight rounds last summer, my onc said we were stopping for three months, but we might get six months out of it. Hmm, I am now in my 11th month! I guess God’s timetable is a little different from my oncologist’s timetable.
I leave Sunday afternoon to go to Dallas to conduct a five day training. This will be the last time I conduct this course and I only have one more class to teach before I retire. Strange feeling after 37 years of working as a trainer. Now, if I can just keep from falling asleep when I am in front of the class. Snoring on the part of the instructor always detracts from the presentation.

Now for the “silly break.” I am in charge of the coffee fund for two work sections at the state health department. Yesterday one of the coffee machines died. Here is the announcement I wrote for our coffee fund members:


February 14, 2007 – June 13, 2007

Sadly, at 8:17 on June 13, 2007, Mr. Black A. Decker expired. Foul play, though initially suspected, was quickly ruled out. Doctors say the cause of death was overwork, an oddity at his place of employment. Although surrounded by health care workers, all efforts to revive him were for naught. Mr. Decker, placed into service on February 14, 2007 and recruited from Wal-Mart, was extremely young for his breed, having lived and served only three months, 29 days. Normal life expectancy for one in his circumstances averages over one year. Autopsy results revealed a lot of rough living in his short life. He was scarred, pitted and unkempt. His internal plumbing showed evidence of hard living and hard water. Although he was listed as an organ donor, only his pot was saved. Viewing was held in room 1004 on June 13, 2007, during normal work hours. He was placed in a custom made box from the Original Manufacturer and placed in a temporary holding can.

Mourning turned to anger when word got out that his demise resulted in July NOT being a free month for fund participants. All respect was lost and Mr. Decker was relegated to the trash heap at the end of the day. An anonymous source remarked, “So much for loyalty and compassion!”

Mr. Decker is survived by his older friend and work companion, Mr. Proctor Silex, who works in the decaf department. Black’s position was quickly filled by a distant cousin of Mr. Silex, also named Proctor Silex, who ironically is black. He was quickly recruited from the local grocery store. The new Mr. Silex is more beautiful than his older cousin and he is equipped with more, though rarely used, options. Mr. Silex’s current caretaker, Mr. J. Wagner who is himself soon retiring (but not expiring) from state service, said, “Long live Proctor. My wish is that he is treated with the dignity and respect he deserves. My dream is that if I should return for a visit even two years from now that I would find Proctor healthy and continuing to dispense liquid caffeine for future state workers. Lord knows they need something to keep them awake and working.” Mr. Wagner arranged a three gun salute as a final tribute to Mr. Decker. “These guys were happy to do it,” said Wagner. “Of course it didn’t hurt that I was able to convince them it was also duck hunting season.”

Friday, June 01, 2007

Good Grief! I've Been Wrong All These Years

I am so upset. I have been wrong since 1950! That is when I learned, or thought I had learned how to do it. How could this be? I only found the error of my ways two weeks ago. Only through the power of the Internet did I discover I have been doing it wrong all these years. What is it, what is it, you ask? 57 years of tying my shoes incorrectly!! I am so embarrassed. My bows were crooked and floppy and I never knew why and I turned a blind eye to my transgression. How many people have been secretly laughing and pointing at me behind my back? All those years of sitting in classrooms, waiting rooms, airport terminals, standing in front of classes and even standing for inspection in the military. And nobody had the common decency of pointing out my folly? Not even my closest friends? How could this happen? My parents failed me. My grade school failed me. My Kindergarten teacher failed me. But a complete stranger came to my rescue by having the decency to make an entire website dedicated to the proper art of tying and lacing up shoes. Ian’s Shoelace site finally set me straight. Thank you, Ian. (Actually if you Google shoe tying, you will find MANY sites dedicated to this art, including lots of instructional video.)

I feel like I should sue someone for all those years that are now causing me mental anguish. But who should I sue? If I sue my 92 year old Mom, all I would get is maybe a case of chocolate Boost, a box of Depends, and a picture of my youngest brother Bill (Mom always liked him best). I doubt I could sue Miss Jennings, my kindergarten teacher. Shoe tying and counting to ten was the final exam and requirement to graduate into the first grade. I even think I could hold her responsible, but I doubt she is still alive. You see she was my Mom’s kindergarten teacher and my older brother’s teacher too. So that would make her one hundred and gazillion years old. Maybe I could sue the school? If they hadn’t put that elevated, table-top sandbox in the corner of my Kindergarten classroom, I might have spent less time playing in the sand and more time practicing the art of proper shoe tying. But I don’t know if Lincoln Elementary School in Johnson City, New York, still exists. So who is left? I don’t know. Any suggestions are more than welcome.

So what was my error? I was making Granny knots!! I learned back in Boy Scouts that you should never tie a Granny knot, only square knots. “Right over left and left over right, makes the knot neat and tidy and tight.” But even the Boy Scouts didn’t help me transfer that knowledge to shoe tying. Granny knots caused my bows to be crooked and floppy. What can be worse than crooked, floppy bows? Actually learning to tie my shoes properly has been difficult. I now have to stop and think about it and sometimes start over. Also, like someone in recovery, I am now highly critical of others and find myself looking at other’s bows to see if they are floppy or straight. When I see a crooked, floppy bow I just shake my head and silently pity the person – but I would never point and laugh behind their back. I haven’t quite worked up the courage to actually correct someone, yet – don’t sue me! So, to help you out, here are pictures of the end result of the correct and incorrect way of tying shoes.

Now look down at your shoes. If the bows match the first picture, congratulations, but if they match the second picture, click on the link to Ian’s site and learn how to do it correctly. If you looked down and saw sandals or flip-flops, then good for you. If you saw penny loafers, you are older than I am.

Since this is my leukemia/lymphoma Blog, I guess it is only fair to give an update. I go for my blood work Monday and I expect that my red cells may have decreased. My fatigue is much more pronounced again. When I went to Las Vegas with my daughter last week, I was in bed the first night at 8 p.m. and the second night before 9 p.m. and had naps each day, too. Who goes to bed that early in Vegas besides Baptists and folks with Leukemia? Oh yes, I forgot, I am both so that explains it. Actually, I did have a good time and saw some neat things on a couple of tours and I will post pictures as soon as I download them. In the meantime, get those shoes tied correctly!