One Year In

I’ve known I needed to post an update here for quite a while. But I honestly haven’t known what to post. Today is one year since my diagnosis. My entire life has changed in that year. New Year’s Eve 2015 was spent in Florida with my wife’s aunt and her family. We also made a day trip out to the panhandle to visit some friends. Looking back, I was tired. And I was dizzy. But I had no idea what was really happening.

When we got home, I had an appointment with a hematologist at Emory-St. Joseph on January 12th. Making the drive to Atlanta, I thought I was going to be getting the results of some CT scans and a new round of labs. Instead, my hemoglobin was dangerously low and I was admitted for multiple blood transfusions and for them to figure out once and for all what was going on.  Four days, another bone marrow biopsy, more lab work than I can possibly remember, and six units of blood later, I had my official diagnosis. Not surprisingly, I had no clue how much of an impact it would have on everything.

We waited for a clinical trial, but after multiple delays, we decided to go ahead with the conventional treatment protocol. In the mean time, we also dealt with a nearly one month hospitalization due to Sweets Syndrome. The treatments have been going well. I just finished my 5th round this past week. My numbers have been holding steady for longer, and I have gone from needing multiple blood transfusions each week being able to go a few weeks in between. My white blood cell counts, while still low, are much higher than they have been – meaning my immune system is doing better.

Due to my extended absence, my employment with Georgia College was terminated in November and I’m now going through the process of applying for disability.  It has been an insane journey. I’ve been through the Kübler-Ross model more times than I can count. But in the end, knowing it is a normal process and having a great team supporting me. And that makes finding acceptance much easier, even if I don’t like it. And I’m constantly amazed at the new people that have entered my life through the process.

Chemo isn’t fun. But being in the lab is like hanging out with old friends now. I’m spending more time enjoying ham radio and photography in between doctors appointments and treatments. I’m helping Nikki with Relay for Life, and have my own team (feel free to donate or join!). We also have several great fundraisers going with Thirty-One Tall Totes and Chemo Care Bags.

And mostly, I am trying to make the most of every moment. Every day is unpredictable. Some days I wake up and feel (comparatively) great. Other days, I have difficulty even getting out of bed. But either way, I’m grateful for being able to wake up and see a new sunrise. I don’t know what the second year may hold. But I know I can face it.

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