Category Archives: Personal

Hospital Update – May 10, Part 2

Well… Slight change of plans. In order for me to be released I need to be able to get two treatments in the clinic. Insurance is slow in processing the pre-approval because they are backed up from the weekend. So, since they already have approval for me to receive them as in-patient, I will be in the hospital for a few more days until that works out. It is disappointing but not the end of the world.

I’m still very grateful, and know that God has a hand in this even if I can’t see it right now.

Hospital Update – May 10

Last night completed my five part round of initial chemotherapy. The original plan was to stay in the hospital for the 5 days of infusions plus a week or two depending on how I reacted to manage side effects and symptoms.

I’m being released (to outpatient) today.

I will still have daily appointments in the clinic, but I’m doing well enough to be able to leave the hospital and stay with Nikki at the hotel and apartment in a few days when we get to move in. This is a HUGE praise! I would have never anticipated getting out of the hospital this quickly. I’m also told it’s a very good sign because the chemo for the actual transplant (in a few weeks) is similar and should have similar effects.

I have to brag on God for a minute. I’ve been in the hospital quite a few times. I’ve helped take care of others in the hospital. I’ve never seen a care team like this, and I’ve had some superstar nurses. They are constantly asking if you need anything, they applaud you in the hallway as you’re walking laps, and I’ve had so many sweet conversations I don’t know how to fully explain it. Except to say that the Lord has surely gone before me and prepared the way. There is no other way it would have been possible.

Thank you for your continued prayers. There’s still a long way to go, but they are consistently being answered!

Hospital Update – May 7

I just realized I never did an update for yesterday.It was overall a good day, but a very full day. I had various IV meds and blood products going most of the day, but everything went well. A few major praises….

1) My blood sugar is staying regulated (so far) without insulin, even being on steroids.

2) I’ve not had any issues with nausia. Basically the pre-meds are keeping me feeling better than when I am home.

3) I had the best nights sleep last night as I’ve had in a long time. I guess I just finally crashed. I don’t even remember them changing some of my IVs during the night.

As for today, I’m waiting for lab results to see what products I’m going to need. We should know that in a little bit.

One specific prayer request. We have been approved for special housing through the hospital. However, there is a several week wait list before it becomes available. Nikki (and I, once I’m released) are in a hotel until that happens. For a multitude of reasons, it will be better once we are in the hospital housing. So please be praying that it happens much sooner than the anticipated time.

Hospital Update – May 5

It’s been a day full, and yet a lot of waiting at the same time. I checked into the BMT unit at 8 o’clock this morning. Throughout the day I met with physical therapy, an endocrinologist, a dietitian, had an echocardiogram, and full body CT scan. I was NPO most of the day waiting for the CT scan, but dinner was very good when I got it.

My treatment protocol is two different types of chemo given four hours apart. I’ve had the first. The second will start about 11 PM tonight. I’ve also had a unit of blood and a unit of platelets. I’m still low, but with the required time separation between blood and chemo it will likely be early morning before I get another unit.

Overall, everything has gone well. Every interaction I have with the nurses and doctors reaffirms that I’m at the treatment center where I need to be. Everyone has been truly wonderful.

The Road Thus Far

I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in January of 2016, following months of testing. Since then I have been through chemotherapy, multiple hospital stays due to complications, and what has developed into twice weekly blood and platelet transfusions.

We knew the entire time that the cure would be a Bone Marrow Transplant. But, the transplant doctors wanted me to lose a substantial amount of weight before it was attempted. So I did. Earlier this year I met my weight goal (I now weigh less than I did in middle school) and we got the approval to move forward.

I found out Friday, April 30th, that I report to the clinic on May 4th and begin in-patient chemotherapy Northside Hospital in Atlanta on May 5th. The house and pet sitters are booked. The plans are made. Our faith is in God and the skills he has given the doctors at what is reasonably considered one of the top transplant centers in the country.

Please keep us in your prayers. We will be trying to post regular updates to keep everyone informed as we undertake this Epic Adventure.

Five Tips for Self-Quarantine

As we are well into the second week of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and self-isolation, most people I know are starting to go a little stir crazy. It’s difficult. It’s scary. The world has never been like this in our lifetimes. And most of us that take it seriously are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

This is something cancer patients and others who are immuno-compromised individuals deal with on a regular basis. I’ve had several month long periods of self-isolation, and would like to offer some tips on how to handle the mental toll of being isolated. 

Continue reading

A Season of New Beginnings

They say the first of the year is a time for new beginnings. Well, for me, that day seems to be today. There are so many new things happening, it is difficult to wrap my head around it, but it is a season of incredible opportunities.

I’m teaching, again

Daniel sitting with his cat, Donnie, on his chest.
This is my first day of class picture. I never thought I’d be teaching in a t-shirt, but that’s the joy of online learning. Also, my teaching assistant, Donnie, insisted on being in the shot.

First, I am officially an assistant professor again. I had taught for Georgia Military College for six years prior to having to step down in March of 2016. And while I still am not able to teach in person, today is the first day of my class for GMC Online. It is very different, but I am also very excited.

It’s quite a time to be teaching an intro to American government course. For the third time in history, the President is facing a Senate trial following an impeachment. The powder keg that is the middle east is a little more explosive than normal. Not to mention, the presidential election is heating with the primaries starting in the next few weeks. Not to mention since I’m in Georgia, it’s the second Monday in January.

Georgia General Assembly

Northern corner of the Georgia State Capitol with a statue of John Brown Gordon, a Civil War General, on horseback in the foreground.
The Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Statues on this side of the building include Gen. Gordon, seen on horseback, and President Jimmy Carter, near the building wall.

At 10 o’clock this morning, the Georgia General Assembly was gaveled into session. For the next 40 legislative days, they will decide the state’s budget and hundreds of other bills and resolutions. It’s organized chaos, and I miss it terribly. They have some big issues this year.

The anticipated revenue is down, so budget cuts will be necessary. Obviously, these are always unwelcome. Some state agencies have already instituted hiring freezes in preparation. One way they are looking at improving revenue is the expansion of gambling in the state. This will have strong opposition I’m sure, just as the state lottery did when it was authorized in the early 1990s.

Beyond the budget, the AJC also predicts there will be a push for a change in seat belt requirements (currently, they are not required for adults in the back seat). Healthcare and education are always huge issues. Governor Kemp’s campaign pledge to increase teacher pay will be at odds with up to a 6% cut in the rest of the budget. And of course, there will be plenty of partisan grandstanding.

It’s an election year, so both sides will be playing to their base. SB 281 was pre-filed for the session and bans semi-automatic weapons and magazines that hold more than ten rounds. Meanwhile, SB 224 removes places of worship from the prohibited places list for concealed carry. It also changes the language regarding carrying in courthouses and courtrooms. Likewise, there are bills to ban transgender youth from participating in sports as their presenting gender and that make it a felony for a physician to perform gender reassignment therapies or surgery. Yet, HB 426 is awaiting action in the Senate, which would include gender and sexual orientation as criteria for hate crime enhancements.

A new opportunity

Finally, and perhaps the biggest thing for me personally, is something that I have wanted to do for years, but always seemed a bit beyond reach. But I’m proud to say, it has finally happened. Over the weekend, I accepted a position as a board member for a new charter school. There will be more details forthcoming, but it is an amazing opportunity to be able to influence the education of multitudes of students in the coming years. Lifelong learning has always been important to me, but my work has always focused on college and adult learning. Now, I will be able to be involved with K-12 education as well.

Needless to say, the future is looking bright. I am still dealing with the effects of cancer, but this is a chance for me to be involved and make a hopefully huge impact on future generations.

So are we purple, or…

We’ve reached the end of election week, and basically everyone is disappointed. Republicans lost the house. Democrats failed to get the Senate. Here in Georgia, Republicans lost seats in both the State House and the State Senate, but maintained control. Meanwhile, there are two statewide seats going to a runoff and the not so simple matter of the governorship.

Yes, THAT race. The one where the Brian Kemp (R) has declared victory and that Stacy Abrams (D) is vowing to take to court to make sure every vote is counted. The one that is less than 13,000 votes from needing a runoff. That’s 0.33% of the vote total. It doesn’t get much closer than that. I’m having flashbacks to Bush v. Gore in 2000.

But the question remains, “Where do we go from here?” I had friends working on both sides. I have concurrently been mocked for being both conservative and liberal. In an era where people are more divided than ever, how do we function in a divided government?

To any elected official who may be reading this… Remember that you were elected to govern. Don’t let good ideas die because they came from the other side of the aisle. Represent your district, not your party. Work together on areas where there is common ground to get needed changes made. Immigration is more than just building a wall. Healthcare is more than the Affordable Care Act. We have rural areas of this state without basic infrastructure like high speed internet which is the key to education, technology, and being able to start a small business. Not to mention hospitals closing throughout the rural areas. I’m lucky to live near a hospital now. But people in the surrounding counties aren’t so lucky. Work to address these issues in a practical, achievable way.  And don’t forget about south Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and everywhere else IN THIS COUNTRY that are struggling to rebuild after major natural disasters.

To my friends who were fired up and working for this election: do not despair if your candidate lost. To the victors, don’t gloat. Your victory means nothing if your candidate makes a fool of themselves in office, or if the government is in worse condition at the end of their term than when they took office. Be an activist. Lobby for your views. Make sure your elected officials (and their staff) know your name. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can still let them know your views in a rational and professional manner.

But even more importantly, do YOUR part to make your community a better place. Volunteer for different projects. Locally, I’ll be happy to put you in touch with different non-profits who would love some extra help. You drove people to the polls? How about driving cancer patients to treatment? Instead of asking people to vote, get a group together and clean up a park on weekend. Don’t leave it to the elected officials. Do your part to make your community better.

We have at least two years of divided government. During that time, let’s start identifying as Georgians and Americans again instead of Republicans and Democrats.

Photos from Jekyll Island

Here’s some photos from our recent visit to Jekyll Island.