I Could Go for a Biscuit About Now – A Significant Update

When we were kids, on Sunday mornings about once every couple of months, Mom would make bakin’ powder biscuits from scratch. She would begin before we were up and timed it so just before the aroma of the biscuits climbed the stairs to our rooms she would sit at the piano and play these hymns which signaled the coming treat. Then the single word command “Biscuits!” was followed by the sound of ten or twelve feet swiftly rushing down the stairs to gather under the kitchen table.

Hymns have always been part of my life. From the earliest moments of Sunday morning biscuits, to family devotions, to children’s choirs to college choirs and beyond, hymns are the mortar of a spiritual foundation.

In the trying times I often find comfort in the hymns of the faith. The rich soil of their language is solid ground upon which to regain a foothold and re-center. Do you ever go there?

I’m not talking about the “Look at me, You’ve got me feelin’ real good lately” show tunes that pass as worshipful today. (Sorry, I haven’t been able to make the switch.) Rather, I’m speaking of the meat and potatoes hymns served with hearty sauces and beefy words you can sink your brain into with rich chords that bind them to our hearts. Add in some gospel songs written with complete paragraphs and it’s there I find a higher ground.

When I checked in as a patient on the fifth floor of the cancer wing at the Cleveland Clinic in 1988, it was clear this area would be a set aside space for my lengthy stay. It was a highly restricted area. Visitors were carefully screened to reduce the possible risk of infecting the vulnerable patients. Every guest was special because they made it through the screening but mainly, as I was so far from home, each one brought the fragrant memory of my family and my young children whom I missed so much.

In that hospital room that would be home for the next seven weeks, I set up my props from home: photographs, a leather notebook, some books and my electronic keyboard. (I couldn’t play much but thought I could brush up on my chords to keep myself occupied. Turns out just laying in bed was a full-time job.) The nurse gave me a funny look when I brought in the keyboard. She wasn’t concerned the sound might bother other patients, she was worried about theft in this big city hospital. She warned me it would likely be stolen and maybe I should have the family take it home. “It’s OK,” I said. “You’re going to hear my mom play this thing and the music will be worth far more than the keyboard. I think I’ll keep it here.”

When Mom came to visit, to give Sue a break to return home to the children, I asked her to play some hymns while I was bed-fast. She’s amazing at the piano – she can arrange most any tune and play it masterfully by ear – no notes. Even today, at 87, it’s a remarkable thing to hear and to watch her cover all the keys. When she plays, the hymns become a part of you – it’s always been that way.

Now, in my hospital room in Cleveland, she started out at the keyboard with the volume turned very low so as not to disturb the other patients or evoke the smell of biscuits. “Louder, mom. Crank it up a bit,” I said. “I don’t want to bother the others, she replied.” “Mom,” I added, “I’ve been here for weeks. If I can listen to their vomiting all night long – they can listen to my hymns.” Mom became a favorite visitor on the floor as they loved her music and even sent requests to my room.

Having been on this medical merry-go-round for a number of years, I’ve been back to the hymns many times. Sue would often read them to me in the hospital room in Cleveland. Here’s a short sample of one written by Hank Spafford with music by Phil Bliss. It’s always been on the top ten list when I find myself near the bottom.

When Peace, Like a River Attends my Way
When Trials like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well it is well with my soul.

Well, tonight, I’m lost in the hymns again and I could go for a biscuit about now.

I received the one phone call for which I had been both hoping and dreading. Nurse Becky phoned and I heard the news in the tone of her voice before she finished her greeting. The report had just arrived and the viral load is climbing again.

On top of last week’s blood test to monitor my anemia, an HCV count was added ahead of the official one scheduled for late March and the numbers now reveal that the bad counts, once dropping dramatically, are climbing again. A few more weeks on the medicine won’t make a difference and Dr. Bacon is pulling me off the protocol. The stubborn virus won again.

During these few months when the virus count was dropping, my liver received some momentary relief from the steady assault of the virus. But for now, as the numbers climb again, we’ll get back in the waiting line that leads to the promise of the next drug to break the code and beat the virus.

Sue and I began this leg of the journey on November 30th last year. We’ve been through chemotherapy often enough that the emotional and physical routines are almost familiar though each one presents new challenges. As I reflect on this most recent chapter, I can’t say I know what new thing I’ve learned, but I can say I know what I know. And that is that in times of uncertainty and discomfort and illness and pain, that simple touch, the card, the call, the smile, the email, the blog comment, the “how ya doin?”, the “what can I do to help?” – each of these are His hands in my care. Sue and I are so grateful for the kindness of your many expressions of support. When you reach out to someone in need you may wonder if you said or did the right thing – You did.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I believe it was key in keeping me mentally tough against the potentially serious depression side effects of the medicine. The creative outlet and your kindness in checking in – over 5,000 hits on the site – gave me a sense of companionship and encouragement.

We’re fine. I’m going to take some time to rebuild my energy and muscles while dropping some recently accumulated “no activity” pounds. We’re looking forward to being out and about and on the road again in a few months. I’m looking forward to romping with the grand kids.

We are loved and you are loved. Thanks for your hand in the Master’s work – you’re good medicine!

In closing, here’s a treat for you. Just a few years back at a time Mom was visiting in our home, I was experimenting with connecting my computer to my electronic piano. The software would allow me to receive the input from the keyboard and alter it to then play back as any number of instruments and I could even print out sheet music of every note played.

I asked Mom if she would help by playing something on the keyboard as I tampered with the software. It was a spur of the moment request but she gladly obliged and sat down at an unfamiliar electronic keyboard. They have a different feel than a baby grand. Without a note she began to work through a list of some favorite hymns we share. I realize that when I hear these songs they are filtered through a lifetime of her caring for my coughs and sniffles, and scrapes and broken hearts but I think you’ll agree there is both a magic and a ministry in her touch.

Biscuits anyone?

Old Rugged Cross  (After clicking on each link you’ll need to click on the next link provided.)

No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Jesus Led Me All The Way

He Giveth More Grace

Fill my cup Lord

And He Walks With Me

There’s A Deep Settled Peace

Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm
In celestial like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm
Peace, peace, wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace
Buried deep in the heart of my soul
So secure that no power can mine it away
While the years of eternity roll!
I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day
And His glory is flooding my soul!
Peace, peace, wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

Whoofie! Revisited

You may recall the story “Whoofie!” written and posted back on December 12 during the early days of adapting to the medicines. Whoofie is a term from Sue’s side of the family to describe something over the top. I used it to describe some of the sensations and physical limitations caused by the powerful drugs – Whoofie!.

Lately, a number of those side effects have returned as I’m back on full dose and the hemoglobin counts have dropped to the lower end of the acceptable range. The last three days I’ve mostly stayed in the recliner. Whoofie!  I don’t have any of the nausea or flu-like symptoms I experienced early on in adapting to the new drugs but the anemia is very evident. Also, I’m finally starting to see some of the skin rashes that were anticipated. These are only slightly bothersome yet worth monitoring.

The cabin fever indicator is in the red and we’re hoping to venture out in the next few days if we can see a change for the better.

I may have written this brief piece for the sole purpose of posting this photograph of Norah which is one of my favorites. Photo by Sarah Ellis.

All Knees on Deck!

Sue and I appreciate your encouragement and the many expressions of prayer support we’ve received. Today we would ask that you pray in a specific way for these next few weeks.

My viral counts are dropping but they need to drop more in the next month. This is the measure of the bad virus still in my system. It’s dropped dramatically from the start – these are powerful medicines – but in order to stay in the program for the best chance for a cure I need to show counts under the 100,000 level in the next few weeks.

One of the traits of the HCV virus is its constant mutation. It can significantly change every couple of weeks and acquire new resistance capabilities. The medicine created to fight HCV is designed as a wide pattern shotgun blast in an effort to kill such a moving target. As I have one of the tougher strains of the virus it’s challenging the protocol but if we can get these numbers under the 100,000 mark the science indicates we are in the hunt to beat the virus. Now is the time.

I know there are many prayers on our behalf for endurance and for a cure and that is our prayer as well. But there are different ways of getting there. I can open the door today and step into the sun and be miraculously freed. Or, this medical treatment can run a successful course throughout the rest of this year. Or, it may be I just have to wait for the next development in the science of fighting HCV. As always, I remain in His care and timing.

People look at me and instinctively want to pray for my physical comfort and stamina and I appreciate the generous thought. But the outward physical condition you see is like a band-aid – it’s bothersome but in a few months I’ll remove it. You see the outward evidence of the powerful medicine at work in my system. That will pass. What you’re really praying for, however, is for what you can’t see – it’s the battle against the insidious ongoing effect of the virus. It’s almost a metaphor for evil. The silent, sometimes symptomless yet relentless effect of HCV is how it continually attacks the good.

Yes, my medical clock is ticking, the effects of HCV are detrimental and that’s a concern, but if I fail this treatment, I’ll regain my strength, return to active and productive status and get in the waiting line for the next miracle drug a couple of years away.

But I’m not ready to give up on this one!  Some of the people sitting with me in the waiting room are beating the virus with this breakthrough routine and while I have a stubborn strain of the virus, I can be cured as well.

My hand is raised. I’m doing the work. To date, I’ve taken 1,408 pills on a strict every-eight-hour schedule never missing the appointed hour by more than ten minutes which is well within the guidelines. I’ve given myself twelve injections and my legs have large red circles as proof. I’ve given about seven blood draws and quietly wish for a time that will likely never come when I might give my blood to someone who actually wants it.  But for now, it’s time for the science to show its stuff. Let’s play ball!

My friends, if you’re inclined to prayer (and you know who you are) – today you might offer a blessing for the miracle of the science and for the researchers and doctors behind it. I am grateful for their efforts. And then, get righteously mean and join the fight against the virus. Maybe today’s prayer is for healing outside of any scientific flow chart and I can certainly live with that. Simply pray as you are led.

Towards the end of March we’ll learn if we’re tracking toward a successful treatment or if statistically we are not going to be in the running this time. This is the time for All Knees to Be On Deck!  I am thankful for your many expressions of care and I appreciate your taking time to visit the blog today.

Alex and The Organ Donor Card

Here’s my handsome son, Alex, who joined my son-in-law and me on a hiking trip to the Great Smokey Mountains this past summer. Read to the end of this post for a story about Alex and the Organ Donor Card.

Liver Transplants

Probably one of the most consistent questions I get asked after “How ya doin'” is “Why don’t you just get a liver transplant?”

On its own, isn’t it amazing people think of organ transplants as an everyday fact of life. Medical science has made amazing advancements in recent decades. Can you recall the first heart transplant in 1967 by South African Dr. Christiaan Barnard? As a thirteen year old I was amazed at both the science and by people’s reaction to transplanting what was considered the most sacred human organ. Today, organ transplants retain their breathtaking mystery but are readily seen as another medical solution.

Liver transplants are complicated procedures involving operations taking up to 12 hours. The critical organ which is the size of a half of a football presents a unique difference from other organs as the liver is the only major organ that can regenerate itself. This presents the patient the option of receiving either a transplanted organ from a brain-dead person or receiving a partial liver transplant from a living donor. While the latter presents many risks to be weighed by both the donor and the donee, for each person the partial liver will re-grow to its original size.

There are currently 16,000 people on the waiting list for a donated liver. In 2008, 6318 liver transplants were performed. As there are not enough donated livers to go around a national scoring system was created which takes in to consideration a patient’s condition, blood type, age, support system, and his or her likelihood of surviving the next 90 days without a transplant. Obviously, with a three-month window of life as a criteria, a person has to be in bad shape to hope to get moved up the list. One out of ten people die on the waiting list. People with advancing liver issues but still fully functional like me are a long way from getting on a liver transplant list, however, we continue to monitor issue with an increased interest in organ donor programs.

I recall reading an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch about six years ago which detailed the numbers game of liver donation in the St. Louis area. The story detailed the logistics of getting a candidate liver to an actual recipient in a St. Louis hospital. The screens started filtering by the odds of first finding a person who is brain-dead but living after, most likely, an auto accident. The next screen is if this person had previously designated to be an organ donor. Then the funnel of potential livers significantly reduces with being able to get that person’s body to a donation hospital soon enough to be still alive yet brain-dead in order to remain a viable donor. (A person awaiting a liver transplant has already agreed to reside within a limited number of hours of the transplantation hospital.) Then the proper match has to be determined: blood types, scoring system, probability of surviving the operation, etc. The funnel reduces again. And finally, in what was the most startling bit of information about available livers, the family of the brain-dead person has the right to override the dying person’s organ donor wishes. It’s at this point the funnel greatly reduces as families, likely distraught from the recent accident, cannot process through the grief to allow their loved one to serve as donor. It was a disheartening look at the numbers of organ donations. I would encourage everyone to sign an organ donor card, display the designation proudly on your driver’s license and most importantly, tell your family members of your desire to serve through the final gift of your body so that others may receive the gift of sight or extended lives.

Now for a quick story about Alex and the Organ Donor Card.

For many years, until I was diagnosed with the virus, I readily signed an organ donor card when I registered for my driver’s license. I would encourage you to consider serving others by doing the same.

After Alex turned 16 the day finally arrived when he could sign up for a driver’s license at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. (No, he didn’t dress in a tux to go to the BMV but here he is on prom night 2004)

As we waited in line for our turn to attempt to get a smile from one of the clerks, I noticed a poster promoting organ donation. After scanning the limited words of the message and being comfortable with the way it presented the idea I leaned over to Alex, gestured to the poster and quietly said “Alex, you ought to seriously consider being an organ donor. Give it some thought. You’ll have opportunity to sign-up in a few minutes.”

Hiking on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland

Alex is a very thoughtful person – he thinks through each issue with serious care. He didn’t say much but read the poster as I watched his eyes search his brain to process the proposal. We continued our wait.

At our turn to meet the clerk I smiled warmly and took a seat. After receiving the forms to complete I told her we would also like a form for becoming an organ donor as it was under consideration.

We stepped away from her desk and moved to a work table with the paperwork. Alex remained quiet as I worked through the forms and he studied the organ donor poster. When I completed my work, I turned to him and said in a low tone (he doesn’t like any attention drawn to him in public), “So, Alex, are you ready to sign the organ donor card. I think it’s a noble idea.”

Walking the boardwalk near Lincoln

I was a bit frustrated by his pause. The matter hits home with me and I know what this could mean to the many persons who are in the situation I may someday find myself. Oh, the ultimate selflessness of the gesture. What’s the matter here?

Alex continued to process the issue. My first thought was to take offense at what I perceived to be selfishness. How could one, upon being declared brain-dead, not want to give this final measure of devotion to his fellow man?

It was time to return to the clerk. “So, Alex, what do you think?” After another moment he replied, “Sure, I’ll sign it.”

But now here’s the real story.

I thanked him and took the form and then said, “If you don’t mind me asking . . . I couldn’t help but notice that you took some time to decide. What was the toughest part of making that decision?” He said, “I just had to work through the scenario of getting the call one day.”

I was speechless. He believed he had just signed up for a lottery and that one day the phone would ring and the State Police voice would say, “Mr. Tidball, you’re number came up and we need your heart today.”

I was humbled by his ultimate selflessness which far surpassed my brain-dead nobleness to give away what I no longer possessed. His young mind had weighed giving his life for another.

I gave him a hug and held back the tears. Who’s getting a lesson today?

I quickly explained the way the program works and discussed the brain-dead situation that would have to first occur. He relaxed but the grandeur of his willingness to sacrifice had already been displayed. Remember Alex the next time you have opportunity to become an organ donor. Forms and smiles are available today at a BMV near you.

Cross Country Days

“Bonnie! I’m not producing!”

December 21 – Wednesday

The primary costs in the fight against HCV are the cost of treatment and the cost of lost productivity due to the debilitating side effects of the treatment. The Hepatitis C virus which affects nearly four million Americans is often referred to as the Baby Boomer’s disease. Researchers note the increase in discovered infections correlates with the age bubble of those born between 1946 and 1964.

It is estimated that 78% of those infected are not aware they have the virus. The few symptoms and the often slow-progressing related diseases caused by HCV can go undetected for years. While the number of new infections is declining due to blood screening developed in 1989, the Baby Boomer generation is reporting increased discovery of the virus.

Those being treated are usually in their highest economic productive years and thus the costs of lost productivity is added to the increasing costs of treatment. With 78% undiagnosed it is likely the huge cost of future treatments will eventually fall on the Medicare program due to the aging Baby Boomers. The estimated hundreds of billions of additional annual costs for treatment will further challenge the government program.

While these are the two primary costs I would suggest there’s a third productivity cost but this one doesn’t carry a dollar sign. It’s no secret the side effects of the interferon based treatments are very limiting and the subsequent loss of personal productivity over the extended treatment period also has an effect on the patient. Here’s a story on personal productivity.

It’s the start of Week Four with 42 to go.

The day started with momentum. One reason may be it’s the furthest day from the last interferon shot. After a good night’s sleep I was up at 7:30 for a bowl of Cream of Wheat – always a good sign.

One might expect after three weeks of treatment some predictable performance patterns would emerge. Isn’t it logical to expect if l rise at this hour I will feel a certain way until this time when such and such takes over. The pills and shots are regulated by times so why not the side effects? But this Wednesday again displayed the unpredictable nature of the medicine. There was a bit more energy than usual. So my first thought . . . I must get to the office!

I dressed casual and headed for town. Leigh, my business partner, was surprised to see me and glad for the company in the normally two person office. She’s been doing marvelous work coordinating contacts between clients and Home Office personnel who are dealing with issues in my absence. We got caught up on the news and I tended to a few papers and called a favorite client in Massachusetts.  I was getting stuff done.

As I spoke with the client, however, I noticed less strength in my voice. As we closed our conversation, the client also noticing a change, wished me well for the months ahead. I can tell I’m only going to be good for one call today. I finished up some online administrative matters while I gradually slumped towards the desk which was looking more and more like a recliner. Now I’m wondering if I can drive myself home. Leigh shooed me out and at the door I looked back wondering when I will return to that chair again. I didn’t accomplish anything significant today other than to accomplish something.

This treatment pace is an adjustment. I’ve never been good at relaxing – at taking it easy.  It’s not that I’m a work-a-holic and have to be at the office but I value my free time for other pursuits. I’ve always felt a desire to be creating, or processing, or assembling or developing. Even on vacation I want to be seeing, exploring, traversing or learning. I’ve never been drawn to a beach vacation . . . let’s see, you got the sand, the waves and the birds – what time is it now? Why this need to be doing? Maybe there’s a clue to be found in taking a look back.

Curt, Craig, Mom and Jana

When I was a kid, I looked forward with great anticipation to summer camping trips. Our family would join two other large families and all together we’d head to down to Kentucky Lake State Park or to Shakamak State Park in southern Indiana. Mom would coordinate the equipment logistics like NASA preparing for a space launch. There was the gear, the food, the clothing – enough for five or six days of tent camping with six, count ’em, six children. I would question if the same feat could even be accomplished today without the modern aids of prepackaged foods and specialized equipment. She worked miracles of creativity on a shoestring budget.

The older children packed their own suitcases which were a matched set of painted sturdy beer boxes which had been carefully procured and secreted into the house

Brentlingers, Tidballs, and Strahls camping

so as not to endorse the product or its consumption. These uniform crates would easily pack into the Apache pop-up camper designed to sleep four comfortably out of a family of eight.

On the afternoon of departure day we kids played with nervous anticipation for the moment Dad would rush home from work at the college, hitch up the trailer to the eight passenger little Ford Fairlane wagon and dash out of town. In one fluid motion we were loaded and moving down the highway.

I can remember a time when Dad set up the Apache pop-up still wearing his tie from work that day. It usually took three days for him to get out of college mode and into camping. He enjoyed evening visits with the other adults but it wasn’t until day three he was ready to take a hike or play some rough house games with the kids. He just couldn’t unwind from the office. And while he wasn’t in a commissioned position where his productivity was needed to produce income he simply had to be doing something for the greater good. His focus was always on our well-being but that of course was directly tied to the work. His demeanor was summed up one camping trip when on the afternoon of Day 2, he turned to Mom and said with animated frustration, “BONNIE!, I’m not producing!” It’s been the inside joke of our family for years.

One of the best trips for him had to be the one where just he and I left the group and went for a rowboat ride on Shakamak Lake. While teaching me some rowing techniques (no doubt learned during his Canadian Navy days) we came across a sunken rowboat floating a foot under water. After towing it ashore and making sure no one had reported it lost or stolen we hauled the damaged but repairable boat home on top of the Apache. He was money ahead for the trip. It was like golfing and ending the day with more found golf balls than when you started. Regardless of the cost of the round or your score you just felt ahead for the day. It was probably the best camping trip he ever had as it produced a net gain.

Dad has learned to relax better with subsequent trips (he’s at his best on family cruises) but the need for accomplishment is a habit that dies slowly. He’s always pursuing a witness for our Lord, promoting the college or comparing his family with any other grandfather who will stop for a conversation on the Lido Deck.

I recall when the two of us traveled to England on one of our genealogy trips. We landed at Heathrow got our bags and took the train downtown. At the station he made a bee line for the taxi stand. “Dad,” I called to him, “I just want you to know that since you’re retired now we’re going to take this at your pace . . . but please slow it down a step, will ya?”  Together, we accomplished a lot that trip.

These stories reflect the attribute of producing simply in return for the wondrous gift of life. I must share that same tendency and thus during this time of treatment see one of the unlisted side effects of the medicine to be the loss of ability to “produce” those things that are personally enriching.

It’s easy to tickle the keyboard while reclining and sense a bit of accomplishment in writing these stories but frustrating to have other usual functions just out of reach. I hope that eventually patterns will settle in where I can pace myself to pursue other interests in photography, computing, and writing.  I’m not complaining – just reporting in.  I’m grateful for the promise of wholeness to come.

But . . . “Sue!, I’m not producing!”

Pay it Forward

We tend to surround ourselves with good people. It’s only natural – we enjoy each others company. Among this number we count our closest friends.

It’s one thing to be friendly and pleasant and share comfortable companionship for years but when was the last time we verbalized the meaningfulness of the relationship? When was the last time we locked on to anothers eyes and spoke those qualities about them we most appreciate?  Maybe, being good friends . . .  it’s not necessary. Maybe the friendship bond is constantly and silently conveying the message for us. Could it be such a verbal gesture might tamper with a delicate balance . . . even change the relationship? Maybe it’s not worth the risk. Maybe.  But then, just maybe, there are times when a deliberate affirmation is worth the risk.

I received another non-medical dose for the cure this past week when a long time client called to take care of some year-end business. He had heard I was starting another round of treatments and expressed his sadness at the looming ordeal and spoke encouragement for the months ahead.

And then he gave me a compliment and I quickly thanked him for his kindness. And then he did it again . .  and again on another attribute. He listed those things he had observed in me over the years and had admired. And he hung on each statement with deliberate intention. I couldn’t blush my way out of it after the second time – he was piling on. I felt like the special guest of a This is Your Life show. I was instantly walking taller albeit in my new slightly slumped fashion.

Now, this is by no means a solicitation for a comment . . . that train has left the station, the cat’s out of the bag . . . I know who you are.  Rather, this is about your consideration to Pay it Forward to those in your circle. You and I are now on the alert for that situation where an affirmation of the next person we meet might just be better timed than we can imagine.

When the time is right, when the need is there, when your heart says go – be the medicine. Share a good word…. Charlie did for me.

Meet Dr. Bacon

I’ve just posted an update to the blog page “The Medical Team”.  If interested, take a moment to read this insightful interview with my lead physician, Dr. Bruce Bacon of St. Louis University Hospital.  Click this link to go to the page: Meet the Medical Team

A Visit to the Office

Wednesday – December 14

Today marks the start of week three.

I was determined to get to the office today to assist Leigh with some paperwork. In the process of getting ready, I quickly learned the cumulative physical drain the medicine is having on my strength. I’ve had to switch from blade shaving to the electric razor as I can’t stand long enough at the sink to wet shave but can sit to buzz my face.

I went to the closet but couldn’t find the pants I wanted to wear so I had to go sit down and rest a spell. I returned, found the pants, put them on then went to rest. Now it’s time to select a shirt which was made easier as I had already selected the pants color – grab the shirt, put it on, go sit down. On the next trip I did a two-fer and got my belt and my shoes. I sat down to put on my shoes but then I always do that. But after bending down to tie them it was time for a rest. Whoofie!

I made it to the office but have a feeling that my days of solo driving may become an issue before long. Once in the office I landed in the recliner moved in from the lobby for the anticipated rests I would need. Leigh’s comforter keeps me warm. We spent a few minutes going over pressing papers requiring signatures. Leigh’s a great business partner and gives me confidence in having to be out of the office so much.

A client stopped in for a visit and I moved to my desk to research some bonds of interest to him. It wasn’t long before I was back in the recliner as we wrapped up the visit. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return for other visits but the hour and a half visit to the office exhausted me.

The little medicine bottles of Norah and Will stopped by for a quick visit at home and gave me a boost. Their not knowing of Bobbo’s condition is refreshing and they just want to crawl on me and give hugs. Take Two Twice Daily until exhausted.

The afternoon found me dozing at length in my sitting room recliner with the XM Christmas channel playing quietly.

Sorry, Wrong Number

Wednesday, December 7.

Week Two began with an eye exam with Dr. Mark. My medical program planners wanted a baseline test of my retinas to compare at each end of the treatment year. Everything looks fine at the start and Dr. Mark said he is not aware of any bulletins siting issues with the drugs being used. He gave me a print of my retina scan shown on the right. Amazing stuff.

Dr. Mark and I shared a laugh about comedian Brian Regan’s bit about visiting the eye doctor.  Click here for a dose of levity – it’s about six minutes.  http://youtu.be/v8GMFkc3iSA

After the doctor visit and a conference at the office Sue Norah and Will by for a lunch date. Now there’s a test of endurance for anyone on treatments. While it can be tiring, there is nothing better than just being in the presence of happy little ones. It’s invigorating. We had a great time together at Culver’s Butter Burger Drive-in. One-year-old Will recreated the Bill Murray dinner scene from the film What about Bob? as he makes loud moans whenever food is put in front of him. The workmen at the table next to us were cracking up.

Once back at the office, I was beat. I tried a nap on the floor but it wasn’t comfortable so I ended up in Leigh’s photo in this position for a 45 minute rest. Got a lot done today but as you can see I have a way to go to see my desk.


Sorry, Wrong Number.

Experiencing simple joys.

I’ve been trying to get a prescription filled and have been getting the run around from the insurance company. My contact, Lena, at SLU is working the case for me. She left a message to call her back so late yesterday I dialed her number…

  • C: This is Craig calling – is this Lena?
  • D:  No, it’s Dena.
  • C:  Oh, sorry, I must have written that down wrong. Anyway, how are you today, Dena?
  • D:  Fine.
  • C:  I’m calling about the medication.
  • D:  Oh good!
  • C:  Have you heard anything yet?
  • D:  I’ve been waiting for your update.
  • C:  Well, actually, Dena, I was returning your call about the XYZ drug.
  • D:  XYZ? I thought it was supposed to be ABC.
  • C:  Excuse me, but is this Dena?
  • D:  Yes.
  • C:  Are you at St. Louis University Medical
  • D:  Yes. And I’ve been waiting for your call.
  • C:  Is this 555-234-5678?
  • D:  No, this is 555-234-5668
  • C:  Oh, I am terribly sorry. I was trying to connect with my nurse and mis-dialed a digit and when you said you were at SLU and mentioned a medication – I thought I was just having trouble communicating.
  • D: Oh, that’s funny. I’ve been waiting by the phone for my husband’s nurse to call with the ABC medicine that’s an anti-rejection medicine for his bone marrow transplant.
  • C: Bone Marrow Transplant!  I had one of those over 20 years ago. I’m here to tell you things are looking up for you two!
  • D: Oh, that’s amazing.  I’m so happy for you, Craig. That’s encouraging.
  • C: You’re on your way!
  • D: God has been giving us miracles and your wrong number has just been another hint that we’re turning the corner.  I’m so glad you dialed the wrong number.
  • C: Dena, or Lena, or whoever you are… you just made my day.  All the best to you and your husband and Merry Christmas.  You are in my prayers this day. Bye for now.
  • D:  Bye, Craig, call any time!