We made the distance!!

On Saturday, March 31, my wife JoAnn, and I along with my sister Sheri and her family, walked what was supposed to be a 5K walk for the American Liver Foundation’s Liver Life Walk. Due to some questionable signage (or just flat out mischief) our route was changed without notice and we ended up walking about twice that amount. It didn’t hurt us, but we were TIRED at the end. (over half the walkers at the event got suckered in to this trick)

At any rate, it was worth it. We raised, as a coalition, over $90K for the American Liver Foundation. My group exceeded our goal of $1500, thanks to my generous donors.

I will put a slide show up, as soon as I collect all the pictures, but in the meantime, here is the money shot!

The Finish line (finally!)

Better Week!

Today, I went to have my usual bloodletting ceremony, and while I was at the lab, I was allowed a look at some results that had not gone to the doctor, yet.

My Hep C viral load is “UNDETECTABLE”! I asked my PA what that meant (of course I know what it means, but I was playing dumb) She said it means “AWESOME…NEGATIVE VIRAL COUNT!” So I asked if that meant “winning” and she responded with “WINNING :-)”

So, The chemo is working and the discomfort is worth it. I will stay on the meds for at least 10 more months, just to be sure it’s all gone, but I should be able to donate organs and blood at some point within the next year!

God has blessed us with everything, including a great medical team.

Look out world. I’m BAACK! (and real happy)

Good week.

I am employed! (albeit part time). I am doing something with my time that interests me and pays a few bills. I start on Monday at St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute as a Research Sonographer.

I had my lab work drawn today to see if, in fact, the meds have continued to do their magic. In a week or so, we should get the results and are counting on receiving a negative number (that is, non detectable). The only real issue I have is an upper respiratory infection that I cannot seem to shake. Starting on some meds for that, tonight.

Yes… Life is GOOD!

Thank you, God.

WINNING!

It’s been a long, crooked, hard row I’ve been plowing, but as I just told my sister, I obtained an internal combustion powered tractor, and now that row is straightening out, and the plowing is getting easier and straighter!

What?!

A little history.  My Hepatitis C caused my liver disease, which inturn caused me to need a transplant.  I was never able to shed the HCV, so the new liver was infected almost immediately and in less than 1 year, it was at the early stages of cirrhosis. Everything that I have been through for the last 10 years has been to buy time for a new drug (in this case, Incivek – or teleprivir) to fight the virus. I started the treatments 3 weeks ago.  My viral load count was at 2,058, 000. (it’s NEVER been below 800,000) Our goal was to lower the count to 1000 by the end of 30 days, and if that was achieved, then the treatment was working and we would continue fo 11 months to assure complete remission.

Yesterday, I got my 15 day check results.  My count is 475. Period. It’s working! The chances are that this treatment will set me free from that nasty little bug.  If this is achieved, the liver damage STOPS and it can start to repair itself. Meaning I WILL get to see my grandson, and others, grow up!

God (my Creator), Jesus (my Savior), my family, my friends, my medical team, and the American Liver Foundation have everything to do with this success!

Please sponsor me in my efforts to raise funds for the American Liver Foundation Life Walk on March 31.  Go to this website to make a donation online.  

You may be saving the life of a family member, or one of your best friends! It is a worthwhile project and a good investment.

Thanks!

A little information…

Liver in body

The liver is a vital organ that performs a wide variety of critical life sustaining functions. Your liver processes everything you eat, drink, breathe, and absorb through your skin. It helps break food down into essential nutrients for energy and filters out harmful substances from your blood.

Unfortunately, 30 million Americans are personally affected by liver disease. Nearly 100 liver diseases affect men, women, and children of every age and ethnicity from every social and economic background.

Statistics on the prevalence of liver disease are startling–

  • Up to 5.4 million Americans have chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection. About 65% and 75% of the infected populations are unaware that they are infected with HBV and HCV, respectively.
  • Up to 25% of Americans may have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that can cause life-threatening liver damage.
  • Primary liver cancer is one of the few cancers on the rise in the United States.
  • Chronic liver disease/cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. Liver disease is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States between the ages of 45 and 54 years.

Many liver diseases are preventable or reversible and nearly all are less expensive to treat if detected early. This is why education and awareness, provided by the American Liver Foundation®, are so important.

Because eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly help the liver to work well, the Liver Life Challenge endurance training program helps participants to improve their personal liver health. At the same time, the fundraising efforts of Liver Life Challenge team members enable the American Liver Foundation to provide life-saving research, education, support, and advocacy to those in need.

Week 3…

My medications are all at max levels, now, and so far… I’m tolerating it. Well, kind of.  My white cells are way down, so I now have to take Neupogen to cause my body to manufacture white blood cells (for immunity).  And now, the red cells are taking a dive, so we will have to start the procrit to stimulate red blood cell production (for oxygen transport, etc). I have been running a low grade temperature since Saturday, but that is just one of the normal noises around here, so I’m still on for a start date of March 5th for my new job, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I will be walking in the Liver Life Walk in Houston (March 31st) for the American Liver Foundation.  I need sponsors. If you are so inclined to donate, please visit this website to learn more and to make a donation. You will be helping a lot more people than just me ( because I hope to be Hep C free in 11 months!!)  If you want to walk with us… visit theteam page and click on the Join Team link above the member names.  Its not a marathon, but a nice walk through a beautiful park along Memorial Drive in Houston.

Ready to walk...

I'm ready to walk... How about YOU?

Week 2

I made it through week 1, although not totally unscathed.  I have had a severe headache since BEFORE I started the therapy.  It has gotten increasingly worse, to the point where I can barely come out from under the covers. Additionally, I have moderate to severe tremors, fluid retention and a general overall malaise. I finally had ENOUGH and called my doc.  It appears that these symptoms are not side effects of the therapy drugs, per se, nor or they related to “flu” or allergies.  I am overdosed on cyclosporine (my anti rejection agent) No, not intentionally, but this is one of the things that happens with the telepravir… it increases the blood serum levels of the cyclo- (or tacrolimus, which I no longer take). We knew there would possibly be some adjustments necessary, but that is what the every other day labs are about.  We caught it on Friday.  So this issue is under control for now.  The solution is simple.  Don’t take my cyclo every day… we will start with every third day and then adjust from there. Oh, and my labs are looking pretty good so far.  No need for transfusions or neupogen yet. (I must be getting tougher… HA HA!!)

All of which is good news, since I can start feeling better now.

Which is good news because my first day at St Luke’s/Texas Heart Institute is next Monday. It’s a part time research position that will last for about 1 to 1.5 years.  It’s a really good and interesting study. I will be working with some of my best friends and I am really excited for the opportunity.

My prayers today are for Terri Hale and her family as they await results of her biopsy, and for me that I have the strength to carry through with this new position during the next 11 months of therapy.

And that’s all for now, folks!

Day 1 and counting…

I started my triple therapy treatments today.
For the last two weeks, I was switching my anti rejection drug from prograf to cyclosporine and getting a serum level to work with before the other medications were added.  My level is good, but we made a preemptive cut in dosage, since we expect the levels to rise rapidly with the introduction of telepravir. My blood counts are low, but tolerable at this time, so we won’t worry about neupogen (to increase white blood cells), procrit (to increase red blood cells) or transfusions (for anemia) till next week.  I am set up for blood work three times a week to monitor all of this. (they said they would do pediatric draws so as to not further the anmemia…. I always wondered if having that much blood drawn was detrimental… I guess it is, in fact)
I started the treatments about 1 hour ago and I already have that old familiar feeling of “the Flu”. Nothing from the telepravir, yet.
I am prepared for the side effects which are (combined) migraines, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and bone aches and pains, rash, anemia, impaired immune system, shortness of breath, fatigue and depression.  From experience, I know I will suffer at least 3/4 of these.  (I am already on antidepressant so I’m not to worried about that.)
God is in charge and he has provided excellent health care providers for me, so I feel confident that I will weather this season.
The first 30 days will determine the course of treatment.  If we have a good response in the first month, then we will continue for an additional 11 months, and be rid of the beast.  If we have a negative response at the end of thirty days, we stop treatment.
So, prayers are need for a positive outcome, and for me to have the strength to take this therapy.  Also, prayers for my family, who will have to deal with me in this state for the next year.
I’ll keep you posted!

2012…. Are You Scared, Yet?

OK, folks… it’s here. The dreaded year 2012.  So what’s it going to bring? Any ideas out there?

I personally think there are going to be some BIG changes.

First of all, to my heath.  (for the better, at the cost of being puny for several months)  I start my new Triple component chemo this week, and we are all hoping and praying that it will be the last attack on the Hep C virus I have been plagued with for the past decade.

Secondly, this country HAS to change course if we are to remain the “home of the Brave and the land of the FREE”. It comesn to some deep assessment of personal liberties (or lack thereof) and a determination by each individual to do the right thing for themselves, their family and their country.  We have to quit selecting leaders based on Hollywood Marketing and Slick Delivery of doublespeak. This is not about Democrats vs Republicans… rather it is about RIGHT and WRONG.  It is about our Constitution. It is about Freedom, (especially freedom OF religion… not freedom FROM religion). It is about JOBS (not government jobs) It is about securing our borders (from ILLEGAL immigration, not from LEGAL immigration). It is about CAPITALISM and the right of EVERY human to grow to their fullest potential…not to be held as a slave to big government programs. These changes are about BEING AMERICANS!  States rights… small federal government with LIMITED power.  After all, they work for US… we can Hire and Fire at will.  We have to quit being SHEEPLE and do our duty.  That means study the situation, study the candidates (and incumbents) and change our employees as need by VOTING!!!

I also foresee a great year in that I’m about 3.5 months from meeting my first grandson! I am really pumped up about this! Looks like I will be spending a lot of time in Austin.  It’s OK.  Waylon needs to be with his Papa! A lot!

I’m baaack!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written or posted anything.  I’ve been busy.

I have pretty much recovered from all the surgeries, to the point that I almost feel normal.

I felt good enough at the end of October to accept an invitation to go down to South Texas to the hunting lease I was a member for many years.  It was an incredible experience: 4 days with all of my old friends.  A cold front blew in and the weather was mild to chilly. Hunting was “so-so”, but the fellowship was extraordinary, and so was the food. (we never skimped on meals at the lease)

I’ve been hunting with this group since 1990:

da boyz

We came to shoot...

So it’s now December and there’s a lot going on around the home front.  My Mother-in-Law is in for a week, my ex-Sister-in-Law is in town for a few days, and my Brother-in-Law now lives in Houston.  We are all going to Austin tomorrow to watch my Daughter-in-Law graduate from UT with her Masters Degree in Nursing.  Then we drive back back to Houston where we will all attend a Texans game on Sunday.

I have 2 more hunting trips planned between now and February.  Then it’s time to get out the fishing gear and the kayak.

It’s good to have health and family!

How's that Hope and Change workin' out for you?

ma