June 12, 2002|


Let’s start from the beginning. A few weeks ago I celebrated my three-month transplant anniversary. According to protocol a few things were to happen. First, my diet restrictions were eased. No vendor hot dogs just yet, but I am allowed to eat just about anything else. Secondly my medications would taper down to just the bare essentials. Thirdly I would have to do a barrage of tests to see how the transplant was working. The first test was a CT Scan. It returned similar results from a month earlier. Nothing exciting. A few nodes here and there still showing up on the radar. The next test was the PET Scan. The PET Scan is the newest and most sensitive scan on the market. Basically it shows cellular activity. Cancer cells are identifiable by increased reproductive activity in an area of the body. Amazingly my PET Scan came out normal. My first reaction when Dr. Perales told me was ‘Define normal.’ ‘Normal,’ he said, ‘as in no cancerous activity.’ I was quite shocked. He didn’t know what to make of it either. My transplant is a relatively new procedure with few cases to compare against. He didn’t know if this was expected or not.

It is still great news. I never thought I would hear that news. ‘No cancerous activity.’ Golly. Anyway, in regards to the discrepancy between the CT Scan and PET Scan, from all of my medical learning, I deduced that those nodes are just scar tissue. I can’t really feel them like I used to. More importantly the pain is gone. It wasn’t till I started shooting hoops (of course I got reprimanded for it) that I realized I could run pain-free. No left leg pain. And the hips and groin area are pain-free also. Something’s working. Something’s working! Dang Billy may actually be doing some good beyond giving me hairy knees.

I still have some major issues to deal with. Don’t get too happy just yet there Sparky. Yesterday I had a colonoscopy. What a pain in the butt, literally. Haha! We are trying to see why I am having so much diarrhea. The prep work for the colonoscopy is just brutal. Clear liquid diet plus phospho-soda. The Nazis must have used such to make the Allies talk. Brutal.

I also have some major skin rash issues. My face looks like I am thirteen again. Acne galore. The rest of my bod is all dry and itchy. Tomorrow I see a dermatologist thankfully. Lastly I keep on losing poundage. I am below my junior high school weight now! Goodness!

“Oh, THAT Art!”

Saturday I went to see my friends Mike and Beth get married. Yep, it’s marriage season again. Interestingly, on three different occasions, three different members of Beth’s family met me and said the exact same thing, ‘Oh, THAT Art! You got a lot of people praying for you.’ The poor girls who I just met and was sitting with at our assigned table thought I was some celebrity. ‘Long story,’ I replied, ‘long story…’

It really hit home to me that night that there are so many people out there praying and thinking about me. They have no clue what I look like, what I act like, who I am. It’s mind-boggling to me. I think of the members of the Church of Rock in Youngstown. Since the church began two years ago, my name has been printed in their bulletin under the prayer requests column. I laugh thinking about the number of people who must wonder who I am and why I have been on that list for so long. But yet they pray.

Don’t take me off just yet. The PET Scan may have come back with amazing results, but there are still many prayers left to be said. I wince at the thought of how much rehabiliation I need to do this summer. I tried to jump and touch the backboard one day. It was fairly easy when I last tried three years ago. I must have jumped 5 inches off the ground. Arms flailing, not even coming close. It was so embarrassing. And it’s not only the physical, it’s also the mental and emotional work. My brain doesn’t work like it used to. My writing has slipped a bit, if you haven’t noticed. I can’t imagine going back to work. I doubt I would have the necessary mental stamina. Goodness. I still have far to go in the healing process. Very far to go.

So anyway, thank you for your many prayers and thoughts. You may know who I am. You may not. Thank you regardless. They are working. They are working.


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