Yawning cartoonI’ve been a bit sporadic in writing posts. The last few days I’ve gotten real tired, well more like exhausted. I’ve been fine in the morning and early afternoon but by 5pm I’ve had it.

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a whiny, downer post. It takes too much energy to complain. (That was a subtle sick guy joke by the way.)

It’s kinda strange, this tiredness. I went to bed at 6:45pm today because I was too wiped to stay up, yet here I am at midnight wide awake. I don’t know for sure if it is Leuk doing this to me or if my circadian rhythms are off. I prefer to think it’s the latter.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about this tired feeling leukemia can bring on and how we should react to it.

I know many of you are worse off than me in your battles with exhaustion. I’ve been pretty lucky so far. I’m a part-time, well very part-time, writer/photographer and today was a pretty productive day. I finished up processing some photos for a client and got some writing done on my book. But about 4 o’clock it hit. You’d think I had run a marathon.

So what do we do when our day gets cut short? We could get angry I suppose but what good would that do; anger really does sap our energy. We could yell at God, but sometimes we don’t have the energy it takes to raise our voice. Or, we could just give up.

Well, in my ever-to-be-humble opinion, I think we should accept it but not give into it. I know that sounds like an oxymoron; acceptance and giving in sound like the same thing, but they’re not.

You can’t really fight something unless you recognize it’s there. Suppose there’s been a rash of burglaries in your area. You could stick your head in the sand and ignore it or you could accept that it is real and do something about it – like start a neighborhood watch program for instance.

Some people on your block might give into a double whammy: accept the problem and give up. But you are different. You stick to the single ‘whammy’: accepting that it is real but not letting it stop you from trying to fix the problem.

So, I could sit and groan and accept defeat, or I could just accept that Leuk can be a pain in the ass sometimes and go on believing I can beat him despite any symptoms he might throw at me.

I guess I’m starting to ramble here. After all it is nearly 1am now and I feel coherent thought leaving me. I think I’ll go back to bed, lie there wide awake and accept that I will be tired tomorrow. But I’m for sure not going to let Leuk win in the long run.

Good night all.

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cat and dogThis has nothing to do with leukemia. If you’re a long-time reader you know that many of my posts are just about my thoughts on life.

Well, this ones about cats and dogs. Specifically why I think dogs are the best.

There’s an old joke that goes like this: a dog looks at his owner and says, “he feeds me, shelters me, and loves me… he must be God.” A cat looks at his owner and says “he feeds me, shelters me, and loves me… I must be God.”

When you come home your dog acts like you’ve been gone a week. His ears perk up and he wags his tail so fast you think it might fall off. It’s like your daily arrival home is the major event in his life: “Master, master, you’re home! I’ve missed you so much. Where have you been? I love you, I love you, I love you. Oh, I hope you’ll pat my head and feed me now. You’re the best!”

You come home to your cat and it’s like, “So where the hell have you been? If you think I’m jumping out of this chair and coming over there you’re sadly mistaken. I couldn’t care less that you’ve finally managed to drag your fat ass home. Okay, I guess I’ll rub up against your leg but I only put on this act to get you to feed me. Feed my now or I’ll scratch you. Humans are so stupid and boring.”

And just try calling your cat. You say, “Here kitty kitty,” the cat says, “Let’s see, I can probably fit you in on Thursday, but today you’re out’a luck.”

Call your dog and he comes running. You whistle and call, “here boy, here boy” and he bounds over. “Oh my god, he’s calling me! My master actually wants to talk to me. Oh, I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful owner. Pant, pant, pant… I’m coming! I love you, I love you, I love you!

Now admit it. You know this is all true.

I bet the first word that comes to your mind when I say ‘dog’ is “Loyal”.

The first word for cat? … “Snob”.

Sorry cat owners, but from my perspective dogs really are man’s best friend. Cats? Well you don’t really own them… they own you.

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Blood test results for June 2016

Click on above image to see at full size

Well, the numbers for my most current blood test are a bit better. All my counts have fluctuated up and down but stayed at a relative plateau since November of 2013. That’s good news.

I’m hoping I’m right about attributing this flattening out to the lowered stress in my life (see my “Leuk and stress” post). Whatever the cause, I’m glad that, at least for now, I’m staying steady.

For more info and a larger, more readable chart, see my Score Card page

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Note: This post is based on my own feelings about the relationship between stress and leukemia. The very fact that it is based on my opinion means it is not scientific. I can’t say for sure that there is any link between Leuk and high stress levels, in fact even with all the studies no one is certain.

Except for a run of flu episodes during my teenage years, I have enjoyed good health throughout most of my life. That changed in September of 2009 when Leuk first showed up.

Prior to being diagnosed with leukemia I was under intense stress for several years. In fact it was non-stop from 2001 through 2008 with a couple more years of ‘coming down’ afterwards. I don’t want to go into my personal life here and tell the actual causes of that stress but I can use two symptoms to indicate just how bad it was.

Blood pressure: My blood pressure is very good, usually about 110/68, sometimes 106/67. But during a particularly hard time it shot up to 130.

Intestinal issue: In 2008 my small intestine tied itself in a knot. That isn’t the medical term but that is essentially what happened. The pain felt like I’d been stabbed with a knife. It could have been life threatening and I had to have surgery to take care of it. The doctor commented that it was unusual for a man of my age and health to have such a problem. He usually saw it in patients who had had previous surgeries on their intestines.

Leuk arrived just over a year after in 2009. From my perspective the link is indisputable.

It has been shown that stress can suppress the immune system. But does a weaker immune system lead to cancer? Well, there is no conclusive evidence. You can find research that argues for and against it.

All I can say is I was very healthy before Leuk arrived. But then, after enduring eight hard years of constant, 24 hour, oppressive stress he came knocking.

I also have evidence of a more positive nature. If you look at my blood test history (see Score Card page), you will see a constant increase in white blood cell and lymphocyte counts, but over the last few  years those numbers have leveled out – going up and down but not continuing the steady climb of previous years.This follows almost exactly the time period when I finally was recovering from those dark years. I have continued to gradually let go of that time and now live a much more peaceful life.

So. I plan to start going to bed earlier and getting up before everyone else for a few minutes to meditate. Not any religious or ‘New Agey’ crap, but simple sitting, relaxing, and clearing my mind. We’ll see how it goes. Besides, even if stress had nothing to do with my leukemia, keeping myself more relaxed will have a positive effect on the quality of my life.

Here’s some links on the subject you might be interested in: Effect of Stress on Blood Cancers, Cancer Related Insomnia, Psychological Stress and Cancer, Do Stress Responses Promote Leukemia?, Meditation for People with Cancer, Massage Therapy for People with Cancer, Yoga for Cancer Patients.

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Yesterday a woman tied a weighted bag to her body and jumped in the bay. She had kids and a loving husband.

Now before I go any further I should say she apparently was bipolar. This, of course, contributed to her suicide and I don’t mean to ignore the difficulties people with the disease go through.

But it hits me how sad it is that someone would throw her life away when so many others are fighting to save theirs. My readers have leukemia. Some, like myself, are doing alright but many others are fighting the fear, anguish, and, yes, depression that comes with battling any cancer.

And it’s not just us. Think of the millions with heart disease, emphysema, breast cancer, lung cancer, and a myriad of other potentially terminal diseases.

I mean, she needed therapy and medications for sure, but she wasn’t having chemo or radiation therapy. Her hair wasn’t falling out. Her body wasn’t losing it’s ability to fight off infections. She didn’t have a tumor in her lungs, or a withering valve in her heart.

Her body was healthy.

There is something terribly wrong and very selfish about suicide. Sure, her pain is gone. But what about her husband, children, family, friends? Now they have to carry the burden of their loss.

I’m told they tried to keep her safe and even kept the car keys away from her. But she rummaged around, found a spare key, and drove off with the express purpose of drowning herself.

If I sound a little torqued off, I am. Life is a precious privilege; an invaluable jewel we are given to protect. But she tossed this jewel in 60 feet of saltwater as if it were worthless costume jewelry that you wear one day and throw away the next.

If any of you are considering a similar fate please, please rethink. Get help. Surround yourself with family and friends. Look into their eyes and imagine what you would be doing to them.

Fight Leuk. Fight him. Do not give in. Have hope in your recovery and if it looks like recovery is not going to happen, savor your days with your loved ones. Glory in every gleaming facet of the jewel you’ve been given. Don’t do Leuk’s work for him. Resolve to beat him or die trying.

When someone dies, people say ‘he lost his battle with cancer’. But I don’t believe that. You only lose when you stop trying; when you give up hope. You only really lose if you say ‘To hell with everyone else’ and take that precious jewel of yours and jump in the bay.

Take care you guys.

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