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April 16, 2004 DAY #171


Two weeks seems like too much time, sometimes between updates. I have lots of thoughts struggling for a means of expression. I decided to send out a "supplemental" update, to let some of these thoughts out. If I continue this in the future, these supplemental updates will not be about illness, so you don't have to worry about them when you see them.

Lots of things have happened since my last update. Two things happened on Wednesday. I got a call from the hospital with the latest results of blood type tests. My blood type has changed to O- from O+. I will have to be sure to get that changed on my military ID, which leads me to the second item of interest from Wednesday. I received my retirement orders from the Navy. I am ordered to join the Retired Reserve on May 1, 2004. When I got these orders, with a certificate suitable for framing, and a Letter of Appreciation from the President, I sat down and thought about my Navy career a little bit. There have been highs and lows, but as with most things, we remember mostly the highs. I joined the Navy when Carter was President. I have been in the Navy for 4 wars (Cold, Desert Storm, Terrorism, Iraq). I have done many things, and made many friends. The Navy has had a profound influence on my life. It was a bit sad to think about leaving something that has had such an impact behind me, but I can no longer maintain the required physical readiness to justify staying in. I am undeployable, so there is no reason to continue. That means I will need to get a new military ID card on May 1st, so I can change my blood type on the ID then.

Menchie and I went to City of Hope today. There were a couple of thousand people there. They were Bone Marrow Transplant survivors, donors, caretakers and families, along with doctors, nurses, and staff from City of Hope. Each transplantee wore a badge with the number of years they have survived. There was one person whose badge said 28 years! Today was the 28th reunion. There was one survivor at the first reunion. The most recent transplant was 2 months ago. Quite a few people had two badges! One man, who was with me in the Bone Marrow Unit had two transplants within 1 year. It was fun to see friends from the unit who were there at the same time I was. Some are doing well, others are having difficulties. We are all still fighting. We all grieve for those who didn't make it.

Dr. Phil (the TV Psychologist) was one of the keynote speakers. A couple of things stand out in my mind from his presentation that I would like to share. He talked about being a bone marrow donor. He said, "The decision to register with the National Bone Marrow Registry is a decision to save a life." I paraphrase, "For someone searching for meaning in their lives, what could be more meaningful than saving another." This was brought to life today, as 4 transplantees were introduced today to their donors for the first time in a special ceremony. Imagine, if you will, looking for the first time at the stranger who saved your life over a year before. I watched these strangers meet, with hugs and tears of joy. They walked, hand in hand, arm in arm for the rest of the day. There is a bond that transcends anything I know of short of parenthood. One of the donors was a young woman from South Africa. Her recipient's transplant was the first in the US with the donated cells shipped to the US from South Africa. Another case was a man from New York, and a woman donor from New Jersey. Neighbors, whose lives intersected in a hospital room in California!

There was a second speaker who was a transplant survivor, whose story was told on Dateline. He has been a regular speaker at meetings since his recovery. He said he struggled with what to say at this meeting though. Normally, he would just talk about his experience. But what could he tell this audience that they had not already lived through? He decided to talk about two people who experienced trials in their lives that can never be cured. It was an inspirational tale of a Nobel Prize winner who overcame childhood trauma in Nazi extermination camps, and a young man forever confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk except through a computer keyboard, who nevertheless looks forward to his full time job at a museum every day. When asked about his condition, his reply was that it was a "special and difficult blessing". The point of the speech was that, while our lives are difficult and our trials are hard, we can go beyond our trials, and live. For some, the trials will never end. We all have trials, some worse than others. It is not the severity of the trial that is important, it is the choices we make to deal with those trials. Be thankful if your trials can end before you die.

Thank you so much for listening! It is a great comfort to me, and hopefully is interesting to you.

Lab Results:

Lab Results

Blood Cell Type

Normal Low





WBC 4.5 4.5 4.9 4.4 nr
RBC 4.30 4.00 4.01 4.18 nr
HGB 13.9 13.2 13.4 13.8 nr
PLT 130 196 213 206 nr


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