FROM MY HEART!
The Quiet Ones.
You know who you are. You have been to my site once or more to see
how I am doing. You didn't feel right leaving a guest book entry
(and that's quite alright), but you thought about me, my struggle,
gave me some positive energy. Your link to me may be strong or
distant, but I want you to know that I felt your presence and I
needed it all. Thank you for being there.
Met. Strange how this works, but some visitors heard about me
from others, obviously took the time to read much of the site and
left a message to let me know they care. You are a special breed of
person and I hope I meet up with you some day.
The Past. I heard from people that I have not seen or talked
to in many, many years. I am not certain how they heard about me,
but they took the time to visit and leave a short note. Whether we
worked together or were competitors, lived in the same neighborhood,
went to school together or have just lost touch, I thank you for
making the effort to connect. It was a constant reminder of where I
come from and how much more I have to live for. I wish you all the
University. I cannot overestimate the the impact of St.
John's on my life. The incredible principles of community, caring,
sharing, friendship and spirituality have helped me throughout my
life, but they really came in handy during this time of need. I
heard from Abbott John, President Dietrich and Rob Culligan and John
Taylor numerous times during the past nine months and their words of
encouragement and prayers for me were heartfelt. In addition, my
fellow SJU alum friends kept in touch frequently, reminding me how
good that first beer will taste together!
Bakeries Family. I heard from many former employees as well
as current employees at DecoPac. I sincerely felt the presence of
the "baking family" as I heard from all of you. Your kind words
helped me reflect on my life in the bakery and the great friendships
that remain. A special thanks to my brother Mike, Amy, Rick, Shelly,
Pat, Bryon and Barb who have helped transition my bakery duties to
Buddies. Everyone enjoys a good laugh - especially me. Thanks
for keeping me in the loop when you read a good one. My doctors
reminded me that laughter is great medicine. Thanks for helping me
laugh when there wasn't too much to laugh about. Marty, Harry, Ed,
Terry, Tim, Rick, Ben, Lisa, Russ, Barb, Dick and Brian are just a
few of my best contributors.
Rather than all thirteen of you contacting me weekly for updates
(from what I understand), Marty acted as the main communications for
the club. Thank you to Marty for doing this - I really needed my
rest. In addition, a special thank you to Dick for excusing himself
from the December outing because of a cold - I still owe you dinner
for that one!
Special Friends. Deb and I received
tons of offers from our friends to help out in any way they could.
They all offered to make trips to Mayo for us and do anything else
we wanted. Some sent cards, some made a phone call or two. We did
not need much help, but we did have a couple short visits from the
Stockman's and Kupper's that helped brighten our spirits. Patti
Stockman helped Deb emotionally as Deb shared my daily progress with
her. On the home front, our dear friend Heather moved into our home
to care for the cats, sort mail, and manage the household. Without
her help, I don't know how we could have been away so long. Thank
My Relatives. My cousins, nieces and
nephews stayed in contact via my site for the duration. Their words
of encouragement meant so much! Their multiple guest book entries
(they dominate the site) made me feel like they were on my team and
sitting right in the hospital with me. I felt you always - thank you.
Deb's parents and siblings were supportive through their prayers,
phone calls and positive energy. Their kind words let me know I was
always on their minds. The phone
calls from my aunt Jeanne were always an unexpected surprise. And aunt
Peggy always asked about me as she was dealing with her own
struggles. God bless you all!
The Minneapolis Medical Team. On
September 21, 2004 I nearly collapsed getting out of the shower. I
saw Dr. Zavoral, a cardiac specialist that I was seeing for high
cholesterol. I credit Dr. Zavoral with knowing exactly what to do.
He ordered a series of blood tests, revealed I had low red and white
blood counts referred me to see a hematologist immediately. Dr.
Zavoral might have saved my life. I cannot thank him enough for his
medical knowledge and wisdom.
Nashawaty, my local hematologist, provided care to me right up to
going to Mayo for transplant. My first bone marrow biopsy was
negative for MDS, but he kept looking for the cause of my anemia.
After I was diagnosed in November, Dr. Nashawaty continued to
monitor my blood levels and provide transfusions until my donor
could be found and we left for Mayo. His kind approach and
recommendation for transplant helped calm Deb and I to know I would
be OK. His assistant Gary always managed to meet our scheduling
needs and made us feel like we came first. Thank you!
The Fairview Southdale IV Therapy
Department saw Deb and I many times between September and April for
June, Peg, Beth & Janice always found time to personalize our
experience and wish us the best of luck - thank you! Deb and I have a
special friendship with June, a woman who gives tirelessly to her
work and family. Her devotion is amazing.
As I approached transplant, I began home drug infusion to reduce
high iron levels. The Fairview Home Infusion team taught Deb and I
how to administer the drugs and kept us in supply at all times.
Their team works around the clock to make sure there are no
problems. Thank you all.
The Mayo Clinic Team. The Mayo Clinic
is an amazing place. It can be summed up in my mind in two words -
excellence and teamwork. On November 17, 2004 I saw Dr. White at the
Mayo Clinic. After many tests, including a second bone marrow
biopsy, we met with Dr. Call on November 24th and we were told I had
MDS. Dr. Call brought in bone marrow transplant specialist Dr. Hogan
to be my primary doctor throughout the process. Both Dr. Call and Dr. Hogan agreed that I should
seriously consider a bone marrow transplant. Their wisdom has saved
Finding a donor is no
small feat. I worked with Mayo transplant coordinator Michelle Skaar.
I bothered Michelle weekly (or more) with questions about donors, my
transplant process and how the donor database works. She always made
time for me and was honest about my chances for a donor from the
start. Michelle stayed on my case until a perfectly matched donor
was found. I am sure she could feel the tears of happiness on my
face as she told me the news on March 2, 2005. Thank you Michelle
for your patience with me.
On April 18th, I checked into the
hospital and the care of the bone marrow transplant team of
nurses, assistants, dieticians, lab techs, physician assistants, doctors, etc. They
administered, monitored and adjusted my transplant progress and documented everything.
This dedicated team of men and women define human kindness and
caring of the sick. They took care of my every need, lifted my
spirits and answered my thousands of questions - all the
while telling me to let them know if I needed ANYTHING.
They almost beg you to let them help you more. Their passion for
their work is overwhelming, their compassion for my well being is
beyond words. I cannot thank them enough.
Dr. William Hogan has been my primary doctor at Mayo. Once we
agreed to attempt my transplant, Dr. Hogan personalized my
transplant regiment based on the progress of my disease and my
medical history and condition. I saw him every couple days while in
the hospital, but the rest of the team kept him in the loop and
probably talked to him daily. As complications arose, Dr. Hogan made
certain I saw specialists and received tests immediately in order to
remedy before things worsened. His collaboration with the entire
Mayo team gave me confidence that I was receiving the best care
possible. The respect that the rest of the staff has for Dr. Hogan
is very evident. He has answered all my tough questions in layman's
terms and has been very honest about the risks still ahead. I am now
seeing Dr. Hogan twice a week. Without the transplant, my quality of
life would not be very good this summer. Dr. Hogan has helped me
attain a second chance of life. There is no way to thank him enough.
My Siblings. When I was told I
needed a bone marrow donor, the doctors explained that my siblings
would be the best place to look. In fact, there is a 25% chance that
any sibling will be perfect match. Mike, Tim, Molly and Tom all
immediately agreed to be tested and sincerely all wanted to my
perfect match. Unfortunately, none of them matched and we searched
for an unrelated donor. They were all heart broken. But, their
involvement did not stop there. They all became integral to my
recovery by calling me almost daily, visiting me at Mayo,
communicating my condition to friends and family and giving me their
love, support, and humor. I love them so much!
My Parents. I am very fortunate, at
age 51, to have both my parents still living. My mother, due to her
health, is not aware of my transplant. But, her strength in dealing
with her own health issues has been a guiding light for me to follow
through all of this. My father and step-mom flew Deb and I see them
in Florida prior to my transplant when I could not travel
commercially. During my entire procedure, I spoke to my father
almost daily, he traveled home from Florida to see me and he prayed
for me constantly. Our conversations lifted my spirits and drove my
desire to persevere. Thank you Dad for still being around to help me
out. *Update - my parents have both since passed. Their spirit
continues to live in me.
kids. Amy, Ben, Andy, Megan & Kelly were asked to carry a
heavy burden through all of this. Deb and I had to explain the very
tough reality of survival rates of someone in my condition and I
know they all felt helpless during my ordeal. I kept a very positive
attitude in order for them to carry out their lives without having
too worry endlessly about me. And it worked for all of us. Their
visits to see me in Rochester were wonderful, even though I was
exhausted all the time. And now time together at home is very
special. It is just like old times, only better.
is my love, my soul mate and this spring she was thrust into a role
as my primary care giver. She never left my side. She was there more
than any other care giver! She worked day and night to see my needs
were met, my care was the best and that I got help when needed. She
surrounded me with angels to guide me. She fed me, walked me,
clothed me, showered me and did it all with a smile on her face and
love in her heart. If I had to do it again without her, I am not
sure I could. She is my everything.
My Donor. Transplant recipients are
not allowed to find out about their unrelated donor for 1 year (or 2
years if international). My donor, Elke, lives in Germany, so I had
to wait to find out her identity and she had to agree to it.
for reasons unknown, agreed to be on a bone marrow donor database
and was called to be a donor for me. She was tested
further to see if she was a perfect match (she was) and later
agreed to further tests to see if she was in good physical condition to actually
supply me some of her stem cells. Then, Elke agreed to be put
asleep as two doctors drew dozens of bone marrow samples from both
her hips. The recovery leaves most donors in pain for days up to three
weeks. Elke's gift of life to me is testament to the good people on
this earth. Elke and I have been in contact and have sent emails and
letters. We have not yet met, but I hope to meet her soon.
My Faith. It is amazing how life
threatening situations will strengthen faith in God. I have lived a
very very happy and fortunate life. In my past, I felt I could pray
for others, but that with my few problems, I could not burden God to
focus on little old me. Even as I entered the hospital, I felt that
others were worse off than I and my prayers for recovery almost felt selfish. As my
case became more complicated and I was at my weakest, Deb worked
with me to understand that I must ask for God's help. Quickly, the
power of prayer worked to heal me faster than expected and my faith
grew to new heights. I began to cherish prayer time with Deb. The
power of God's love and healing power delivered me back to health.
This will help make me a better person forever.