Saturday, August 19, 2017
On February 16, 2016 I crashed while riding my mountain bike. Broke my left femur in half at the hip. The orthopedic surgeon quickly repaired that but blood work discovered a new challenge.
A post-surgery visit with an oncologist discovered that I have a rare blood cancer. Polycythemia vera somehow took up residence in my bone marrow. Only some 100,000 or so of us out of the entire population of our great country have this mutant gene. Modern medicine cannot discern how we get PV and there is no cure.
So while the estimate is that some 100,000 or so of us have this mutant gene I ask what about all those others who have PV….and don’t know it. For example, soon after my diagnosis, my 46-year-old son went for his yearly physical and told his physician that I have PV.
The doctor looked perplexed. He didn’t have a clue what PV is. Luckily for my son his blood test revealed a normal level of red blood cells. So my point is this, just how many men and women in their sixties and seventies have PV and just don’t know it?
The vast majority of people don’t have a clue as to what the symptoms of PV are. So here are the most common:
· Tiredness (fatigue)
· Itchy feet
· Sweating (at night or during the day)
· Blurred vision or blind spots
· Painful burning or numbness of the hands or feet
· Bleeding from the gums and heavy bleeding from small cuts
· Bone pain
· Shortness of breath
· Abdominal pain or discomfort
· Early feeling of fullness when eating
· Pain under the left ribs
· Problems concentrating
· Dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness
· Reddening of the face, or a burning feeling on the skin
· Angina (chest pain)
· Ringing in the ears
So highly suggested that if you are dealing with any or many of the above you should see your doctor and get your blood tested. Better to understand what you are dealing with so that you can get on with your life. I did.
This March 1st I published my 3rd novel, “Volunteer Gap” which is the next offering in the “Gap” series. If you loved the 1985 movie “Witness” you will enjoy this novel. As a boutique indie author, I’m blessed to have readers who have embraced my passion.
I deal with my PV daily. Yet I don’t let it get in the way of my life. I ride s 20 miles a day on my bike. I swim and I love to take long walks with my wife. I have kicked this blood cancer fear to the curb.
I wallow in the joy of life…each and every day!
Friday, August 18, 2017
The Angel on My Shoulder
I never expected it. My mountain bike ride was almost over. Yet, without warning it happened.
On February 16, 2016, I crashed while riding my mountain bike. I had just left the wooded trail and was headed to my truck. As I passed through a narrow gate which I had passed through on many occasions, my right handle bar caught the edge of the gate. I fell hard to the pavement.
In the next moment, I felt intense pain from my left hip. I knew it was bad. In a short while I was admitted to the nearby hospital. The x-ray revealed that my left femur was cracked in half at the hip. Within twenty-four hours the orthopedic surgeon repaired the femur with a pin and screws.
Now all of that was the easy part. My blood work at the hospital discovered a new challenge. My hematocrit levels were sky high. The normal very high in the range would be in the 46. Mine was 69. There was no rhyme or reason for that at all.
A post-surgery visit with an oncologist answered all of that. Blood work discovered that my body was playing host to a rare blood cancer. She explained that polycythemia vera, or PV as it is commonly referred to, somehow took up residence in my bone marrow. Only some 100,000 or so of us out of the entire population of our great country have this mutant gene. Modern medicine cannot discern how we get PV and there is no cure.
She also explained that without treatment my thick red blood might have killed me when a clot could have ended it all. Now as a competitive marathoner who completed fifty marathons and cyclist, I have come to the realization that in the past, my thick red blood might have provided the fuel to run and ride very well.
So there I was with a million questions as to how my life was about to change. I was in the middle of writing my third novel in a series when all of this came to pass. Needless to say, my writing came to a screeching halt.
My oncologist prescribed hydroxyurea, a chemotherapy drug that works to keep the gene under control. I also do my part with vigorous exercise every day to rid my body of the toxins within. It didn’t take long for me to recognize my new physical limitations and tweak my daily routines to deal with them.
I didn’t let any of that stop me from traveling and finishing my third novel. In fact, “Volunteer Gap” was published on March 1st! This new challenge invigorated me to enjoy my writing and wallow in each precious moment of every day.
Now I live each day with much thinner blood that lessens the opportunity for my blood to clot. I no longer run but I do still ride my bike over hill and dale every day and enjoy every moment along the way.
I celebrated my 70th birthday in July, I embrace my passion for the written word and life that has set…my spirit free! I also realize that I crashed for a reason on February 16, 2016. That miracle discovered the PV inside of me that, without treatment, could have ended it all.
There is no doubt that an angel was riding on my shoulder on that fateful day in February. I am truly blessed.
The "Gap" Series
The "Gap" Series