Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

For those who check this over the next week, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have included a in-line copy of our family's Christmas letter at the end of this post as well. Thanks to all of you for your support over the past year. I am not "out of the woods" yet, but certainly feeling the best that I have over the past 3 or more years.

I saw the Dr on Tuesday and don't have another appt scheduled for 4 weeks. In previous cases, I have not made it more than two weeks before having to go in for something, but I am feeling positive this time. One reason is that my hemoglobin is even higher at 14.9, up from the 13.4 that it was two weeks ago. The normal range is 13.3 to 17.7 g/dL. Actually, my red blood cell count is still low at 4.1 billion/L, though that has also increased from 3.61 two weeks ago. RBC normal range is from 4.4 to 5.9.

Unfortunately, my platelets are still down at 70. Normal is 150-450 million/L. This affects my blood clotting and makes me easy to bruise. At my next appt, they plan to run more blood test relative to antiphospholipid syndrome. This was my original problem when I had the pulmonary embolism (blood clots in lungs) three years ago. I still give myself a shot of Lovenox in my abdomen every day and have not been able to switch back to the little coumadin pill. White cell counts are in the normal range at 5.3. Importantly, my liver tests are normal and my spleen is only enlarged a little.

Here is the Christmas letter:
Christmas 2007

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Hope your family is doing well. Here’s a rundown of news about our family:

We are thankful that Joel is doing quite well after his bone marrow transplant last May. He is on long-term disability, so enjoys staying at home, working with his old computer collection and fixing things around the house. We have finally replaced the driveway, patio and garage door. Joel is also keeping up on his career technology and learning new programming skills through the Internet. For a weekly update of his health progress, please go to

Marilyn continues to enjoy teaching English Language Learners at Hayes Elementary School in Fridley. Each day brings new challenges, but she is thankful for her job and for her fascinating students with different languages and cultures.

Anna is working on her master’s thesis and plans to graduate from Harvard Divinity School in 2008 with a Master of Divinity degree. She and her two cats spent most of the summer living with us in Fridley where she enjoyed a glorious summer of doing nothing but spending time with the family, biking, reading and watching movies. She does not currently have definite plans for next year but is expecting the unexpected.

Andrew has been enjoying his first semester at the University of Minnesota in the College of Biological Science. He has been taking honors classes and has been doing well. He is still considering pre-med and is planning to major in biochemistry and chemistry. We typically see him a couple of times a week as he helps out with the youth group at our church, Redeemer Lutheran, here in Fridley.

Marilyn’s mother, Eleanor (93) has struggled with serious health problems this year and has been spending the last few months in the Camilla Rose Nursing Home in Coon Rapids, MN. Marilyn spends as much time as she can with Eleanor.

Unfortunately, our beagle, Velvet, died in November due to kidney disease. Our two cats, Moses and Zacheaus, have taken over her begging role and seem more affectionate as well.

May your Christmas be a Christ-filled one!!!

Love, Marilyn, Joel, Anna, and Andrew

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More diarrhea

Everything was ok for 10 days and then I got another bout of diarrhea last Saturday. I had a Dr appt today, but could not produce a stool sample at the clinic. It has now been 12 hours since the last rush to the bathroom so maybe it is over. Dr wants me to cut back on milk and dairy products to see if that makes a difference.

On the blood count side, my hemoglobin was 13.4, about the same over the past three weeks and still in the normal range. My white cell count is also ok, but my platelets have dropped back to 72. This means that I need to keep taking Lovenox (blood thinner) injections. If it had stayed above 100, I could have switched back to coumadin tablets which I last used in April. Dr has also reduced my Prednisone and Levaquin doses so I am down to only 10 - 13 pills a day.

Otherwise, I feel pretty good. We have had snow twice in the last 4 days and I have shoveled a couple of hours each time. Yesterday, I even cleaned out my mother-in-law's driveway. I resurrected her old electric snowblower which had not been run for over 30 years, but then hit a piece of wood under the snow and sheared the auger pin. I fixed it this morning and will get back over there tomorrow to clean up this latest snowfall. My 25 year old gasoline snowblower has a frozen exhaust valve that I am also repairing.