Saturday, December 19, 2009

From another's point of view.

What follows is a post on a friends Blog. Sarah went to school with this woman and her husband has cancer too. I think this will give you all a glimpse of how it affects those that are closest to someone with cancer. I thought it would be beneficial for you to see this from another perspective since all I can really talk about is what I feel, and how it affects me. Please feel free to comment afterwards with any thoughts or experiences you may have had in dealing with this, it just may help me, Clark, or our wives to cope with this. You could just make someone's day a whole lot brighter simply by letting them know they are not alone...

Be at peace,

From my perspective. In the last year I have watched my husband get sick, lose his hair and try to muddle through the indignities of cancer and the treatment that is needed to survive.

Watching him lose the hair on his head, lose his eyebrows, eyelashes and patches of hair other places was hard. Clark said at times he felt like a mutant.

When we had to use disability passes at places where there was excessive standing like Disneyland, Clark did not want to use the pass. However in the beginning many months ago, he tired so easily it was a necessity.

This time, Clark had his hair back and some energy. We got the handicap pass but he was determined not to use it.

To me there was no sign of being sick, until...

Someone asked me about the burn marks visible on Clark's neck.

I got mad. Silly I know, but Clark had just ended several weeks of radiation. I know he had suffered enough from the indignities of cancer and now he had his hair back, but his journey with cancer was still visible.

I wanted to say it was anything but cancer. Somehow I wanted to scream what business is it of yours, instead I mumbled on how it was the effects of radiation treatment for cancer.

I think I am ready for Clark to be cancer free. I am ready to have the doctor tell Clark he is a cancer survivor.

I can only pray for all those who have suffer from the indignities of cancer because it must simply suck.

What follows is the comment I left on her Blog:

Every time I go to the VA and they check my blood pressure they tell me my heart rate is elevated... Well DUH! It's uphill all the way into the clinic I tell them... I have asked the doctor to get me the paperwork so I can get a handicap hanger for the car and use the spots up front, maybe not have to walk so far... up a hill...

It IS hard to accept that though, I know from experience. The worst part for me is that people don't SEE a person with cancer. They see a thirty something man that for all intents and purposes looks healthy as can be. I have even had doctors and nurses tell me that I can keep working or where there are jobs available. I try to be polite because I know that they cannot know what it is like to walk up a flight of stairs in your own home and have to lie down for 10-15 minutes and catch your breath, waiting for a raging pulse to slow down before you can go tuck your children into bed...

Sucks doesn't even BEGIN to come close to describing it. The worst part is being mad as hell at what has happened and not one person on my journey with cancer has been able to tell me how or why I got this. I have even been to two University level facilities where cancers are studied and not one single person, not ONE has asked me a single question about what I may have been exposed to, how I have lived my life, nothing at all to do with how I may have gotten this. I have all this rage that builds up and absolutely no outlet for it. So... I cry, like a lot! It helps a little, for a little while, but then it comes back again...

Stay strong, you and Clark too and tell him when I go to Disneyland I won't get a handicap pass either, in honor of our mutual struggle.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An anniversary to forget.

Boy did December ever sneak up on me this year! I realized that I was a little behind on updating you all about a week ago but I have been struggling with what to say. And then there was today… The realization hit me that it was the middle of December in 2007 that I first went to the doctor at a couple of my Aunts’ requests, or rather insistence. Boy did my life change after that fateful visit. Now here I am two years later and over half a continent away from the place I have know as home for so very many years. In the past two years I have spent way more time in doctors offices and hospitals than I would ever have imagined, received well over two hundred units of blood and made some of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make. But truth be told, that is all in the past. Nothing I can do can ever change what has happened. It is what it is. I have learned to look at life with a whole new perspective though. I search for the positive in all things and I wish that I could bottle that up and give it to the whole world, what a wonderful place this would be if I could do that for the world...

So, on to the nitty gritty of the past month. I have been back on the Danazol for over a month now. The tests have all been done and things are set on the VA’s end for me to proceed with the transplant. I just had a wonderful visit with the hematologist today and there is some great news. My ferritin level is right around 2700. Normal is 1000 but just about a month or so ago it was over 7000! Ferritin is a protein in the body that binds to iron, which has been in excess in my system due to the numerous transfusions. The doctor didn’t seem too excited by that but I was nearly in tears. See, in such a situation as I have found myself in over the past two years even the smallest victories are magnified a thousand fold or more. Add that to my penchant for looking for the good in all situations and that makes for one happy Tracy! I am still waiting for word from the folks in Seattle to set an appointment to go talk to them about what they have to offer by way of the transplant. What are there odds, their success rates, mortality rates and so forth. Basically, what can we expect from this and how will it all go down. I tell you true, if I could start that process tomorrow I would in a heartbeat just to be done with it. It would seem that it is the only option left to me, so let’s get on with it!

In some very closely related news I have had lots of people tell me that they have “done the swab” and are registering for the Marrow Donor Program. To those of you who have done so, I send out the warmest and most sincere, heartfelt thank you that I could ever put forth. You have no idea how my heart swells with the most absolute joy when I read those words. I know that to most people it may not seem like much but for someone in my position it serves to reinforce that even those that I have never met love me in the purest sense of the word. I salute you and I send that love right back to you. I think that is the very nature of love. You simply cannot keep it. It does you absolutely no good to put it in your pocket and it has no value unless you give it freely to another. But when you do, oh the joy it can fill you with!

Additionally I would like to leave you all with this. I have been fighting depression for some time and I am finally seeing a counselor to deal with that. I have chosen to forgo treating it with medication so as to avoid any more side effects than I already have right now. Here’s the thing with depression, those that have to deal with it many times don’t even know, especially when they are dealing with something else like, oh let’s say cancer for example… It doesn’t hurt; there are few outward signs unless you know what to look for. I encourage you to ask questions if you think that someone you know and love is dealing with this. I can tell you, it SUCKS!

Lastly, I would like to extend my warmest and most heartfelt wishes that each and every one of you has the most amazing Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule, or whatever you do celebrate this time of year that you possibly can have. Spend it with the ones you love and hold them close. Have fun with them, make memories… because you just never know.

Peace, love and happiness to all, and to all a good night!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Valentines Day 2009

Well, I am still working on the December post. But I did dig up this little gem for a friend and I'd like to share it with you to keep you occupied until I get the next post done.


Valentines Day 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009

I would like to preface this with a disclaimer: Each man is an entity unto himself. As such, he should never be held to some standard that is perceivably set by his wife, girlfriend, or significant other after she has read something such as this. Ladies, please do not take this to your husband, boyfriend, or significant other and use it as an example, this is what I did for my wife and, as you will see, it took the help of a lot of people to pull it off. This is my story and each person should be allowed the opportunity to write his or her own. That being said, here is a brief account of what I, Tracy Luegge, did in honor of the love I have for my wife Sarah on Valentines Day, February 14, 2009. It must also be said that it has taken 18 years of trying for me to get to a place where this was possible, and a host of friends and family have also lent their support.

This idea was started in my head around a month ago. I truly believe that there was a higher power involved and I’ll try to explain at the appropriate time in the story…
This all started out as just dinner and a show. Not just a movie, as in whatever just happened to be playing at the local movie theater, but an honest to goodness show. Something I had researched, with her in mind, and setup in conjunction with a nice meal.
I first secured a babysitter, thanks Becky and Aunt Bonnie. I am told the kids had a surprise waiting for them that morning as well and I can’t wait to hear about their adventures. Next, while I had my sister’s attention, I inquired as to whether or not she knew of a restaurant that would still take reservations. She did and so I began looking into The Black Swan ( ). This seemed perfect, an elegant restaurant in a quiet setting overlooking a lake, and they’d take a reservation. A reservation was therefore obtained for 5:15. Next I needed a show, and not just some run of the mill play. I remembered taking her to Cats at Miller Auditorium ( ) and so I looked at their website and saw that they were showing Rain ( ) which I learned was a tribute to the Beatles. After 18 Valentines Days with Sarah, and nearly (like less then two months shy) as many years having been married to her, I have learned a thing or two. One being that she is a HUGE Beatles fan. (Side note, this would be the part where I believe a higher power was involved, Divine Intervention if you will) I also noticed that there was a showing on Valentines Day at 8pm, which would leave me plenty of time to get us to the auditorium from the restaurant after dinner.

Now for the little things that would truly make this MY treat to her. I started thinking of ways to make this a special night. We have been to the movies rather recently and in fact, did also have a nice dinner along with said trip to the movies, but… it wasn’t a proper date. It should also be noted that at just about this time, I was having some rather interesting conversations via Facebook with some friends from my high school days regarding my senior prom which didn’t really go all that well. I will spare you the gory details, but it did lend a certain flare to my creative process in preparing for this special evening. I should also then say thanks to Mena and Ame for helping me work through those memories and turning something bad into something spectacular, so thanks ladies, I owe ya one. Bearing that in mind, I thought of setting this up as a genuine bona fide date. Here's what I mean by that. I made some calls to a couple of friends and set it up like this, I would leave the house and go to their house to “get ready” and so thanks are in order to the Kauffman’s, Jeff and Desiree (she plays another important part in the story in a bit). Afterwards I would proceed to “her house” (in reality just as much my own as hers as we live here together, but for the sake of the “date”, we’ll pretend) and pick her up at a predetermined time. This also gave her something else she likes, quiet time… A very precious commodity in our house! I also consulted my fashion adviser, Erin who is perhaps Sarah’s oldest and dearest friend to ask what I should tell her to wear for the occasion. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that all of the details were a complete surprise to her? All I told Sarah was "I'll pick you up at 4:30 for dinner and a show." No specific details were divulged. Well, Erin knows Sarah better than I do and knows fashion, which is completely alien to me (I still have a hard time coordinating my belt with my shoes!). So I knew I was in good hands and the advice was spot on, thanks Erin, you’re swell. I owe you one too, probably more.

Along the way, I also planned a few other stops. I stopped at the local florist several days before and ordered a corsage and matching boutonnière. I picked them up on the way to get ready and they were lovely, thanks Ridgeway Floral ( ). I then needed a card and some sweets so a quick stop at Kirlin’s Hallmark ( ) was in order. So with the final piece of the puzzle in hand, I was all set. Now to just put the wheels into motion.

I arrived at the Kauffman’s house around 3:30 with my suit, the card and candy, and the flowers all in hand. Got ready and Desiree helped pin the boutonnière onto the lapel of my coat, my hands were way too shaky for such a delicate operation! I actually had butterflies in the pit of my stomach! After I had done all I could to make myself presentable, I drove back to the house, gifts in hand, and rang the doorbell. It must also be said that Desiree followed me home with camera in hand to snap a few photos of the occasion, thanks again Des. Sarah answered the door in her brand spanking new black dress with white polka dots and I must say, it does a man good to see his wife dressed up for a night out on the town. There are words to describe just how beautiful she was, but that would take a lot of typing. Suffice it to say, she nearly took my breath away! Des and I came in and I delivered the swag. I think she was impressed, but there was more in store. After a few quick photos, we were off.

We arrived just a few minutes late for our reservation but the restaurant was magnificent. A lovely setting both inside and out. Valet parking (an option I did not avail myself of), a coat check (a first for me) and a staff that is second to none. The food was exquisite, from the salads to the dessert. After dining, we retrieved our coats and were off to the show. I still hadn't told her what we were going to see but once inside the auditorium, we walked past a souvenir table and she saw the goods. The smile on her precious face was reward enough for me and she hadn’t even heard them play yet! I picked up a program and a rose from another vendor and we were off to our seats. Shortly after, the show began and all I could do was watch her as she enjoyed the show. She was smiling from ear to ear and singing right along with the band. As for myself, I also enjoyed the show and even got a little choked up when they sang Yesterday. It seems as though yesterday, all MY troubles seemed so far away, but for me, love is still an easy game to play… if you are truly, deeply, and unconditionally in love.

After the show was over, I stood in the lobby waiting for her to use the facilities and a younger couple (I guessed college age) strolled by and the fellow says to me “I like your style”. I thought it a bit odd, but thanked him nonetheless. A few minutes later, after she was done and we were outside walking to the car we passed them again and I heard this fellow remark to his date “This guy knows how to do it right!” Buddy, if only you knew, if only you knew…

So, thanks to all my friends and family without whom, much of this would not have been possible. You’re the greatest and I am blessed to have you all in my life. Most importantly, I am blessed to have Sarah in my life. I love you baby, Happy Valentines Day…

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Fresh Start

Well, quite a few things of note have happened in just a couple of weeks since the last update. I thought it prudent to share with all of you so as to keep you apprised of my situation and in an effort to keep these updates a little shorter. Here goes.

First, I had some really deep and meaningful talks, the kind of talks that really set you back on your heels and make you take a hard look at your life. Who you are, where you’ve been and just where you are going. I’d like to start with the “where I have been” part. I used to be a very angry person and I know some of you could see this and many of you had to deal with it. Still others I’d be willing to bet never would have guessed. Point is, I can see the truth of it and I mean to continue to change that. It’s simply NOT who I want to be. I have also had a pretty negative attitude about life in general as of late and I mean to change that as well. It simply won’t do if I intend to see myself through this thing called cancer. I need to get positive and stay positive throughout this trial if I am to be successful.

Now, onto where I am going. I am going to heal myself by whatever means necessary! It simply won’t do to sit around waiting until the transplant is my only remaining option to stay alive. It IS my only option for life, period! I had some interesting conversations with my doctors over the course of the past couple of weeks as well and what that led to is this; if I were to try the last remaining medication and just try to deal with its side effects, with the ongoing transfusions my body would continue to build up iron and eventually vital organs would begin to fail. At this point I would likely not BE healthy enough for the transplant so that leaves me with just trying to maintain my “quality of life” or as good as they can give me. Not cool… Or… I can go to Seattle, to the BEST facility in the United States for Bone Marrow Transplants, and get the transplant done and have a chance (a much better chance than I was initially given at the Mayo Clinic) at LIFE. A fresh start, a new beginning. So my friends and family, I am going to take that chance and be rid of this crap in me once and for all, cause DAMNIT, I WANNA LIVE!!! Nuff said.

As for who I am, I honestly can’t say right now. I am not even sure that I know or that any of us really ever does know who we are. But I do know who I’d like the world to see when they look at me, and I aim to get myself to that point one way or another. I can see that I am here, now, in California for several reasons. One, this is where I can get the absolute BEST care to treat my disease. My “team” of doctors has been working very hard to get things pointed in the right direction for that to happen. Sure, we have hit some snags along the way, but they are willing to listen to what I have to say and what I wish to have done (good thing for them!). After a battery of tests to ensure that I am healthy enough for the transplant, which culminated in yet another bone marrow biopsy, things look like they are right on track so far. I’d also like to tell you about that biopsy, I have had this procedure done twice in the past two years and each time with less than a perfect outcome. The first time was in a hematologist’s office with only a local sedative while he tried to push the tools through my bone, and it hurt like HELL! The second time was at the Mayo Clinic, and they offered me the option of being out cold for the procedure and I gladly accepted. Slightly better results except that I still had a lot of difficulty walking for the next several days, something I also experienced with the first one. Now here I am in California a little over a year later and I was having it done again. This time however I made my voice heard and I wanted to know why it needed to be done when nothing had changed with regards to my health, and if it was going to be done it would have to be done on my terms. I saw a friend of mine who is a hypnotherapist the night before and got some really good pointers as well as some hypnotic “suggestions” that helped tremendously. Another thing that helped was having a compassionate doctor. I lay on my side on the table with Sarah facing me in a chair and put some REALLY heavy metal music on my iPod and was just breathing, listening to my tunes, and reminding myself to relax while I told myself that I was not going to feel pain. The doctor initially kept telling me what was going on but I just kept turning up the volume on my iPod until I couldn’t hear anything but the music. She had Sarah watch for my reactions to what she was doing and when it got to be too much she would slow down or stop and take a break. She was genuinely concerned and took the time to make this the best experience I have ever had, medically speaking of course. I kid you not when I tell you that I was only a little sore after and have been able to walk since right after the procedure. I feel REALLY GOOD about where I am and who is looking after me. I strongly encourage you all to make sure that your voice is heard by your doctor and that if you are for any reason uncomfortable with that communication, by all means, GET ANOTHER DOCTOR!!! You ALWAYS have other options, always. It’s up to you to exercise them.

Another reason for my being here in California has to do with my search for my spiritual path. It has been a long and winding road but I can finally see an end to it, of sorts. I know that it will still require a lot of work but I also know that I am in the right place to do that work. Sure an’ the Lord has put me here, now, to put all parts of me right. My physical being, my mental being, and my spiritual being. I may not see where MY path is, but I am on the path that will lead me there. Now stand aside, I’ve work to do!

Brightest blessings to you one and all, and may the path ahead of you be clear and have a spectacular view.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another step along the path…

There are so many things that I want to say, that I HAVE wanted to say, but I don’t know where to begin… Let me start with the most recent things and try to work my way back. I went to see the Hematologist today and I guess it went well. That is to say, I got my point across that I want to be 100% involved in what is going on with my “treatment” and that I don’t appreciate decisions being made for me or assumptions made on my behalf. That’s about the best thing that came from today’s appointment. Apparently I am now dealing with two or more doctors, which I suppose is good in that I have a “team” working on my case, but I need to know that they are communicating well with each other AND with me. The ME part is key, at least from my perspective.

The other thing that I got from today’s appointment is this; I can certainly try Thalidomide but the fact is that it won’t really change anything, only prolong the inevitable and in the process there is a very real possibility that irreparable damage can be done to a good many vital organs that can neither be reversed nor prevented as the disease will continue along it’s path. The ONLY possible (that word causes some trepidation) cure for Myelofibrosis is a Bone Marrow Transplant, period. If I choose to try the meds and put the transplant off until later and the organs begin to fail, then the x-plant will not be an option. If I choose to forego the x-plant altogether, the disease will eventually run it’s course and I don’t think I need to tell you where THAT leaves me.

So, why not just man up and go with the x-plant? I’ll tell you why… There is a very real chance that the procedure itself can kill me. There is also a very real chance that I could go through all this and it just plain won’t work. Also, there will be drugs involved that are so toxic that if they are spilled in the hospital a HAZMAT team is called in to clean up the spill. They want to put this crap inside my body to “prep” it for the new marrow… Not a pleasant thought in my mind and I would be lying if I said I was not scared. I am scared as HELL! I want no part of any of this, I just want it to go away, but it won’t. At least not on it’s own. I could really use some advice here, your opinions, what you think, what would you do. This is some pretty important stuff here and obviously NOT a decision to be taken lightly.

This is all contingent on them even FINDING a suitable donor. They even discussed using the kids… I just don’t know if I could even ask them to go through this. Haven’t they gone through enough already? Many of you have asked me what you can do to see if you are a match. All I can tell you is to go here: and follow the steps to see if you are a match. Be advised that this will put you in a National Registry and you may very well be called to give to someone else, whether or not you are a match for me. You can donate multiple times; YOUR marrow will grow back, unlike SOME people… You can always decline later if you like and the process to see if you are a match is, I believe, a simple swab of the inside of your cheek. The donation process is quite another thing. I imagine it would be something very similar to my bone marrow biopsies where they “tap” into your pelvic bone and draw out what they need. I can assure you that you WILL be sore for several days afterwards… Because of this, and my nature in general, I cannot ask you to donate. I will just leave it up to you each as individuals to make the decision yourselves. If you don’t, I will still love you anyway… nothing can ever change that.

I have to meet with the VA psychologists on Friday and also a caseworker to make sure I have the proper mind set for this and also a good support system. IF I decide to go through with this Sarah and I would basically be moving to Seattle for several months (up to six I think) and we have the kids, the dogs… Then there is the thought of what happens if things go horribly bad and I simply don’t come back? Sorry… I didn’t intend to let this go “there” but I guess it’s sort of unavoidable at this point. Time to face reality. Time to decide where I want to be buried, IF I want to be buried or cremated, what kind of beer will be served at the wake… I have tried all throughout to remain as positive as possible but this is simply wearing down my resolve, my will to keep on fighting. I honestly don’t know how much more I can take… what reserves I have left in me. I have not done a whole lot of anything except think of the “what-ifs” for the past month and I don’t like any of them to be quite honest. And I have finally gotten mad about the whole thing, as in why me? What did I do to deserve this? How can the Osama Bin Laden’s and the Jeffery Dahmer’s and the Charles Manson’s just keep on living and I have to get cancer. And not just your run of the mill cancer but THIS! Please understand that I certainly don’t mean to make light of cancer at all, in any way. I’d like to think that I have been a relatively good person throughout my life. Sure I have made mistakes but I think I have already paid for them. I CERTAINLY didn’t cause thousands of deaths or start a war or eat anybody… SO WHY?!?!? I guess I am just supposed to accept that some things just are, that there is no explanation… I don’t like it but then again, I don’t like taxes and yet… ya still gotta pay…

Well, there were other things that I wanted to talk about but I guess I had a lot to get off my chest about that one thing. There are some pretty fun things that we did this month too but maybe I’ll save that for another update.

Until next month, may your Jack-O-Lanterns shine bright, your candy basket’s be full, and your car avoid any eggs this Halloween.

All my love, Tracy

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Culture shock!

Well, we have been here in California for about two months now and it hit me full force today that we ain't in Kansas (or Michigan) anymore Toto...

See, we went to the funeral of my wife's Uncle Ron today. Now, funerals I expect are much the same across the country with the exception being the religion practiced by the individual and/or their family. But it is what happened AFTER the service that left me in awe and made me realize that I am definitely NOT from around here. What follows is my account of the events directly after the service at the Funeral Home...

After the conclusion of the service folks sorta milled about until Uncle Ron was placed into the hearse and then they started making their way to their respective means of conveyance. The parking lot was laid out in such a way that the vehicles were parked into rows to facilitate a smoother exiting of the parking lot and into the funeral procession. Or at least that was clearly evident to me... such was NOT however the case! Some people started jockeying their way around other parked vehicles toward the exits in a most disorderly fashion and the hearse had not even moved yet but it was what followed that sorta had me ill at ease... as the hearse left the parking lot there was no rhyme nor reason to which vehicle left after or followed this way or that... it was CHAOTIC to say the least! You'd have thought the hare was racing around the track rail and all of us were hounds trying to catch it. Then as we finally made our way into the procession there was noone to direct traffic and the other motorists simply went about their business as if we in the procession were just leaving a softball game or some such. There was simply no consideration made whatsoever for the deceased or the family and friends of said person!

Now I know that I come from a rather small town in the Midwest and that we do things a little differently there but COME ON! Seriously?!? Where I come from, when a funeral procession passes by (you'll know them because all the vehicles have their lights on and there are little magnetic flags fluttering on the hoods of the cars and trucks) people take a second to pay their respects, even if they don't know who the person is/was. Traffic on the other side of a divided highway comes to a stop, construction workers will pause and take of their hats holding them over their hearts and bowing their heads, the procession stops for nothing short of a police car or fire truck... in short, all who are witness to such an event act in a far different manner than I witnessed today. Is life in this "Golden State" so incredibly hectic and fast paced that a person can't take a minute or two to at the very least be respectful to the newly departed? Perhaps say a prayer on his/her behalf? WOW... This is really very sad to me, that so little attention is paid to those that are now gone from us. What is next? Are we to be sent to a recycling facility and that's that? Where's Aunt Josie? Oh, she passed away last week and we mulched the garden with her...

Now most of you know that I am still trying to find my spiritual path. I don't consider myself a religious person but I DO consider myself a spiritual person. And as most of you are very aware, I am battling a life threatening disease and death is a very real possibility as I know that it is for all of us. Any one of us could try to cross the street and be hit by a bus at any given moment, but for me, it is so much more than real, it is literally IN MY FACE with every waking minute. As you may imagine, I have thought a lot about death... where I want to be buried after I am gone, what I want the service to be like, it is after all MY party right? But if this is how it is to be... well, I may just want to go home and have my coffin placed on a hay wagon and have it pulled by a team of draft horses through downtown on my way to the cemetery. Maybe even have it put in the back of my old pick-up truck and have my friends take me out to the woods for a good old fashioned bonfire... At least I'll get a little respect along the way.

Until then (yeah, I plan on it being quite a long while...) lets all slow down just a little and help a stranger along on the final leg of his journey, can we?

Rest in peace Uncle Ron, I hope the pace is just a bit slower up there...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

So here we are a few weeks after the last post, or maybe just a few scant days. I seem to have lost a week in there somewhere just laying in bed not wanting to get up, not really wanting to eat, not really caring much to even live… That’s the cold hard truth. Why? A week ago today I had another appointment with my Hematologist but I actually saw another one in Livermore. Seems that the first is moving her practice back to Palo Alto and I am being passed onto another Dr. No real biggie, just a new face. What WAS new was what the new doctor had to say. Seems the “new medication” that I was going to go on is something that your body makes in situations where it needs more blood and my body is already making WAY more than normal anyway. Long story short, the new medication would have no real effect. So… what now? Well there is basically one more medication, Thalidomide, and it has it’s own set of problems that I am not even going to go into. Apart from that there is really nothing else except for a BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) and I had already said that I was putting that on the back burner so to speak for my last ditch effort. Seems as though that pot is about to boil over. The risks involved with that are numerous and VERY serious. The percentages of it even working aren’t even all that great… thus the reason to keep it on hold for as long as possible.

Needless to say, both Sarah and I were VERY upset by the time the appointment was over. I could hardly sleep for several days while I “processed” this new development and neither could Sarah. I think this past week was even worse for me than the initial diagnosis and subsequent discussion of the BMT. I honestly thought at one point that everyone around me would be better off if I were just plain gone right now, then they wouldn’t have to see me deteriorate, or watch me suffer. I know that is hard to hear (or read) but that IS the truth. You see, depression is very much like being drunk. When you are too drunk to drive, you are too drunk to KNOW you are too drunk to drive. Similarly, when you are in deep depression, you are too depressed to KNOW you are depressed. Please don’t start calling all sorts of people, I never ONCE thought about ending my life. I could never do that, WOULD never do that. I know enough to get help and Sarah watches me like a hawk. I simply want you to know the absolute gravity of the situation. Heavy huh?

I think that the thing that upset me the most was that I gave MYSELF a false sense of security. I let the doctors tell me what would happen, what medications I would take… etc. etc. Now I am in charge of my life and I intend to stay there. I guess I always knew in the very back of my mind that it would eventually lead to this (the BMT) but I just didn’t WANT to go there. Sometimes you don’t get a choice where you have to go, you just go there because it is what must be done. Sarah and I are talking about it VERY seriously now and making preliminary plans for when it will happen. I will do it on MY terms though, when I am ready. There are a lot of very serious decisions to be made and we need to take some time to think them through very carefully. I know too that a lot of you are asking Sarah how you can be tested to see if you are a match to be my donor… you cannot know how deeply moved I am by that. I simply have no words to express my feelings on this. Thank you is all I have and it seems like it cannot even come CLOSE to being enough. I am not sure what is required but I will ask the doctor next week and let you all know. If you have any questions please, PLEASE feel free to ask. I will be absolutely honest with you. I think that the test is a simple blood draw but the actual “harvesting” of the marrow is much like the bone marrow biopsies that I had, and they hurt like HELL! Again, I think… It has been some time since I talked to any doctors about this and I pretty much dismissed it at the time. I WILL ask and let you all know though.

OK, onto happier things now… Sarah, Connor, Kenyon and I joined our friend Jennifer, her three sons, and her brother in an adventure that saw us driving to Reno, NV a week ago Saturday to watch the Reno Air Races. VERY COOL! Those planes were hauling BOOTAY!!! We also got some pit passes from a friend of hers (it’s good to have friends) and got to see some of the planes up close and personal like. There were also some military planes on display as well as putting on demonstrations in the air. It was a long drive but well worth it and I expect to see them again next year! We also went to the Capitol City Air show, just Sarah, Connor and I, a week before that. I finally got to see an F-22 Raptor in the air and it left me utterly speechless. The things that plane can do absolutely push the very limits of what seems possible according to the laws of physics! Connor got to meet the pilot and ground crew, get a t-shirt signed by all of them and one of them gave him a collectible coin! Very cool… I think I may have a fighter jock in the making!

I also began sorting through the mess that is my truck… It has been sitting outside ever since it’s arrival and I got it started and turned around and drove it into the garage. It was almost a gallon low in the transmission, the battery will not stay charged and the brakes need some serious attention. There is a laundry list of things on it that require my attention but it is my top priority. I want, no, I NEED to get that thing back on the road, to feel a sense of accomplishment and reap the rewards. I have once again been feeling like I have no purpose, no sense of who I am or why I am here. Like I have no job, so… I am going to treat this like it is my job.

There are some photos that I need to post onto the Flickr page too but that may have to wait for a few days. One of Sarah’s Uncles passed away and the funeral is Wednesday. At first I didn’t want to go but I know that it’s not me in the box and I don’t intend for it to be for a very long time so wish me luck! Once we are done sealing with that I will try to get the photos uploaded for you all to see. I also have several emails and Facebook messages to respond to (I haven’t forgotten you or been ignoring you, just dealing with my own demons) and I WILL get to those just as soon as I can. Please keep them coming, I miss some of you terribly and it helps to hear from you or read your words of kind encouragement.

Until next month (or whenever I feel I have something to share), I leave you with my love and thanks, for all your support.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Round two to the Gorilla

Well as many of you know (at least those that follow my facebook updates) today was not such a good day… I had an appointment with the Hematologist at 10:30 and by the time I got back to the van I was a slobbering bawling wreck. Some of you are aware that the new Dr. had me weaning off of the Prednisone and Danazol. Clearly they were not working and the long-term effects were not so desirable. Plus, I was tired (as were Sarah and the kids) of dealing with my dramatic mood swings and I was just plain getting super angry at the stupidest little things. Enough was enough. She had spoken to me about trying another drug and I suppose that I pinned my hopes on it as my miracle cure. Well, it ain’t happenin’. What this drug was going to do was replace a chemical that my body (and yours) naturally makes when it needs more red blood cells. After the test to determine what the level of this chemical was in MY body, it was discovered that I am ALREADY producing more than normal. Ergo, the medicine would not really do me any good.

So where does that leave me? With only one more drug to try, Thalidomide. This is a drug that was developed back in the 50’s (I think) as a sedative for pregnant women. Worked great except for one small side effect, all the women gave birth to babies that had severe birth defects… It was mothballed as you might well imagine, but it stayed on the shelf for possible other uses. They have made changes to its chemical make-up over the years and in fact, the clinical trial I was in at the Mayo Clinic was for the latest generation of this drug. While in the trial I was only getting transfusions about once a month as opposed to bi-weekly transfusions. It has been some time since I discussed this drug with any doctors but as I recall the potential side effects for me could be irreparable nerve damage, birth defects (yeah, it’s so nasty that if Sarah were to get preggers, the baby would have severe birth defects), so even though she is “fixed” I would have to take precautions to help insure that didn’t happen. I can tell you that NO guy like to think about these things, especially in the heat of the moment… As I am not yet even done weaning off the previous meds, none of this has really been discussed in detail with the new Dr.’s but I’ll address that when the time comes.

There is one other option which all of the new doctors have discussed and even gotten the ball rolling on already… the Transplant. In the new scenario a caregiver and I would go to Seattle and spend a week getting prepped by getting Chemo (for me, not the caregiver!) and then get the transplant. Afterwards I would need to stay there for a MINIMUM of 30 days. With all that I would be going through I don’t think that I would want the kids to have to see that… That means finding someone to take care of them for the duration, not to mention being apart from tem for that long… Then there is the very real possibility that the transplant won’t take or even worse, the possibility of Graft Vs. Host disease. In this case, the new bone marrow’s white blood cells would reject my body (the host) and attempt to eradicate me much like the common cold when you get sick. The odds of success are not all that good and frankly, I don’t want to go into details right now. I hope you understand…

To all of you who posted such kind and encouraging words on my facebook page today, I cannot begin to tell you how much that helped me get through the day… I could have easily given up and I will not EVEN begin to tell you how the thought process works regarding THAT. For those that called, I apologize if I wasn’t all that talkative, I was always taught that if you can’t say something nice, say nothing. Well, there was nothing nice to say. And to Frank, thanks for stopping by. It’s very comforting to know that help is only a phone call away. I understand all that you are going through already and I hate to add to that burden but as you all can see, there seems little that I can do otherwise.

Somehow thank you seems so feebly inadequate to all of you, but it is all I have at the moment. Please respect that this will take some time to process and I will likely not feel like “talking” about it. Please feel free to post comments on my facebook or on the Blog, as I will be trying to keep up on those. If you don’t hear from me, don’t worry… that doesn’t help you OR me. You can call Sarah if you need to get in touch with us but my phone will probably go straight to voice mail. I simply have enough to deal with right now…

Know also that I love you each and every one and I am simply AMAZED by the love and support that I have gotten already, even from people that have never met me or don’t even know who I am. You are ALL truly amazing people and I considered myself blessed to have you in my corner. That Gorilla packs a mean wallop! By the way, I could use a couple cases of bananas; I think he’s recruiting chimps…

DING DING DING!!! Round three!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm a little bit scared, but I am loved.

Someone once told me, during the initial phases of my emotional struggle to cope with my disease, that having a terminal disease was like sitting in a room with an 800-pound gorilla. Permit me to tell you how that whole concept works.

Throughout all of this, there are good days and bad. I am extremely grateful that the bad days are all just in my head (bare with me) and that there is no pain, and that on the good days I can mow the lawn, change my oil, build a new dinning room table and even muster up the gumption to walk the dogs. I am also thankful that the good days far outnumber the bad. On those “bad days”, the gorilla gets the upper hand. These are the days when I begin to wonder what will happen when I am gone. How will Sarah and the kids deal with my loss from one day to the next? Who will fix the leaky faucet, the broken switch on the fan, or replace the faulty outlet in the wall? Then it all becomes too much and I go to the bedroom and lie down and feel the press of all my worries bearing down on my chest and suddenly the world becomes very small…

Now on most days the gorilla is content to sit in the corner on his bed of palm fronds peeling bananas and watching Gilligans Island reruns. But, on the bad days, as I lie on the bed I can hear him slowly standing up. He senses my fear and knows that I am weak. He takes a tentative step forward on squatty legs, sniffs the air and I swear he smiles… just a bit. He stands up to his full height, stretches his arms out and cups his massive hands. His arms bend at the elbows and he begins to beat furiously on his chest, and I grow more scared. I begin to think that maybe it would be best to just lay there and let the gorilla win. All of my worries would end and no one would have to worry for me anymore either. So many people say after the loss of a loved one: “They’re in a better place.” So why then do we adhere to the mantra that we must fight to live? If I am going to a better place, why not just give in to the disease and just go?

At about this point one of two things happens. Either I remember the words of a wise friend who told me “Don’t do this for you, do it for me, for Sarah and the kids.” Or Sarah senses that I am having a bad day and she comes to my side and gives me the strength I need. The strength to fight the good fight! We talk it out, express our fears, our worries and our desires for the future. We give hope a voice in the darkest of hours and it is like a switch is turned on somewhere in the recesses of my soul. And I begin to rise… The thunderous beating starts to slow then diminish all together. There is this very quizzical yet oh so simian look on the gorillas face, as if he was thinking “OH shit!” and he retreats just a half step. I get off the bed and stand, a little uncertain at first (after all, he IS an 800 pound gorilla!) but then I feel the love and prayers of all the people that care so much about me and my family and my strength and confidence starts to grow by leaps and bounds! I stretch and rise to my full height and I tower over the ape that roars his disapproval of my newfound vigor, but to no avail. I will not be stopped!

I reach up into the tree and break a branch off and point it at him in defiance. One eye sort of squints as if I was aiming my power at him through the makeshift club. I then stretch my arms wide, squat my legs just a bit, throw back my head and fill my lungs until they feel as if they are going to burst they are so full of air and I scream!!! The sort of primal scream that says “I am here to stay for a very, very long time… get comfortable in your corner gorilla because that is where you’re going to stay!”

That is how it goes during the bad days… so remember, when you read that inspirational quote, when you see that picture of something so funny that milk comes out of your nose, or when you get a link to a video of some idiot doing something incredibly dumb with his brand new Ferrari and you laugh so hard that tears roll down your cheeks, send it on to a friend. You never know, they might be dealing with an 800 pound gorilla themselves… And when you think of that relative or friend that you have not heard from in a very long time and you start to worry, they are only a phone call away and your voice and your words of encouragement may just be what they need to hear to help them put their ape in HIS place… so call, email or write.

Now if you are the one dealing with the 800-pound gorilla, make sure to keep a generous supply of bananas on hand and always leave the TV in your room tuned to Gilligans Island reruns. If you can’t keep him in his place, at least keep him distracted until help arrives and remember, it’s ok to ask for help. Besides, you can’t very bloody well carry his dead carcass out of the house by yourself now can you?

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

All my love and extra bananas,

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Beginnings.

Well, here I am, one month into a new life and things are simply flying! I have met my new team of doctors and now have everything set up here. The new hematologist Dr. Martin is taking me off of the Danazol and Prednisone as we both agree that they are not working. I am also increasing the Exjade (this takes out the iron in my blood from the transfusions) and I will soon be starting a new medication if some tests come back positive. It will get my body making the blood so I am not so dependent on the transfusions by using some of the extra iron in my blood thereby killing two birds with one stone. I am hopeful that this will all go as planned but regardless, I am happy to be getting off of the Prednisone and Danazol as they have had me on an emotional roller coaster as many of you have doubtless noticed. I did have a really rough weekend a couple of weeks ago, all of it emotional stuff and I think it can be attributed to the meds, yet another reason to be done with them. Regardless of how this all pans out, I am excited to have new doctors and that THEY are excited to be working with me. I am scheduled for a bone density test in a couple of weeks and Dr. Martin wants to do another bone marrow biopsy (I can’t begin to tell you how much I am NOT looking forward to that!) so things are moving right along. Wish me luck!

We have very nearly got everything unpacked and found almost all of the things that were lost in the mix during the packing and moving. I have plans to build a new dining room table and matching benches and I am VERY excited to be back in the shop again, even if it isn’t my shop. I have started to work on the Simplicity and hope to have it working again soon as well. I am sure the neighbors will think me the laziest person on the block for using s riding mower to mow our little patch of lawn, I could probably do it faster with the push mower but it’s the process of bringing something back from the scrap yard that excites me. And I think it’s kinda cute too… I have not as yet done any more work on the truck as I have been busy getting things squared away in the garage. It is nice being able to park in there but I know it will be short lived, there is simply not enough room for both vehicles in there with all of our other stuff. Perhaps I can put more of the “stuff” up in the rafters above the garage but for now, the van will be relegated to the outdoors. Nothing new for it, just a lot warmer and no snow to shovel off of it in the winter. I hope to have it back on the road by my birthday next year, budget permitting…

The kids have started the school year with the new charter school. We get all the materials from them and we can enroll them in martial arts classes, music lessons, and dance classes among other things and the school will pay for it. So far they are adjusting well and I do not foresee any problems in the future. Molly is making friends with some of the kids in the neighborhood as well as Sarah’s cousin’s kids. I have started taking the dogs for walks in the morning (it gets way too hot way too early!) and I feel great! I am also starting a few other exercises as well trying to shed a few of these extra pounds. Dr. Martin says that when I get off of the Prednisone that will help too. It has also been great for the dogs, as they no longer have the yard space they once did and they have been getting quite restless. They also have little desire to go outside during the day because of the heat, and I can’t say as I blame them there either. I am going to try to get Sarah’s Dad’s dog Levi to work with them too. He is still very much a puppy and has tons of energy. My goal is to get them all to walk together and then I can take our dogs out to his house in the country and walk them all in the morning. The view is much more agreeable to me out there. Levi is a great dog too and I am glad that our dogs get along with him; he just needs to be socialized with other dogs. He has to learn his “place” in the pack so to speak.

Well, that’s about all I have for this month. It has only been a couple of weeks since I posted the last month’s update. I took a few photos of the kids out at Papa’s pool and I’ll try to get them uploaded to the Flickr page. I’ll send you the link when I get that done. Until next month, take care of yourselves and those around you.

All my love,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just wondering...

So this afternoon the kids and I were watching TV and Extreme Makeover Home Edition came on. The recipient family had lost their husband/father (6 children) to mold that he came into contact with while renovating their new (to them) house. As we watched the show, I sat there in absolute tears. I have never been afraid to show the kids my "soft" side, I think it does them good to see a man cry now and again. But this time was different. As I was crying, I could feel Connor and Molly's eyes on me, watching my reaction to the show. I am pretty sure that Connor knows what is going on with my... situation, but as for Molly, I really have no clue. I began to wonder what was going on in their little minds. Did they understand, I mean truly understand what was happening with the family on TV? Did they then correlate that with what is happening to me? Could they possibly comprehend a time when I would not be there for them? I can't even begin to think of how to talk to them about it... I certainly don't want to upset them, but they need to know, don't they?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated... I am totally at a loss here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A New Hope (July 2009 update)

Well, I am getting a bit of a late start on this months update as you can tell. Sorry if that caused any of you to worry, rest assured that we are all well. We are waiting patiently for our “stuff” to arrive in California. There has been some sort of snag with the company that is hauling my truck but I guess there always has to be SOME sort of conflict in every situation… human nature and all. SNAFU!

Let’s see, you may have noticed that I have given this month’s update the title A New Hope. I did this for two reasons. As you may recall, I was looking for something to call the updates besides well… updates and I thought that A New Hope was appropriate because we have moved here so far away from so many people that we love and care about (and that reciprocate that love) because we have a new hope for our new life here in Cali. I have gone into some of my varied reasons for moving my family here before and I would rather not go into it again. Suffice it to say that Sarah is closer, much, much closer to her family should she need that support. That is not to say that she would not have gotten such support from my family, but it just isn’t the same in such times of absolute crisis. That is all I have to say about that, as I don’t wish to upset myself thinking about it or to upset anyone else for that matter.

So the purging is complete and everything we own save for a few necessary essentials is on a truck somewhere between here and Michigan. It was hard to let some of the “stuff” go but in the end, we saw it as necessary and we realize that is will lead us to have so much more time and energy to devote to some of the things that we wanted to do. I think that sometimes in one’s life, there must be sacrifices made and that can be a very healthy part of the “life” experience. For my part, I now realize that I simply had way too many irons in the fire. I had sooo many projects that I wanted to work on at any given time that the barn was literally “walking room only.” I had to move things out of the way simply to find the pieces and parts of a given project and that led me to not want to work on any one thing in particular. I didn’t even want to go into the barn because it would depress me just thinking about the amount of stuff in there… Now, as we make a fresh start, things will be different. Now, with only a couple of projects to concentrate on, my hope is that I can actually finish one. I can get the parts out and work on it and know that they have a specified place to be put back in when I am finished working on them for that day. Wish me luck.

Now that things are settling down a bit here on the West Coast, I am starting to miss things as they were back home. The people, places and things that I knew are all so far away. I miss Seth most of all. I tried so hard to keep up a strong front while saying goodbye but when I held him in my arms and felt him start to break down, my connection with him really hit home and now I miss him so much. I miss real trees too, the kind that have been around for a hundred years and more. Big trees are a rare thing here in the central valley. I may have to make a trip to see the giant sequoias soon and get my “fix”.

Well, I need to get started on several projects for today so I am going to close now. I miss you all very much, but I know in my heart that this is the path I MUST follow. All is as it should be in Tracy’s world and the heartache and sadness will pass in time.

Take care and stay in touch, and that means you, you, and yes… you too. Write me a letter, email, or call me whenever. Just do it!!!

Peace and love,

Ok, sorry for making you wait but things have been a little hectic, as I have previously said. Having said THAT… please forgive the tardiness of this month’s update.

I would like to add a few things that have changed as of the first draft a couple of weeks ago.
First, we received our household goods and nothing was broken. Those guys were real top-notch pros and took really good care of us and our stuff. I commend them on a job well done. A big thanks to the American Legion for the assistance and for getting me a HUGE discount on the cost of the moving truck as well.

Second, My truck finally did make it here, and in one piece. I have not as yet tried to start it, I think the battery is dead again anyway and I have had health concerns to deal with. Chiefly getting a transfusion and getting things set up for future transfusions. More on that later. Back to the truck… I would most certainly NOT recommend All American Transport. Not that they did a poor quality job getting my truck here, but they DID wait until I was 2200 miles away from my truck to let me know there were some “issues” that would require additional fees… Had I not inquired about these issues ahead of time with their driver, I would gladly swallow my pride and have paid the extra money without complaint. HOWEVER… since I asked their driver at the time of pickup about the “issues” and was told there would be no problem, I feel like maybe the money should have come out of HIS pocket instead of mine… What is done is done though and all I will do is NOT recommend them to anyone else in the future. I WILL also be calling North American this week and letting them know about my “bad experience” with their recommended auto transporters. Nuff said…

Lastly and maybe most importantly, I met today with my new Hematologists at the Palo Alto VA and they are a WONDERFUL bunch of people. Very professional, very compassionate, and very easy to get along with. It was chiefly a get to know them, get to know me type of appointment so no real hard news as of yet, but I suspect that my meds may change in the near future as part of the discussion revolved around how long I had been on my current meds and how were they working. We touched briefly on changing them but no decision was made today. The main goal was to get me set up with a time and place for the transfusions and that will be finished up tomorrow with a couple of phone calls and a trip to the Modesto clinic to meet with the General Practitioner and get things set up for the blood draws. I am VERY happy with where I am and where I am headed with these folks. I think this is why I was led to make this move… there were better things waiting for me out here.

We are still settling in, the kids have started their new “school routine” and are getting used to that as there are some rather big changes there. We still have a bit of unpacking to do but that is happening and we are taking our time. Lord knows we did enough rushing around to get it packed, I think we have earned a little down time in unpacking it again.

For those of you that are prone to worrying, fret not. All is well with me and mine and only distance separates us. Nothing can take away the love that we feel for one another. Besides, now you have reason to visit the west coast and all the “weirdos” in California…

All my love to you, each and every one. Please write often, as I love to hear from you all. Until next month, may the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.


PS. I started a Blog a while ago and have since posted the “back issues” of the update there. Check it out here: I will be posting this month’s there as well as the following month’s. If you would rather read them there as opposed to via email, drop me a line saying so and I will try to get you off the email list.

I have not had an opportunity to take many photos lately so the Flickr page is on hold, but for those of you new to this update thang, you can peruse the older photos here:

I think that about does it, take care yall!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 updates thus far.

Here are the 2009 updates up until now. I will put future updates on here as I now know how to deal with the HTML issues that hampered me previously. Stay tuned...

January 2009-

So... what has been going on in my life in January? Well, for starters, winter arrived in a big bad way. It got COOOLDDD!!! Have I mentioned lately that I don't like the cold? I used too... but no more. So, I've been keeping busy inside trying to keep warm and not think about being cold. I have spent a fair amount of time in the basement cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing. Starting the new year cleaning up my life from the ground (actually a bit below ground in this case) and working my way to the top. For too long I've had too many irons in the fire, and the parts and pieces of those irons have been in the way tripping me up at every turn. It's hard to let go sometimes, but in the long run I know that if I don't let go of some of these things, I will never get any of them done at all. Wow, I am getting awfully philosophical lately eh?

I have also been on Facebook a lot during the past month, reconnecting with friends from High School and family (you know who you are) and I have been absolutely loving it!!! This has led me to look for old friends that weren't necessarily in my graduating class. I found Jason Pryor who moved away in 7th? grade and I only saw briefly once or twice after that. Then I found the best man from our wedding, Todd Dunn. He was a very good friend from the Air Force and I missed these fellas terribly. I have watched "the Secret" a couple of times and I just kept putting it out there that I wanted to reconnect with them and like magic, it happened! I can't explain it, but I promise you it worked and I'm a believer. Well met old friends and it's good to have you back, real good. I have, because I care about the two of you, included you in on this month's update. If you'd rather not receive these updates (approx. once a month) then just let me know and I'll remove you from the list of recipients. So, good friends, reminiscing about the good old days, oh! I uploaded some photos from back in the day to the Flickr page too along with some new ones. However, I could not upload any more as I have apparently reached the limit for free accounts as regards the amount of data I can upload. I guess I'll have to scrounge up enough money to upgrade my account to what they call "Pro" for unlimited upload amounts... Always something. Sometimes I feel as though I am single handedly bailing out the economy the way everyone seems to want my money. I wish the people that owed me would be as diligent...*sigh*

Well, there is more news and it may be saddening to many of you. No it's not health related, at least not in the respect that it means my health is getting worse. Sarah and I have, for various reasons, decided to try to move back to California. There it is. I said it. Some of you knew, and some did not. Please understand this was not an easy decision, but we think it's for the best for us as a family. (this is the part where I start to cry, damn emotions!) In the unfortunate event that I should not be here (and we have to accept that as a possibility) this would mean she would be with her family and not 2000+ miles away and looking at making this move on her own. I know that you all love her and the kids, and they know it too. But in all fairness, if you take a little time to think it through, it's not the same as being with your family in such difficult times. I certainly hope that I am preparing for something that is a looong way off, but just in case... I have to take care of my own, and I hope with all my heart that you can understand that.

Well, I feel better now that that is out of the way! (deep cleansing breath) So, Molly has another loose tooth, Kenyon is inventing like a mad scientist on Little Big Planet, and Connor is testing the teenage waters with some attitude. Sarah and I have started the P90 workout program (I am a bit ashamed to admit that she is further along than I, but I think that given the ever present 800 pound gorilla I live with, I am doing well) Also, the West Michigan Cancer Center offers some free classes for Yoga and Tai Chi that we are going to look into. I still go in for a transfusion every two weeks and yesterday was the latest with my Hemoglobin count at 7.6 (remember it should be from 12-16). I'd have sworn it was lower than that given my history as regards how I "feel" because the second week was rough, however I think it was just the workout program because two weeks ago it was 7.0 so I am calling that good news. I'll take every point I can get and if the exercising is helping, I can surely tough it out! If it doesn't kill me, it'll make me stronger... or something like that. I'd like to start taking the dogs for a walk too but it has been so cold that I have talked myself out of it thus far. (this would be the part where you all try to encourage me to get out there and do it!)

In other news, I have planned a spectacular Valentine's Day treat for Sarah and I... and it's killing her that I am not giving her any details.... Torture torture, I'm so mean! I have also started planning a weekend get away for our anniversary to Detroit where I have a couple of friends in and around the area scoping out some cool things for us to do. I'd like to send a shout out to Ame and Shad, thanks for your help in the anniversary trip department. And work continues on planning the trip to DC later this spring. Busy busy! Look for photos on the Flickr page as these things develop.

In photo related news, a pair of Bald Eagles has been spotted on the St. Joe River right here in town. I sense a stake out is in my future. I'll let you know if I can catch them in the cross hairs of my camera, this would be the crown jewel in my photographic career thus far. Sarah, the kids and I first saw Bald Eagles on one of our many trips to Rochester last year and they have remained in my thoughts ever since. I took it as a sign that they are watching over me, along with the Red-tailed Hawks that I constantly see around here and saw a ton of along every one of my trips to Mayo. We also saw some Turkey Vultures on one trip and my Mother-in-law had some in one of her trees the next day. In Native American folklore, they represent healing, and I think they showed up for me, all these birds. I like to think that all your prayers, best wishes, positive energy or whatever you have sent my way, brought them all into my life. There are powerful things working for me and though I cannot explain them, I accept them. Although a very large part of my healing must come from me, I cannot do it alone. I need you all, in whatever capacity you can spare. And know too that I love you for it, truly and wholeheartedly. Thank you. I'll let you know next month how my Eagle Vision Quest goes, wish me luck!

Well, that's about it for this month. As always, I look forward to your comments and questions so keep 'em coming.
Till next month, I bid you peace, love, and the company of good friends.
Love, Tracy

February 2009-

Good morning everyone, I trust this finds you all well, warm, and patiently awaiting Mother Earth’s re-awakening. I know I can’t wait to sink my fingers into the soil and bask in the sun while lying on my back in the grass…

Well, February was a month of extremes in my house. On Valentine’s Day, I surprised Sarah with dinner at the Black Swan followed by “Rain” (a Beatles tribute band) at Miller Auditorium. There has never been a more perfect evening spent by two people in love. We followed that in the next couple of weeks by each taking a turn passing around the stomach flu… not very much fun at all. So, as you can see, it has been a month of extreme highs and lows.

I do however have some good news though, my blood count yesterday was 7.9. It has been steadily climbing by .1 or .2 for the last few months. Not a huge accomplishment, but I will take it none the less. My next doctor’s appointment is near the end of March and I intend to speak with him about what this could mean. Please keep sending your prayers, positive energy, or whatever you feel led to (so long as it’s good) as I believe that helps the most.

So, I’d also like to share a little something with you that happened to me while I was sick in bed last week. I have been looking into and practicing putting what I want in my life out to the universe, like in “The Secret”. Sending out the vibrations of the things I would like to manifest in my life so that the universe knows that I am ready to receive them. Then, while I was in bed with the flu (it may have been fever induced) it occurred to me that one of the things I had always wanted, I had already received. See, when I was a little boy growing up on the farm, I really wanted a little brother. Don’t get me wrong now, I love Becky, but toy tractors, bikes, and Star Wars action figures are way cooler then Barbie dolls and Smurf’s. I wanted someone that would build a fort with me, and then defend it from marauding Indians, someone I could show how to spit for distance, to catch frogs down at the pond, little boy kind of stuff. Now, fast forward 25 years or so, and I got one! As it turns out, my biological father has three other sons too, and one of them wanted to be a part of my life. Wow. I realized the other day that what I had put out to the universe (I never really stopped wanting a little brother) finally manifested itself. I got my little brother.

This past fall, as many of you know who follow these emails, I took a trip up north to the U.P. and spent the weekend with him. We even spent a couple of days together when he was down here last summer and we got to spend a day on the water fishing with our kids. How cool is that? Now I spent plenty of time with Becky when we were growing up and I will always love her too, but it’s just not the same somehow. I can’t quite put my finger on it, can’t put it into words… just different. I even used to load her and the cane poles and a can of worms from under the silo feeder into my Radio Flyer wagon and pull it all down the lane and cross Pulver road to the pond and we’d spend all afternoon fishing for Bluegills, or I should say she’d spend all day fishing! My job was to take the fish off and re-bait the hook while she caught another one with the other pole. Good times too… good times. I guess the point is this, never give up on your dreams, and keep putting them out there to the universe. Some things take time, plain and simple. And anything truly worth having is worth waiting for.

Well, that’s about it for this month and a far cry more than I thought I’d have to say.

Hope to see you all down at the fishin’ hole this summer. Until then, tune up your rods, restock your tackle box, and dream of warm sunny days on the water. I know I am…


You get a line, I’ll get a pole baby.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole gal.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole,
Meet you down at the fishin hole.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole… baby.

March 2009-

So, here it is, the end of March. What a roller coaster ride this month has been. First the weather turning warm enough to tempt me to hook up the disc and tear through the garden and start sewing seeds, and then right back down to freezing a few days later. I guess I won’t complain too much. All of our snow is gone and has been for a while now, the river got pretty high but I never even had to think of sandbagging our house to save it from flooding. Things surely could be worse and they’re not, and for that I am very grateful.

It is early here in River City and I awoke to an indescribable urge to simply get up. I know that doesn’t make much sense, and it didn’t to me either until the fog of sleep cleared from my head. After I was up and moving around a bit, and after a generous amount of orange juice, thoughts started to pop into my head. As I awoke, I sat at the edge of the bed trying to decide why I was awake at this hour. I finally decided that I would try to go to the bathroom and see if I could go back to sleep afterwards. On the way from the bedroom to the bathroom, a funny thing occurred to me. I had walked this particular route hundreds upon thousands of times. It may not seem like much to you, but it hit me like a revelation… I mean, I boldly walked through the darkness, bare toed and with out a second thought to the safety of those little piggies. I strode through this house with all the confidence in the world that my path was clear before me. The kids know by now that the Lego’s stay upstairs (the most prevalent enemy of any bare foot is a stray Lego!) and even the dogs know not to lie in the path that joins these two rooms. This place, this home, is very familiar to us all. With the exception of a few years where we tried to make a go of life in California before, this has been home. The place where I have thus far raised my children, buried more than a few pets in a quiet spot in the back yard. I have put my heart and soul into this house and I had such dreams and visions for our future together. A new kitchen, bathroom, an addition to the barn… but now it is time to let those things go. I can no longer give this place what it needs, what it deserves. In a way, I guess it’s like letting your child go and make his or her way in the world on their own. I have done what I could, the best I knew how to do but in the end, this part of my journey has run it’s course and it’s time to move on. I will miss this place to be sure, there are a lot of very fond memories here, the kids first steps, the first time they rode a bike without training wheels, the bonfires out back, Connor sneaking out through the dog door to pick blueberries before Sarah and I woke up one morning… in his diaper! The list goes on and on and I will take those with me, but go I must. Someone sent me some words of wisdom recently that in effect said “God has great things in store for each of us, but sometimes we have to let some things go so that we are ready to receive them.” I have held onto a good many things for quite a long time and always thought I’d have the strength to carry them all while picking up other stuff along the way. I now know better… and I am more than willing to let all of it go for what is in store for me, my hands are empty and I am willing to receive. I know I will not get more than I can handle, and that if it seems like it is more than I can handle, help is only a phone call away.

In other news, there has been a rather nasty flu bug making the round here and I think we are finally getting the upper hand. I knew I was truly sick when I was cold, I never get cold. We still have perhaps a few more days to go on the road to recovery, but I can see the light at the end. The worst part of all that is the fact I am at the end of my two weeks and I need another transfusion. Yeah, that’s a bit much… but no one ever guaranteed that life would be fair did they? At least it will be over and done with by my birthday and most importantly to me, our anniversary. Not that they are particularly momentous ones, like my 40th birthday, or our 20th anniversary, but I have a new perspective on the world. I don’t feel like waiting for the big ones to roll around. I want to make the best of the ones I am given and if the next one rolls around, so much the better.

I also have some rather sad news to pass along. Gandalf the Gray (our cat) passed away rather unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. He is already sorely missed. I have had to resort to traps in the barn to catch the mice and even caught one in the kitchen just the other day with the trash bin door! It tried to escape when I opened it to throw something away and as I slammed the door shut (ok, I’ll admit that is was more in surprise then any killer instinct) I just happened to catch his tail between the door and the jamb. Sarah was kind enough to “rescue” him and then let him go outside… but should we ever cross paths again, I will know him by the crook in his tail and he would do well to steer clear of me. I thought long and hard about whether or not to get another cat and after much discussion with Sarah, it has been decided that we should wait until we get to California. We think that two St. Bernards and three kids is enough for such a long trip. Work also continues on trying to find new homes for the rabbits and the chickens, I have had a couple of bites on both accounts but nothing concrete.

Well, that’s about it for this month. I added some more photos to the Flickr page a couple of times during the past month so check them out. I will add some more in the next week or so as well as I once again hit the max for a free account. (sigh) If you have any questions, feel free to write or even call. I will make no promises save one, I will do my best to answer them. And as always, if you know anyone who you think should get this, please feel free to pass it along, or if you do not wish to receive this, speak up and I can fix that too… no hard feelings, honest.

Until next month, stay healthy and know that you are in my thoughts.

Love, Tracy.

April 2009-

Well, here we are, already into May and there is still no slow down in sight. Sarah and I started off April with a BANG! by getting away to Detroit for our eighteenth anniversary. Yeah, eighteen years… wow. It seems like just yesterday that my palms were sweating as I stumbled through trying to ask her out. Now, nearly two decades, three states, two dogs, a host of cats and three of the most wonderful children I could have asked for later, we are still going strong. Stronger than ever in fact! We stayed at a rather swank hotel as there were few other options, something about some final four hootenannies or some such. Friday night we met a friend of mine from high school that I had not seen in twenty years and had dinner at perhaps one of the nicest restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of attending and she picked up the tab. Then Saturday we went to the Henry Ford Museum and spent the better part of the day perusing the stuff there. Sunday was spent just puttering our way home along US-12 through the occasional rain shower and stopping along the way now and again to paw around in some antique stores. No treasures to be found but a good time none the less.

I also celebrated my 38th birthday, though no real accomplishment there save for the fact that I am in fact still alive. It all was kind of a blur as I had my sights firmly set on the anniversary celebration. I have started a little project, I am making a list of the 38 things I would like to accomplish before my next birthday and will be making a journal of sorts to keep them all together. It’s just in the list stage so far as many things are being packed up and I certainly don’t need to be starting another “project” just now.

On the issue of “The Big Move”, acquiring new health insurance was the big stumbling block and it looks as if that has been resolved. I had emailed a few of the in-laws in Cali. to see if they could ask around and find a recommendation for a new hematologist/oncologist. Long story short, one of Sarah’s Aunts got wind of our dilemma and is in the health care profession and made a few phone calls, sent a few emails and called in a few favors. All this led to both Sarah and I having appointments at the VA in Battle Creek this coming Wednesday and it looks like a done deal for us getting signed up through them for health care. I cannot tell you what a relief that has been, and how much we both appreciate it, thanks again.

Now for the cats, as you may recall (or not) our cat Gandalf passed away rather unexpectedly last month. Almost immediately mice started showing up in the kitchen and we all began to long for a new feline companion. We had initially decided that we would wait until we were settled in out in Cali. but plans being what they are, we soon found ourselves scouring the local shelters and rescues for a new cat. What did we find? Well… not one but two lovely cats at the St. Joe County Animal Control. We struggled for a few days to name them with all of us coming up with some of the silliest names until finally I decreed that we would let the cats decide what their names would be. The larger of the two came into heat a day or two after she came home and would do this little dance all about the house so Wiggles is her name. The other is quite content to lay in your lap for hours on end and give you the cutest look at every turn, a look that is cute as a button and thus Button was named. They always seem to know the proper name for themselves, no matter what we think.

As for the rats and turtles part of the month, we were visited Friday morning by a painted turtle, a lonely muskrat and a family of Canadian geese. There is a pond and a swamp some ways behind our property and it struck me as somewhat curious that all these “aquatic” creatures had all come to our house on the same day. We have had plenty of rain and in fact the water levels in the area are still rather high so why they would have all left their “comfort zone” is still a mystery to us. Perhaps if I had more time I would investigate the matter further but for now, I am content with the answer that they just came for a visit, all on the same day…

I started collecting all the camping gear I could get my hands on and checking it all out for leaks and to make sure it all functions as it should. We leave in just over a week for our next great adventure as we travel to our great nations capitol to see the sights and take in all its majestic history. We have even made tentative plans with Sarah’s friend “secret squirrel” for our tour of the White House. Keep your fingers crossed that maybe we get to meet somebody famous! I am excited too to finally get to go to Colonial Williamsburg. I have wanted to see it for as long as I can remember and I hear they have one of the premier “period” cabinet shops around. Who knows, maybe Roy Underhill will be there too and I can scratch two of the big items off my bucket list. Wish me luck on that too…

I also had yet another long lost friend from my Air Force days contact me through FeceBook. We had a wonderful conversation that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, well over two hours! It was so good to hear his voice again and he still sounds just the same, even after all these years.

Well, that’s about all I can think of, as if that wasn’t enough for one month! May looks to be even busier with June and July even more hectic than that! So much sorting and cleaning, packing, selling, even giving away to those in need. Continuing to pay it forward so that others may have it just a bit easier in their times of need, and lets face it, there are going to be many such times in all our near futures. Let’s all do our part to help each other out and see ourselves through these rough times. Before you know it, it’ll all be just a memory but hopefully one we can all learn from so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. Well, enough of that, we all know what to do so just do it.

In closing, I would like to say to all of you that I miss you and think of you often. Yeah, all of you. I have plenty of time on my hands to do just that sort of thing. I have made some plans to get together with some of you and I have had a wonderful time doing so. Still others I have run into just doing what I do about town. I have an idea for the very near future to see yet more of you and I hope to finalize those plans after our trip. I’ll keep you posted as this develops so stay tuned. I am also looking for suggestions for a new title for the monthly update and I have received a few suggestions from some of you already. Thanks for those and keep em coming.

I love you all and miss you more than you can know. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Peace, love, and happiness… Tracy.

PS. If any of you have saved any of the past updates and can forward them back to me, I would appreciate it. My intention is to put them all together for the kids to have and look back on sometime in the future. Thanks.

May 2009-

Hello everyone!

I hope this finds you in good health, good spirits, and good company. May turned out to be more action packed than I ever could have imagined. We spent two wonderful weeks in and around Washington D.C. For the first part of the trip we camped in Greenbelt, Maryland at Greenbelt National Park. The campground was wonderful and we were able to see lots of deer (I know, something you NEVER see in southwest Michigan huh?) and a red fox kit as we drove through the park. A hawk swooped down through the trees right in front of me while I was walking, and we heard a barred owl hootin’ it up at 5:30 one morning. Except for all the ticks that we picked off of ourselves and each other, the wildlife was most agreeable.

Each day we drove a few minutes to the Metro station to hop on the train and head into D.C. proper, where we enjoyed touring the Smithsonian’s Museums of Natural History, American History, and Air and Space, and the National Zoo. We also saw the monuments to Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson as well as visiting the WWII Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. When I was in the Air Force I purchased a POW/MIA bracelet that honors the missing heroes from Vietnam, as does the wall of the memorial in D.C. I didn’t have the bracelet with me, but the name on it is forever etched in my memory, so I was able to find it on the wall. I made a rubbing and paid my respects to A1C Stuifbergen, who was also from Michigan. It was a very sobering reminder of the cost of war… We also went to Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. The dedication and commitment of the soldiers who volunteer for this honor reflect great credit upon our brave young men and women who serve today. These fellows are truly the best of the best and it shows. Also of note, as it was close to Memorial Day, we saw hundreds upon hundreds of American flags placed in front of each and every headstone in the cemetery. This is done every year to honor the nation’s fallen. A truly humbling experience…

The campground started getting crowded on Memorial Day weekend, so we decided to pack up our camp and drive down to Williamsburg, VA to see Colonial Williamsburg, something I have wanted to do for a very long time. When we arrived there we got some rather good news, due to it being Memorial Day weekend, and the fact that Sarah and I are veterans, we all got in for free! That saved us over a hundred dollars. Good news indeed. After leaving Williamsburg we drove a bit further east to Virginia Beach to spend the night, and we woke up very early the next morning to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

After our side trip to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, we met up with John Roberts (Sarah’s friend from high school who happens to be a Secret Service Agent) and he showed us around some of the nicer spots in D.C. that the locals know about. We visited the National Cathedral, which was simply breathtaking, the Air Force and Marine Corps Memorials, Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot, the Secret Service Headquarters, and the Naval Observatory where the Vice President lives. We toured the command post for the VP’s Secret Service detail and the kids got to sit in the bulletproof limo. Kenyon actually sat in the driver’s seat! Very cool. The next day John chauffeured us down to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. Sarah was very excited to see the home and gardens of her favorite President. On our last day in D.C. we got an exclusive behind the ropes tour of the White House. We saw parts of it that are only seen by the residents, honored guests, and the select few people who work there. My favorite room was the Presidential theater where the first family gets to watch movies. We were told that filmmakers send the White House copies of every movie that is released before they have even premiered. We sat in the front row seats and I was informed that the seat I sat in was the very seat that the President sits in. For a brief moment in time, my butt was the most powerful butt in the world! I am sure some of you would say it always was…

We also were shown the China room, with place settings from Presidential sets of china all the way back to President Washington, and the Diplomatic Reception room, where the President meets with visiting dignitaries from all over the world. While we were in the China room, the Agent who was giving us our tour pointed out a private restroom and said we could use it if we wanted to. Well who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to pee in the White House? Not any of my family! I found the White House to be an incredible place to visit. It is part residence for the first family, part museum, housing some of the nation’s most unique and valuable treasures, and part office building. I certainly feel more patriotic after having been there.

After getting home, we immediately started to prepare for my brother Joe to arrive from the Upper Peninsula. He came down to spend the week with us before we move to California, and to pick his son Austin up at the airport in Chicago. We spent the majority of the week fishing on Fisher Lake and in Constantine on the bridge over the St. Joe River. We did really well with Connor landing a 4-1/2 pound largemouth bass (The jury is still out as to whether dad or Connor is more proud), and Joe and I met up with Brandon (another brother) for cat-fishing, and I landed the biggest catch with a fish that came in at 30 inches long and weighed 12 pounds! More importantly, we all came away with memories that can never be lost. I always wanted a little brother, turns out that I always had three and although I am getting a late start on spending time with them, I am making up for lost time real quick. It makes me wonder what the get-togethers between Connor, Kenyon, and Molly will be like in 25-30 years… I hope they have as much fun as my brothers and I did.

Well, with just about seven weeks left until the big move, work can now begin in earnest. There is still a lot of “stuff” to go through and we have to decide what goes with us and what goes to someone else. Then we can start packing things up and get things in motion. All of the loose ends seem to be tied up now so all that is left is to get things around the house packed and/or gone. No small task to be sure. Wish us luck!

Medically, there remains no significant change. Before our vacation, the doctor gave me an extra unit of blood so I am not sure if my hemoglobin count is still rising slightly or not. Don’t worry, I am keeping a close eye on the numbers and will keep you all informed. I just keep on keeping on, and as with our vacation, living life like there is no tomorrow because let’s face it… there truly are no guarantees are there? So don’t just wish you could do it, find a way and make it happen!

Until next month, I hope I get a chance to visit with you and I love you all and would love to hear from you,

PS. There are more photos on the Flickr page from D.C. as well as my fishing fun here at home, so go check it out. and check back later in the month because I still have more photos to post.

June 2009-

June 2009 Update

Hello again everyone. I am getting a bit of a head start on this months update as I just got home from my Survivor Lap at our local Relay For Life. I wanted to take this opportunity to write down some of the things I experienced today and to share them with you all.

I first got just a bit before 10am which is when the event kicked off. After signing in I put on my new Survivor t-shirt and tried to mentally prepare myself for what lay ahead, I could not have known… I stood on the track during the opening ceremonies and looked around me at all the other purple t-shirts. There was a fair number of people there… surviving! But as I looked around, I began to notice that there was no one there like me. By that I mean they were all old and many of them looked like they had been run through the ringer at least once. What was I doing here? Why was I on the track as a Survivor? I felt like I didn’t belong there, like it should not be me. Then, they asked that all the caregivers go to the other side of the track and wait there for their survivor to meet them half way through their lap. Suddenly I was alone, surrounded by people that were alien to me. Feeling as though I didn’t belong. Then we started to walk and I found solace in doing something. Feeling like I was going somewhere at least.

As we neared the half waypoint of the lap, I started to look for Sarah. When I saw her, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Like I suddenly knew that I could make it, no mater what obstacles may lay in my way. As we started to walk together though, I looked over at her by my side and I saw her crying. This was the first time I had seen her cry because of my being sick and I felt so much guilt that she should have to go through this. I know it’s not my fault. I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this and neither did she, but it still hurts to see her have to suffer through this. I would endure all the transfusions and bone marrow biopsies a thousand times over just to keep her form having to go through this. That made the last half of the lap extremely hard for me, but I endured. I SURVIVED! And I will continue to survive.

Well, it is now July 2nd and I am trying to finish this to get it out to you all before it turns into August… Work continues on sorting and packing everything in the house and barn. It is quite a task, but we are keeping at it. We hope to have a ‘packing party’ here on the 1st of August with maybe a hog roast to reward everyone for their help. Watch your email inboxes for further details…

We have sent the rabbits on to a new home as well as ½ of our flock of chickens; the other ½ will follow them tomorrow. The vintage travel trailer that was left here has also found a new home as well as a few odds and ends around the house. So, just over three weeks and counting and work is shifting into high gear. So much to be done, so much to get rid of. Things that I haven’t laid a hand on in over a decade along with things that I really don’t want to get rid of. This will truly be a brand new start and I look upon it with a mix of emotions. It feels so good to be rid of some of the clutter and I look forward to keeping the new place clutter free. But, some of the stuff I had such plans for and now it must go. I am sure there is a lesson to be learned in all this, but at times I find it hard to find that lesson sometimes. There are a few things that I am holding onto very closely. Things like my old truck. It holds a lot of memories and it is my hope that it will help me to create a lot of new memories for Sarah and the kids and I. It occurs to me that maybe I need to get rid of some of the things that I want to keep because I have not been able to focus on any one thing like my truck. My attentions were spread too thin among too many things. Maybe, if I only have one or two things to focus on, I can finally get them completed instead of dragging them out. I’m going to go with that, sounds good.

I did accomplish one thing this month; I put together a photo book and got a couple of copies printed. It has been getting rave reviews from all who see it and I had an opportunity to show it to the owner of our local downtown bookstore and he asked that I bring it into the store so he can look at it further. I am hopeful that maybe he wants to get some copies made and try to sell them. That would give me a great sense of accomplishment. For so long I have just sat around the house with no purpose for being here, no sense that I contribute to the household other than to pay the bills and that is just a check in the mail. By that I mean that I don’t feel that I “earn” that money. It’s hard to explain I guess…

Also of note, my brother Joe was down for a week and stayed here with us. It was the first time that my brother and I got to go fishing just the two of us. I also was given the opportunity to meet with my other brothers Derek and Brandon. Brandon joined us on the bridge in Constantine a couple of nights for some cat fishing and I caught the largest one (warning, blatant boasting follows!) which was 30 inches long and weighed 12 pounds! By far the biggest fish I have ever caught. Joe and I took Connor, Kenyon, and Molly out in the boat and Connor caught a large mouth bass that was over 4-1/2 pounds! That for me was by far more special than my own fish. There are a few photos that I will (eventually) upload onto the Flickr page. Perhaps tomorrow… we’ll see. I would like to say thanks you to Brandon and Derek for spending time with me and to Joe for all the memories that he and I have made with my kids. I waited all my life for a little brother to play with and I finally got three! Not that I was or am unhappy to have been given a little sister, but a brother is somehow different. All this business of finding my siblings has brought a lot of emotion as well as raising more questions than it answered. I no longer want to explore the past. I realize that I cannot change the past and even if I could, it would only change who the players in this game are anyway. I am happy to let the past be what it is and work toward building upon the future. I may not have grown up playing cops and robbers with my brothers, but I did get to go fishing with them. And my kids know them and are excited whenever I tell them Uncle Joe is coming, of we are going to see Uncle Brandon and Uncle Derek. You simply can’t replace that.

Well, I think that’s about it for June. On to July and all it’s new adventures as we prepare for our new start. A new home in a new place. Well, it’s not a ‘new’ home and the place is rather familiar to us, but neither has been our home. I am excited!

I love you all and I hope to see you soon.