Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Triathlon - Maine, Old Orchard Beach (REVOLUTION3 REV3TRI) | REVOLUTION3 Triathlon (REV3TRI)

My sister Rhonda, my wife Crystal and I just signed up to relay this race.  We will be doing the Olympic.  Rhonda is going to swim, Crystal bike and I am going to run.

Triathlon - Maine, Old Orchard Beach (REVOLUTION3 REV3TRI) | REVOLUTION3 Triathlon (REV3TRI)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1 Year and Counting

During the month of November, we celebrated my one year bone marrow transplant anniversary.   Crystal made a birthday cake and her, I and the kids celebrated my first birthday with my new immune system. 
I was also released by the doctor to return to the office full time.  It is an amazing feeling to be contributing to society again.  I have signed up for the gym.  I have been running at lunch.  Over the next month I am going to start swimming again.  I am also mixing in P90X and weight training.  It feels good.  Really good!

I still have not grown my hair back.  Paige keeps asking when it is going to grow back.  At this point, we are starting to wonder if it will grow back.

Last weekend I spent time with my 3 best friends.  It was the first time we have hung out in a long time in proper fashion.  These are the kind of buddies that when we all get together, we retell the same stories from 15 years ago.  You know the stories.  We all have them.  Every time we tell the stories, they get funnier and funnier.  We sometimes do not all see each other for years at a time.  When we all get together though, we pick up right where we left off.   True friends are always there for you and these guys have always been there for me.  Thanks guys..

When I was discharged from the hospital, the doctor told me that I had to start weaingr a Medic Alert bracelet to let emergency personnel know that I have had a bone marrow transplant.  It is bright orange to symbolize leukemia.  A friend recently asked me how long I needed to wear the bracelet for.  I told her forever.  I then thought about my response to her.  I followed up my response to her by saying something like. "This bracelet is a good reminder of the important things in life. Occasionally, the bright orange catches my eye and regardless of the type of day I am having, I am reminded how lucky I am."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Race Recap and Health/Life Update

Had an awesome time at the Mainiac Tri.  Crystal and I relayed the Tri.  Our good friend Katy did the duathlon.  Her brother Jon also did the duathlon.  This was his first Tri.  On the way to the race on the highway, the rear end of his truck locked up while he was going like 60MPH.  His truck skidded out of control on the highway and eventually came to a screeching halt.  Luckily he was not hurt.  There was also a State Trooper right behind him.  The trooper said he was pretty sure he was about to witness a serious accident!  Question is, did he make the race?  He sure did!  Hard core John!  He called his wife and she came to pick him up off the highway to continue on to Biddeford.  I think he got there about 5 minutes before transition closed.

Crystal did great on the swim.  Since she was relay, she got thrown into the first wave.  It was the men's 18-35 age group.  She was worried about it, but she did great.  She had a great transition and also a great bike.

When she came back from the bike I was more than ready to start running.  My goal was to break 30 minutes on the run.  During training getting ready for this race, 38 minutes was my best time.  Before leukemia and the transplant, I could typically run a 5K in 22 minutes.  Since this was my first relay, it felt weird to wait around for my "turn".  I took off way too fast, but it felt great! I was actually competing in a race.  I wasn't sure this would ever happen again.  I had my heart rate monitor on because I knew I would be pumped and have difficulty pacing myself.

Sure enough, after about 5 minutes, my HR was between 177 and 180.  My "normal" race HR is 165-170.  I slowed down a bit and got my HR back into the 175 range.  As the 10 minute mark passed, I was starting to get worried.  I had not passed the 1 mile marker yet.   I picked up my pace a bit.  HR was cresting back up to 180.  I continued that pace until about the 15 minute mark.  The water station appeared as I rounded a corner.  There were mostly young kids there.  I asked what mile we were at.  One of the girls said, "Mile one I think".  I thought to myself, there is no way I am going to break 30 minutes at this rate.  As that reality started to settle in, I saw mile marker 2.  Looks like the water station was actually at mile 1.5 or so.  I looked at my watch and it was at 18:04.  I was pretty sure at that finishing under 30 minutes was going to be a possibility.

My pace picked up and up.  As I passed mile marker 3, my HR was 185.  I picked up my pace again.  It felt unbelievable.  By the time I crossed the finish line, I was pretty much at a full sprint.  After I crossed, I glanced down and my HR was at 192.  I have never seen it so high.

Crystal and the kids and my in laws were waiting for me at the finish.  The kids had made a big sign that read "Our Dad beat cancer, now he's back in the race!!!"  It was a tearjerker moment to say the least.  A year ago, I was in the hospital just finishing up my first rounds of chemo and dealing with the reality of being diagnosed with leukemia.

My recovery is going very well.  My doctor says that I am ahead of schedule.  My counts are still low compared to a "normal" person.  This means I am still very susceptible to catching something.  I still should not be around sick people.  I wash my hands constantly and am always carrying hand sanitizer.  When I go into the hospital for check ups, I still need to wear a mask and gloves.  It is a reminder every time to me that I am still sick. (Even though I feel great).  I still have little to no hair.  Not sure what is going on there.  I have yet to gain much weight yet.  I am still under 150.  I am eating everything in sight with no problem.  I am still limited to 1 beer a week.  This could also be contributing to the reason I am not gaining any weight.

On the work front, I have been cleared to return to the office 3 days a week.  I will work Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the office and Tuesday and Thursday from home.  It will be nice to get out of the basement home office!

Crystal is doing the Dempsey Challenge next weekend.  Saturday, she is running in the 10K and Sunday, she is riding a 1/2 century.  (50 miles)  She needs to raise a few more donation dollars or will have to pay from her own pocket.  Here is the link to her fund raising site. Dempsey Challenge Donation Page

Also, our friend Matt Wallace and his wife Freja Folce were recently involved in a bad car accident.  During a rainstorm,  an oncoming vehicle lost control while passing a car and crashed head on into Matt's car.  Matt broke both arms and both legs.  He is a tattoo artist and as such, may be out of work for some time.  A donation page has been setup.  Here is the link to that site to make a donation.    Donate to Matt.  Click on the PayPal icon and specify "Matt Wallace Fund".  Thanks!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just Signed up for a Race

I just signed up with Crystal to do a relay for the Mainiac Triathlon.  It is a Sprint distance tri.  That is 1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run.  It is on September 17th.  Crystal is going to do the swim and bike.  I am going to run.  Our team name is "The Dynamic Duo".  My goal is to break 30 minutes on the run.  In the past, I would not be happy about 30 minutes, but would be psyched if I could pull it off now!

For training, I have really just begun.  I am running 15 minutes every other night on the treadmill.  I go from 0% incline for 1 minute to 3% incline for 1 minute and alternate on the minute for the 15 minutes.  Next week I will increase to 20 minutes, 25 the following week etc.  On nights I am not running, I am doing 15 minutes on the bike trainer.  Next week I will increase to 20 minutes, 25 the following week etc.  Everynight, after the run or the training, I am doing 15 minutes of weights and abs.

I am gaining a bit of weight.  I am up to 146-148.  It varies day by day.  I am trying to eat better and take note of what I am putting in my body.  I want to gain about 10 more pounds, But would like them to be "quality pounds".

Here is a link to the Maniac Triathlon website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

9 Months Post Transplant

Next week marks 9 months post transplant.  I am still working full time from home.  Next week, I have been cleared to go into the office 1 day a week.  I cannot wait.  I am starting to gain some weight and muscle back.  Training is going slow to say the least.

Crystal had her Tri For A Cure race last week.  I put together the attached video of the race...
Tri For A Cure Video

Also, just wanted to encourage people to donate to a local family.  Their young son was recently diagnosed with leukemia.  You can get more information from their Facebook page located at Jeffrey Davis Fund

Monday, June 20, 2011

220 Days Post Transplant and Loving It

Haven't posted in a while.  Been busy with work and life.  My recovery continues and I am feeling good.  At the time of my last post, I was working 6 hours a day from home.  I am now up to 40 hours a week working from home.  It feels great to be using my brain again!  Paychecks are cool too!  If all goes well, I may begin working a few days a week from the office as early as next month.

My chiropractor has asked me to stop running until he can get me straightened out.  I was up to running a full 5K.  I was extremely sore though and getting bad migrane headaches.  He has been working on me over the past month and I have noticed a huge improvement in my posture, less headaches and less overall body aches.

I am eating pretty much everything I was before transplant, but just can't seem to gain any weight.  After the chiropractor finishes up this routine, I am going to hit the weights and protein and work on building some muscle back.  That is the kind of weight I am looking for.

Also over the last month, I attended my 20 year high school reunion.  It was great to see friends that I have not seen in years.  It is funny how easy it is to talk to friends you have not seen in years.  It is like there is a connection there that can never be broken.  It is priceless and I  had one of the best times I have had in years!

My Dad is still battling his cancer.  This fathers day was particularly tough for me.  His spirits are still up, but it is extremely tough for me to be around him.  My Mom is doing her best to be a caregiver, but she is not equipped to mentally and physically handle all the details.  My sister Rhonda has stepped to the plate and I cannot express how much that means to Crystal and I.  I am not dealing with this phase of my parents life very well at all.

I want to thank again my wife Crystal for being there for me over the last year.  I realize how hard it has been on her as the caregiver and basically being a single parent.  She had a lot of help , but it definitely took its toll.  Coming out this side of the process, it has strengthened our relationship 10 fold, but it takes it's toll.  I love ya hun!

The role of caregiver is a thankless job that no ones signs up for.  If you know a caregiver, treat them to a night off.  They deserve it and they will appreciate it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Training, Work and Life

Been a while since my last update.  Been busy living life!!!  I set a new post transplant PR today.  I ran 2 miles in under 30 minutes.  Does not sound that impressive, but it is a huge milestone for me.  Also, I ran the whole 30 minutes with no stopping.  Yehaaaaa!

That being said, today was the first day I got back on the treadmill in several weeks.  My leg muscles have been extremely tight for some reason.  They feel as though I have been running everyday.  You know, that soreness that is always there when you are training hard.  Problem is, I have not even been training.  I have a Dr. appointment this week in Boston and will see what the doc has to say.

Things at the Davis house have been hectic to say the least.  We are replacing all of our flooring on the first floor with hardwood.  Crystal has wanted hardwood for years.  She is now getting it under the pretense that it does not hold dust and dirt like carpet does and will make the house healthier for me.  She always gets her way :)  Crystal also wanted to paint.  I said "Have at it Hun!" 

So, she has painted the whole downstairs, removed the baseboard, ripped out the carpet and we now have a lovely AdvanTech floor.  Our neighbor does hardwood and he is coming over this week to install for us.  Can't come soon enough.  All of the hardwood (30 boxes) is stacked throughout our first floor to keep it room temperature.  The place looks like a bomb went off.

On the work front, I am now working from home 6 hours a day.  I have increased from 2 hours a day over the last month.  I am getting back up to speed.  The company and my staff has been great during my return to work transition.  We are pretty busy with close to 50 IT related projects slated for 2011.  I would be worried, but have a great team of people and great support from management.

Baseball season is underway so Nolan has been busy with that.  We have been working with him on his batting skills and he has really improved at the plate this year.  Now it is time to focus on the fundamentals of catching and making good throws.  Here are a few pics....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bike Fit

Aside from going to a bike shop to be fitted, can anyone give me any advice on my bike fit by watching this video? 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog it, And it Will Be

So, my training is sucking to say the least.  You cannot even call it training.  Running 1.5 miles once a week.  What the hell is that??!!!

I typically work out at night after dinner.  The problem is that I am usually exhausted by the time dinner is finished.  So, I am going to make time during the day or before dinner to work out.  I am going to alternate between the treadmill and the bike trainer.  I am going to workout 6 days a week for 30 minutes at a time.  I am going log my miles on Daily Miles (Orange widget in right hand column of blog).

It seems to be extremely easy for me to blow off workouts and blame it on being tired and blaming it on my transplant.  That is bullshit.  I am just being lazy.  Anyone can do anything for 30 minutes,  I vow to all blog readers that I will work out 6 days this week.  I am writing this in hopes that it will force me to workout.

We got a new camcorder this week.  Playing with it the other day and came across a sure sign of Spring.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going Back to Work

We finally got word from my doctor that I could return to work.  After being out for over 8 months, I am pshyched to say the least.

The plan is for me to gradually build up to 40 hours a week from home over the next couple of months..  I am still waiting on final approval, but it looks like I will start working 2 hours a day, 5 days a week from home on April 18th.  I will do that for 2 weeks and then go to 4 hours a day.  2 weeks and then 6 hours a day.  2 weeks and then 8 hours a day from home.  I am very fortunate to work for a company that has held my position for this long.  Thanks PWD!

As far as training goes, I am slowly making progress.  It is frustrating as hell to only be able to run 1.6 miles in 30 minutes.  I used to do close to 5 miles in 30 minutes.  My progress this week was 1.5 miles in 30 minutes to 1.6 miles in 30 minutes.  .10 mile improvement!!!  I have added a little widget in the right hand column of the blog where you can track my training if you are really bored.  Right now, the numbers are not to great.  They will improve.  I will run a 5K this year and I will finish in under 30 minutes. (maybe if I type it, it will happen)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Am I a Cancer Survivor Yet???

When I was diagnosed in August of 2010 with Leukemia, Crystal and I were shocked to say the least.  Our whole world was slapped in the face and kicked in the ass.  It was an extremely difficult time.

I immediately went on high dose chemo and was in the hospital for over a month.  At the end of the month, we were told the leukemia was wiped out but could come back.  I was released and after 1 week, I had double vision and a rash.  The leukemia was back and now attacking my central nervous system - ya know, my brain and stuff... 

Another round of high dose chemo with several rounds injected directly into my spine so the drugs could make it to my brain. OUCH.  Also, brain radiation.  After almost another month in the hospital, I was sent home being told the leukemia was gone.  That was October 2010.

Since that time, I had a third round of high dose chemo,  full body radiation (I should just go help out at the nuclear plant in Japan, the damage is already done to my body) a bone marrow transplant and gallbladder surgery.  I have not been checked to see if the leukemia is still in remission.  They closely monitor my blood chemistry.  If something is off that may be an indication of leukemic activity and they will do further testing.

It has been six months since anyone has told me I have leukemia.  If you read about my form of leukemia, AML M5 with CNS involvement, on the Internet, I should not be in nearly as good of shape as I am now.  I did not find one successful outcome with my type of leukemia.  Not one.  Looks like I may be the first successful outcome.  Maybe they will feature me in the New England Journal of Medicine. :)  I do know that I still get extremely tired each day.  A mile on the treadmill feels like a 10K.  The doctors say that my endurance will improve but will not be what it was pre-leukemia.  As far as I know though, my new immune system is working like a champ.  It is seeing those leukemic cells in my body and is destroying them.  I do feel better everyday.  My taste buds have returned and I am gaining some needed weight back.  I am hoping to return to work soon.  I have not worked since August.  That being said, I still lay in bed at night and wonder though, is the worst behind us??  I certainly hope so!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Germs and Public Spaces

Me and Nolan.  I am starting to see a little hair growth.
So, now that day 100 has come and gone, I am able to go into public places.  The theory for the first 100 days was my immune system was too weak to visit public areas.  The only public place I went was for check ups in Boston at Dana Farber.  On those days, I wore gloves and a mask into the clinic.  It makes it pretty easy to see my fellow bone marrow transplant patients.  We all have masks and are skinny.  We are bundled up because we are always cold.  Whenever I put on the mask, I think of the Bob Marley (local comedian)  routine where he is talking about his father going through the Wok Inn drive through.  Employee says, "Why you wear mask???"  Bob's fathers reply "Love the food, hate the SARS."  It is a bit dated, but still funny.

I am now able to go into semi public areas without a mask.  In the last couple of weeks, I have been able to visit the Dixon's and my parents.  I have been able to goto Nolan's school and meet his teacher for the first time.  I have been able to pickup Paige at daycare.  I have gone into the office to take care of a couple issues.  I have gone to the grocery store, convenience store, Reynolds Sportcenter and Rite Aid.  It has been amazing!!  It is crazy how the little things make such an impact!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Eating, Training and Project Management

The last couple of weeks have been great.  Food has begun to taste good again, I am gaining some much needed weight back and as a result, my energy level has increased.  All the parts finally came in for our treadmill and I have begun putting in some time on it.  It feels good to actually break a sweat again.

Since I am still not back to work, I still have a bunch of free time.  I am going to do some online training.  I am going to work towards getting my project management certification.  As an IT Manager, can anyone recommend which project management certification would be most beneficial?  I am leaning toward CompTIA + Project.

Crystal signed up for the Tri for a Cure again this year.  There is a link to the right to make a donation toward the cause.  This year they need to raise $350.

Also, Crystal and I wanted to say congratulations to Shana and Chris.  We are so happy for you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 100

So, today is day 103 post transplant. This weekend, I was able to eat carry-out pizza for the first time since transplant. I asked Crystal to pick up Pizza Hut, but she ended up getting a pizza from Lowes. It was OK. I am not crazy about their sauce.

Over the past week, food has begun to taste better to me. I can eat almost anything I could before the transplant. It is such a great feeling. I am even putting some weight back on.

We finally got our treadmill put together (almost). We purchased a treadmill for me to build my strength back up and get some exercise. It came in with about 10 broken pieces. We called the manufacturer and they shipped out the broken pieces. They said once the parts come in, they would send someone to come out and put the treadmill together for us. So, we called when the parts came in. We then were told the technician would call us. After a week, no call. We called back and finally get a hold of the installer. He says he will be here in 2 weeks to install. So he comes out in 2 weeks to install. He makes it clear he is not here to setup the machine as the manufacturer had told us, only replace all the broken pieces. Arghhh. I ended up setting up the machine. Come to find out, we are still missing pieces. We ordered the thing at the end of December. Do not order direct from Proform. They suck!!!!

The sheild

Nolan's pink cake.
One more quick story.  A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a cake for Nolan’s Cub Scout awards banquet.  I was told it had to be a Viking theme.  He had just made a round red Viking shield with a snake on it.  I thought that would be perfect.  Well, come find out, it is almost impossible to make red frosting.  I used almost a full thing of food coloring, and the frosting still came out pink.  We later found out it was a cake competition.  Poor Nolan had to walk into the Den meeting with a pink cake with what looked like a white turd on top.  Poor kid…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 100 Approaching

So today is day 95 post transplant. Day 100 is a pretty big milestone the doctors say. Once I pass day 100, I am out of the woods as far as being effected by acute (possibly fatal) Graft vs. Host disease. Now over the next months, I need to look out for chronic Graft vs. Host. Typically chronic is not fatal and treatable with meds. Could effect my skin, my eyes, intestines etc.

According to the doctors, Right now I am doing great. I feel great aside from the occasional lack of energy. I am anxious to get back to work! The days are getting pretty long and boring. Here is my typical day:

  • Get up at 6:30AM to help get the kids ready.
  • Bring Nolan to his grandparents at 7:00AM to get onto the bus.
  • Return home and have breakfast. Typically a raspberry toaster strudel.
  • Take pills.
  • Watch Judge Judy, Judge Shapiro, and Judge Joe Brown.
  • Take pills.
  • Watch various cooking shows while in and out of semi-conscious state on the couch.
  • Awake with hunger pains.
  • Make a shake from vanilla ice cream, peanut butter cups, protein powder and sugar and have that for lunch.
  • Cover up on couch with my heating blanket because I am now freezing from the ice cream shake.
  • Drift off to sleep again with the heating blanket keeping me nice and cozy.
  • Awake and realize Crystal will be home soon.
  • Unload and load dishwasher.
  • Make bed.
  • Fold laundry – hope it is only towels in the dryer to fold. Much easier than Nolan and Paige’s in-side-out laundry that comes out of the dryer.
  • Fold and organize blankets on couch to make it appear they were not used all day.
  • Go pickup Nolan from Grandparents. 4:00PM 
So, as you can see, I have a pretty action packed day. I have a pretty eventful week this week though. Today, I need to submit some medical reimbursement paperwork, on Wednesday; I will be bringing old clothes to the Goodwill drop off at the dump. (Dump closed Mon and Tues). Thursday, I will need to let a technician into the house to work on our treadmill.

I will say it again, I am anxious to return to work in some capacity. The doctors are saying that by April, I should be able to return in some fashion. I am glad February is a short month!!




Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 74 Update - How Time Flies

Just wanted to drop a line to everyone to let you know what I have been up to. Well today is day 74 and I am feeling great. I just had a checkup in Boston yesterday and got good marks. They have change my checkups in Boston from weekly to evey two weeks. My blood counts are where they should be and I am showing no signs of GVHD. (graft vs host). My eyebrows, lashes and facial hair are returning. Crystal is making fun of me because they are coming in so thick. My instructions today from her where to update your blog and shave that damn thing off (my mustache).
0 Degrees.  Fool we saw on bike in Boston

Yesterday, we went and visited my parents. It was the first time I had been to their house since I went to Boston. I am not supposed to visit other people’s houses due to risk of me catching something. Crystal and I decided that we could make an exception to go to my parents. No one has been sick in their house lately and if you know my Mom, you know how spotless her house is! It was good to get out of the house and see them.

Work also extended my Medical Leave until April. This is great news on many levels. Hopefully by April I will be able to ease my way back into the real world and actually begin to interact with people again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Only 1% of the old Chad is still kicking...

A couple of weeks ago, I had a test done that tests my immune system to see how much of my immune system is my old defective immune system vs. my new donor’s immune system. Normally at this point, the doctors want to see at least 85% to 90% of the patients immune system as the donor's. Mine tests out at 99% donor. This is great news. This means the transplant is taking and setting up shop in my super sexy, boney, 150 lb elderly looking body.

We also found out that we can now stretch out our check-up appointments to every 2 weeks. This is great news. We will now only need to go to Boston twice a month vs. every week.

Even though my counts look great, I continue to struggle with eating. I think the worst of that is behind us. Certain food tastes better at times. I am having about 2 milkshakes a day to get some calories in. If they didn’t already have enough calories, Crystal bought the calorie packs that are nothing more than 330 calories. She had to buy them online.

In an effort to start to regain some muscle, I decided to setup my bike trainer in the basement.  Only 2/3's of our basement has been cleaned well enough for me to inhabit.  My bike was in the the furnace room.  This is a room that is strictly off limits due to dust and grime.  But, I wanted my bike...  so I held my breath, ran into the furnace room, dug to get to my bike (covered with Christmas paper filled trash bags awaiting their trip to the dump) and also grabbed my biking shoes.  By the time I was setup, I was already winded.   I ended up getting a 10 minute ride in.  Felt like 20 miles.

I still have no hair.  My eyebrows are starting to come back along with some sort of mutant mustache.