My blood sugars continued to be erratic, but I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist at Shands named Michael Clare-Salzler in early December, and adjustments began. My R insulin was replaced with Hemalog, and the balancing process began. Dr. Salzler and I began corresponding by E-Mail, with me sending him the five daily readings on a weekly basis, and him sending me the adjustments indicated. My afternoon readings have continued to be high on a fairly regular basis, but have come down considerably. A reading of over 200 is now a high reading, not the readings over 400 which I experienced two to three months ago.
I also received an appointment Dr. Robert A. Skidmore, a specialist in the Skin and Cancer Center at Shands, since some of the medications attendant to a transplant make you far more sensitive to the sun and far more likely to develop a skin cancer. At the appointment, Dr. Skidmore entered what he referred to as the "monkey-picking" mode, where he picked over my skin to examine all moles. The one which had concerned me and my wife was of no concern. However, he found one on my chest which he had removed and biopsied. When I asked what the chances of bad news were, he said that there was a 20 % chance that it was simply a mole, a 50 % chance that it was a basil carcinoma, which is cancerous, but which will not spread and is easily controlled, a 5 % chance that it was a melanoma, which is the really bad one, and a 20 % chance that we would never know what it was, but that it was not cancerous.
I fell into the 50 % category and was scheduled for a "cut and burn" session which, unfortunately, is exactly what it sounds like. There was no pain either during the procedure or afterwards, but the smell of my burning flesh was an experience I do not look forward to repeating. I will be seeing him every six months for a check-up as a precautionary step.
Both he and Dr. Salzler have done nothing but increase my admiration of the staff at Shands who deal with transplant recipients. Both were personable, took time with me, and - in the case of Dr. Skidmore - had an outrageous sense of humor with which I immediately identified.
Beyond the medical issues, Diane is fully recovered in Maine, and we correspond on a regular basis by snail mail as well as E-Mail. We exchanged Christmas presents, and hers were wonderful, being handmade and personal, with the exception of a copy of "Arsnic and Old Lace" which we both enjoy. Her sense of humor remains intact, and I have gotten to know her better than I had before. She is a remarkable and talented woman who, clearly, has a heart as big as anyone I have ever known. I still say "thank you" regularly, but feel that it is insufficient.
My wife and I are grandparents again, as Alexa Skye Langley was born to our son and daughter-in-law on December 11. We went up after Christmas to visit in Corydon, Indiana, and she is a beautiful granddaughter (of course), and let us hold her and feed her and do all of those grandparently things which make life so full. We also enjoyed time with our older granddaughter, Kelly Ann Whitesides, over Christmas and kept her overnight as recently as the first Friday of the new year / century / millineum. She was, as always, a doll and so very grown up.
Before Christmas, we spend a week at Sandals Grand Bahamian Resort and Spa at Cable Beach near Nasssau. It was wonderful, and gives new meaning to the term "all inclusive." Not only were food and drink included, tipping was not even allowed! If you wanted to sail, the boats were available at no extra charge. Scuba and snorkeling, with equipment, were available on a daily basis. Eight themed restaurants met all of your eating needs, and all of them were excellent.
I had contacted Sandals about the need for a refrigerator for insulin storage, and their response was to upgrade us to a room with a mini-fridge and bar at no extra charge. Champagne, wine, beer, mixers, and four bottles of liquor were included and updated on a daily basis.
It was a perfect celebration of the three month anniversary of the transplant, and I was able to enjoy limited desserts without blowing my blood sugar readings out of all reason.
Clinic still comes on a regular basis, but less often than it was originally. I have gone from twice a week to once a week to once every two weeks to, basically, once a month. The regularity will continue to lessen over a period of the coming months and years. There have been no rejection episodes, and my only medical problems were the headaches early on, blood sugar which leads to fuzziness in the extremities and the other common signs if it gets too high or too low, and an occasional cankor sore which requires special medication, but which reacts wonderfully as soon as the medication is initiated.
As I sit here on January 10, 2000, and write this update, I am approaching four months after the transplant, and cannot believe how uneventful the whole process has been. Again, I feel nothing but thanks and good feelings for all of my doctors and nurses, for my wonderful wife, Pat, and the remainder of my family which has been totally supportive, and for Diane, who made September 14 possible.
The year 1999 was an amazing one for me. It encompassed surgery, dialysis, a transplant, and the recovery from the transplant. I will keep updating as events warrant, and only hope that someone else has had as positive an experience as I have enjoyed through these amazing times.