Update: 6/6/20 – A Taste of Normalcy

Some good news is that my son Ramsey got tested for the COVID-19 virus and was negative so he could come home from Seattle to stay in our house. Because of my precautions, I cannot have contact even with my own children. Now, he is here to isolate with me.

I’m excited today because I got my sailboat back on the water. I love sailing and I loved sailing before I ever got on a sailboat or bought one. Since moving to Anacortes 17 years ago I asked everyone I knew, everyone, “Please take me sailing?” They all nodded their heads like they would but there was never a taker.

Then my kids got me a fantastic birthday present a few years ago. One of the American’s Cup sailing yachts was in Seattle and for a price would give you a ride (along with about 20 other people). It was great sailing around Elliott Bay with that many people clinging to the, almost vertical at times, deck. . . a few of them were even sober. I was amazed that no one fell into the water as you had to hang on to any hardware or line that you could find as you slide from port-side to starboard and back again.

Then I took a sailing class. It was three days on the water. After I had my certificate, the marina let me rent their sailboats. I only did that twice due to the hefty daily rental price.

I looked at buying decent sized sailboat. I would have been willing to give up owning a house and live on it. Denise did not like that idea or the idea of being a boat owner period.

Then, by accident we moved to a house on a lake. I felt like it was a must to have a boat if you live on a lake, right? Denise, the frugal person that she is (and who has kept from probably going bankrupt because of her frugalness) said our kayak and paddle board should suffice. So, soon after we moved here, and when I was bringing in a decent income myself, I went behind her back and bought a beautiful hand-made wooden Whitehall sailing-rowing boat from the famous wooden boat school in Port Townsend. I got to use it during the summer of 2018 and sailed it almost every day after work. Then cancer struck in January 2019 and the boat never saw water again. . . until today! Here’s the video:

My boat takes a major (non-human) role in my new novel Ristretto Rain, which now should be on the market by the first week in July.

I wish that normalcy meant feeling completely normal. I would put that at about 75% with still significant neurological and GI issue, probably related to the chemo.

Now marks a major milestone as one year ago this week I got my bone marrow transplant. The time has flown. I had serious doubts that I would still be alive at this juncture. But I’m here. I also can’t believe that I’ve been off dialysis for one year. My kidneys are still only a mouse’s whisker away from requiring dialysis and I pray every day that I can move closer or even 50% of normal kidney function (it is about 30% at this time).

Marking the anniversary of my transplant, I will start two weeks of thorough testing of my cancer and immune system. I have a couple of markers for my cancer that we have been following (M-spike and light chains) which show that the cancer is there but in a partial remission. The new tests will show it a little more clearly. Of course, we had prayed that the bone marrow transplant would have eradicated the cancer completely, and it did not.

If my immune system is better, I will also start my basic childhood vaccinations.

I ask for prayer that, as always, my kidneys would improve, that my torturous neurological and GI symptoms would improve. I pray also that my tests will come back fine. I am also distraught a bit about my continuity of care. Because of COVID-19, the cancer center in Seattle does not want to see me back (they are the ones that suppose to do the 2 weeks of testing). It looks like I’m loosing my local oncologist again and it has been hard to keep them on the track of my care.

I am still, as my last posting suggested, still trying to deal with this huge void in my professional life. I have been a busy PA for 38 years and suddenly I don’t have a job (not by my choice). I am starting to try and find a place to restart my headache clinic and would have done that already if it were not for COVID-19 and the extreme precautions that I must take.

I do love writing and would be very content if I could write “for a living.” I don’t mean to have a good income from writing but a fan base of 1,000 people would be enough to sustain my work and motivate me. Selling 1,000 books doesn’t come close to covering the cost of producing the books. But like any artist, you want someone to enjoy it. I am working hard to make my writing better and better. I am now in the middle of an online creative writing course. I read or listen to every good book that I can. I have tireless labored over Ristretto Rain, working closely with my editor, trying to make it the very best it can be.

I’m looking at other creative outlets. I want to build a stone cottage on the lake we live on. I am thinking about doing a podcast series for PAs or any medical provider about the empathetic practice of medicine. Now if God will only grant me the time on this planet to do those things.



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4 responses to “Update: 6/6/20 – A Taste of Normalcy”

  1. Bravo! We’re a sailing family. There is nothing like feeling the wind on your face and against the sails. It’s addictive! The Whitehall is a beautiful little boat. My sons grew up on the water and went to sea in their teens to earn a living. After years at sea one had a family and became a nurse – with a sail boat. My younger son (now 39) is still on the water, captain of the research ship, Western Flyer, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. We all still love being on – or in – the water.


  2. Wonderful Mike. Can almost hear Rod Stewart’s “I am Sailing” across the waters of your beautiful lake in your sailing boat. So thrilled to hear your son is now staying with you!


  3. Hello Mike —
    Congratulations on sailing!
    You have such a positive, courageous attitude, which I think is so important in the fight you are engaged in.
    You have had quite the journey, and it continues. You are in my chants and prayers.

    You are also in my thanks giving, You see, five years ago I had open heart surgery, and had to fight back to health. I will never be as I was before, as my heart took a beating. And I woke up from surgery with heinous migraines with aura. I was blessed to find your clinic and be your patient. Your suggestion of upping my magnesium has made a world, and I mean a world, of difference to me. It has decreased the frequency and intensity of migraines significantly and given me some normalcy. Not a day goes by but that I send you my deepest gratitude.

    Good for you for your writing! I look forward to reading Ristretto Rain!
    And have fun out on the water.


  4. Glad your son will be able to be with you and that the lake nurtures and brings joy.
    I encourage you to find some arrangement to do virtual consultations.
    Your perspective and wisdom are important to the headache community.
    It is now more common to do medicine on line.
    Payment seems to have become more routine.
    love in every breath


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