Monday, November 25, 2013

Taylor's First Blog- My Oldest Daughter's Perspective

November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving is drawing near and I thought it would be a good idea to write what I am thankful for. First of all, I am thankful that my dad had the oppurtunity to go to the Northwestern hospital in Chicago and have the stem cell process done. So many amazing things have happened to my dad since this process. Also, I am thankful that my dad is healthy and able to be more involved in me and my sister's life. I am thankful that no matter what,even when he was going through the tough stem cell process, my dad will always have my back. Not only is he my dad, he's my best friend and nobody could ever replace our relationship. I am thankful that my dad's happy and we feel like a family again. I honestly don't know how to explain the feeling but before he went to Chicago our family didn't feel complete when we went to the mall, restaurant, and basically everywhere away from home. Now I feel that "whole" feeling again in my heart. I'm not just going to talk about my dad on this one, but I am thankful that I have an amazing group of friends that have been there with me through everything. Through the summer, they definitely had my back while my mom and dad weren't here with me. I love you guys:) I am definitely thankful for my grandma who watched me while mom and dad were away. The main thing I'm trying to say is that I really love my dad and appreciate everything he's done for me. I also really appreciate everyone who has supported my dad and family through this time. Thank you. 

Taylor Hinkle, age 10

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Cough

November 18, 2013:

Well, Saturday marked 4 months since my transplant. Things have really progressed well for me. I am happy to report that I am regaining my strength and stamina. My sensations in my feet and legs seem to be holding steady, but I have definitely seen a remarkable improvement in my arms and hands. While in Chicago, Ann would have to type the blogs and now she is only responsible for proof reading my ramblings. However, my recovery did hit a little bump in the road this past week.

Last Tuesday I developed a cough deep in my chest. You know the one that sounds like a fog horn and leaves a burning sensation through your chest. Yeah, well that was the one. It kind of startled me how fast it came on. Typically, I am not one to run to the doctor for every little cough or sneeze that comes my way, but this one snapped me into action. I feared it would be pneumonia. I knew sitting out on those cool nights watching high school football would come back to haunt me.

Wednesday morning I called my family doctor and they got me right in. They scheduled me for 2:30 and my mom graciously drove me the 14 miles. We arrived about 15 minutes early and found a spot in the waiting room. Now, those who know me best understand that patience is not my strong suit. Every click of the clock sounded like bombs going off. Tick...Tock...Tick...Tock. Finally, after a mere one hour wait my name was called.

The first order of business was a step on the scales. Lately, this is not something I am proud of doing. Begrudgingly I obliged the nurse. Looking at the numbers on the scale kind of startled me. It read 228. Could it be ounces? NO! Could we have converted to some "new math" in order for ObamaCare to allow citizen to keep their current health insurance? NO! The facts are the facts; I have gained quite a bit of weight. I need to own up to that and develop a strategy to start shedding some of these unwanted pounds. More on that to come later...Now back to the actually doctor visit.

After nearly 2 hours, my doctor entered the exam room. This is the first time I seen him since I returned from Chicago. He was more than willing to listen to my adventures in Chicago. He also did an excellent job of scouring through my chart to ensure that he was up to date on all my blood work. Once he was satisfied with all the information he order a rapid strep test. Which to my delight came back negative. He then listened to my lungs and determined the sounded good and strong. Then he determined that I most likely was suffering from an inflammation of my bronchial tubes (AKA bronchitis). Doc prescribed me an additional antibiotic, some cough syrup, and a nasal spray. Two days later I woke up feeling like a new man.

This past week has been a reminder of how delicate my recovery can be. I had been feeling so good that I had become a little lax on my sanitation regimen. I need to take some extra precautions during the cold and flu season. I need to do a better job of washing my hands and not leaving the house without my hand sanitizer. Wash...Rinse...Repeat. That has to be the motto.

Finally, it is important to remember that quitting is easy. I have had several moments in my life that caused me to truly consider throwing in the towel. It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves. It is easy to blame others for our short comings. It is easy to not take responsibility for our actions. You know what, I probably got bronchitis because I was sitting out in the cool fall air week after week watching high school football. I am fine with owning up to that. What we need to remember is, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).

Do you know how hard it is to rejoice in your sufferings? Yay, I am so happy to be sick, bedridden, and alone. Really? This is not an easy task. This is something that takes practice. With this month being November and a time for giving thanks, I challenge you to look at the positives in your life. To see them as true blessings and to rejoice in those blessings. This is a difficult task to do day in and day out. We must be mindful of it because negativity will sneak in if we do not keep our guard up.

A special gentleman that lives near me has been an inspiration for me this week. He suffers from MS and does in a way that I cannot help but admire. Although I am yet to meet him I am asking that you keep Ken in your prayers. Get well Ken.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Too Good to be True

November 11, 2013

It was about this time last year I decided to take a leap of faith and contact Northwestern University. I remember thinking this was all going to be some cruel practical joke for some new reality TV show. Opportunities like this do not present themselves to people like me. But, then after reviewing my medical records Dr. Burt and his staff wanted me to go to Chicago for an evaluation. Now I had it figured out, this was going to be the part where I get Punk'd. Typically, if something is too good to be true, then it probably is. Well, not in this case.

Since my transplant, July 16, 2013, I have steadily continued to improve. This past weekend is a huge indicator of how far I have come. On Saturday, Ann and I took the girls to an Ohio University basketball game. No big deal, right? Well, in order to get into the gymnasium you have to walk up a fairly long and steep ramp. Last year when we went Ann nearly passed out trying to push me up the ramp. This year I just slowly plodded my way up the ramp.

Then once we were inside we had to climb up a series of stairs to get to our seats. Last year we had to sit in the handicap section because I could not navigate stairs at all. This time, I had quite a since of accomplishment sitting in the stands watching the game. After the basketball game my day was only half over. One of the area high school football teams was hosting the first round of the playoffs so I had Ann drop me off at the stadium. When I finally returned to the comforts of my home Saturday evening, I had put quite a few miles on my legs.

Sunday morning came and I just knew I was going to have to suffer the consequences of my actions. After I woke up and got moving I was surprise at how well I felt. Neither my legs or back were overly sore. It was as if I was ready to put in another full day. Of course, at my own pace.

To put an exclamation point of the weekend, Sunday evening I loaded up my daughters and headed to the grocery store. Armed with the list Ann provided, the girls and I buzzed up and down the aisles. I think it would be safe to assume that it has been well over a year since Ann did not have to go to the grocery store.

Once again, I am stunned at how well my recovery is going. For this coming week remember, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). A friend I graduated high school with reminded me of this verse this week. She has two auto-immune diseases and still found the strength to complete a 5K run. I will be completing my 5K next year.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tis the Season

November 4, 2013

I am sure when you read this week's title you thought, "WAIT!!! Thanksgiving is over 3 weeks away and Christmas is more than a month away." Well, you are right, because that is not the season I am talking about. Tis the season for the flu.

Today my oldest daughter came home early from school because she was not feeling well and running a fever. The good news is that Motrin seems to be keeping the fever down. Poor Taylor has been quarantined to her room. We have had a good run on health considering all the germs that get passed around at school.

This got me thinking about the flu season and how it can affect me. I am not going to debate the issue of whether or not you should get the flu shot or not. I have done my research and I do not get the flu shot, but Ann and the girls do. It is important to do your research and make the decision for yourself.

Now, what I have been noticing is that since my stem cell transplant is that I do not have very many hairs in my nose. It has been nice to not have to worry about trimming nose hairs, but I have lost a natural filter. The main purpose for nose hairs is to assist in filtering the air we breath in. If you have ever changed an air filter on a vehicle you get the idea. Here I am with a filter that is not working as it should and I am left vulnerable to all the impurities that my nose would have filtered. The lack of nasal hairs could lead to an increased incident of sinus infections and upper respiratory infections. This is just one of my theories. I wanted to share my ideas, but I am sure that someone out there with a higher IQ than me could dispute my theory.

The next observation stems from the cold Ohio weather. A couple of weeks ago I was at a football game. It was a clear night and there was quite a chill in the air. As I was sitting there watching the game I noticed that my nose was starting to run. Instinctively I began looking for something to wipe my face with. Luckily there were some napkins and hand sanitizer nearby. My nose continued to run the entire time. Wipe. Wash. Repeat.

I then began watching a group of elementary boys playing football behind one of the end zones. Kid after kid wiped his nose on his sleeve or with his hand. Then they were passing the football and I could literally envision the germs being transferred from one boy to the next. It was just kids being kids, but I have learned that most germs are past through contact.

As winter begins to close in on Ohio, I need to be a little more cautious. Even though I feel good, I have to remember that my body is still fragile. My immune system is still growing. I also realize that as hard as we try to develop better hygiene habits it is inevitable that someone in this house will get sick at some point. I need to realize that I can only control the things that I can control.

Finally, I wanted to share another side effect I have been experiencing after my stem cell transplant. For the past 2 months I have been experiencing it and I was not sure how to handle it. The side effect I am referring to is gratitude. I bet you thought it was going to be some flesh eating bacteria. Everyday I wake up I give thanks that I am alive and able to accomplish tasks that are typically taken for granted. The walls that I have built around me have been knocked down and I have never felt better.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This is a verse I pray on daily. It reminds me that no matter what I go through as long as I have hope I will have a future.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sitting on the Sidelines

November 2, 2013:

As a teenager having CIDP my sport days were very limited. I never had the opportunity to hit the winning home run; I never experienced the thrill of hitting a buzzer beater to win the game; and I never scored a touchdown under the lights on a Friday night. Sitting on the sidelines is a place that I have grown familiar with.

I have never been one to dwell on the things that I cannot do. One of my greatest qualities has been my ability to put my head down and push through adversity. Even when people tried to drag me down. To reconnect with my competitive spirit I began coaching. Coaching filled a void in my life. It made me feel like I had a purpose. It also gave me a higher level of accountability. While coaching, I was not only responsible to my family; I was also responsible to the young men that I coached.

Tonight I watched a wonderful group of young men play their final high school football game. This group of young men have forever touched my heart. I had the opportunity to coach many of the young men on the team. These young men have preserved where many have fallen away. In terms of wins and losses, our football team has not experienced the full fruits of their labor. When others told these young men it was a waste of time; they did not listen. They were their uniforms with pride.

After the game, knowing that my former players had played their last game, I was overcome by emotions. It seems like just yesterday that I was standing before a group of immature pre-teens with high pitched voices. Then tonight, seeing what truly great young men that have become, my emotions ran over. Even as I write this there is always a memory that pops in my head the makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.

To Garrett, Stephen, Will, and Cody may you always stand strong in the face of adversity. May you always be men of honor and humility. May the character that you have shown these past four years continue. The values you have developed over the past four years will carry you all to greatness. Finally, may you all have the impact on the world that you have had on me and my family.