On December 21, 2009, Michael was diagnosed with AML or Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He was admitted to University of Maryland and treatment began. He was declared in full remission on 1/6/2010. He then had many months of treatments with ups and downs, but, after 21 months, life returned to normal.
At first, Michael went for checkups every 3 months which eventually stretched to 6 months. In March of 2016, (which was supposed to be the last six month checkup, with the next checkup schedule for one year later) Michael's blood counts were a little low. That was the beginning of the path that has led us to the brink of a bone marrow/STEM cell transplant. Of course, Michael being Michael, his symptoms were unique! After much collaboration with other doctor's, Dr. Baer, Michael's oncologist, gave us the diagnosis of MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome).
MDS is characterized by low blood cell counts and the production of abnormally shaped red cells, white cells and platelets. It is a disease of the bone marrow and in some cases is mild and manageable with little intervention. With Michael's history of AML, intervention is necessary. If the disease is not treated it will develop into AML. And a relapse of AML will be much harder to cure than MDS.
And so here we are, facing another challenge. Having been through chemotherapy before, Michael is most definitely not happy about going through it again. He will also be undergoing radiation. The hospital stay will be at least 30 days, perhaps longer. For the first 100 days post transplant, he will need someone with him 24/7 and he won't be able to drive. He's not happy about any of that! Yesterday, when we were discussing things he said, "I'm 51 years old, will I really need a baby sitter?" My answer was, "Well, yes, yes you will because you do not follow medical directions very well and if someone is here with you, you are more likely to comply." He just showed me the Geiman stubborn face and didn't say anything more.
The children are older this time, so they understand more of what's happening. We've all been working together to prepare as best we can for the time when Michael is inpatient at University of Maryland. Michael and I explained to the boys that we want them to continue to concentrate on their school work; dad being in the hospital is no excuse to slack off. We also want them to continue to be involved in Boy Scouts and to do the other things they enjoy. This is most important for Matt because he has a tendency to withdraw from life when he is scared and/or worried. Thankfully, their therapist (they've been seeing her for grief counseling since my mom passed away) decided to continue to see them even though she retired from private practice at the end of 2016! She's been a great help to all of us!
I know that all of you have been praying for Michael and our family. God has been so good to us! He continues to provide for our needs in so many wonderful ways. I ask that you continue to lift Michael and our family up in prayer. Every night, when I tuck the boys in, we pray that Michael will be completely healed from all disease and that he will feel healthy again very soon.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.