News from Ian McDowell

Below is a message from College Hill resident Ian McDowell. He has happy news to share with friends and neighbors. 

Good news and thanks!

According to my last lab report, “the patient seems headed towards a quick recovery.”  I don’t know if “quick” is the right word, considering that I was laid low for four months, but my blood count is almost normal, I no longer have night sweats, my appetite and sense of taste are back, and I’ve regained 20 of the 50 lbs I lost.  I’m still weaker than I was, and although walked for 2.6 miles twice yesterday (with a two hour break in between), which is something I couldn’t have done a few weeks ago, I still can’t run more a couple of dozen yards.   And I can’t lift nearly as much as I could before my hospitalization.

But what I CAN do is work, at least on light duty, and I should be going back to work next week.  My company’s HR specialist helped extend my leave for another 30 days, something they rarely do and didn’t have to do (only the first 12  weeks were guaranteed by the Family Medical Leave Act) and my job was thus kept “safe” until the end of April,with my doctor finally approving me for work then.  I was really afraid I was going to lose the job, and if I’d not been able to go back to work by April 31st, I would have.  My insurance expired in March, but it will automatically start up again in May if I’ve returned to work by the end of the month.

Nobody knows why I’ve gotten better, which is almost as scary as the fact that nobody knows for sure where my anemia and fatigue came from (they’re not normal after effects of renal failure, or at least not normal when they start after one’s kidneys are again functioning normally and one has been out of the hospital and feeling increasing better and stronger for a month, as I’d been doing in January before this stuff started in February).  At one point my doctor actually feared cancer, but the hematologist took another look at my bone marrow and ruled that out.  His best guess is that this was a delayed after effect of the massive hit my system took in December, when the antibiotic zithromax knocked out my kidneys and I was in the hospital for 15 days, and that as such it would get (and is getting) better on its own.  He actually theorized this possibility when my hemoglobin count was at 8 (it had dropped to 6 earlier, forcing me to be hospitalized again for a transfusion, and it was expected to fall again).  And sure enough, a week and a half ago it was back up to 12, just below the normal of 14.

So, it’s a good thing this fundraiser DIDN’T meet its goal of $55,000, as I’d have rather more than I needed.  The goal was based on my (and Anya’s) fears that they weren’t going to discover a cause, much less a cure, any time soon and that I might have to go to the hospital in Chapel Hill or Duke to see if they could figure it out, would have to get COBRA since my insurance had expired, would lose my job, and have to live on disability (which even if I got it would have been half of what I’d been making when employed). And if that had happened, even meeting the goal would have only have paid my rent, utilities and (most expensive of all) COBRA payments and the medical bills COBRA didn’t pay for a couple of years.

As it is, with the combination of what the Fundraiser raised and the separate donations I got via check and PayPal, I should be okay.   So thank you, thank you, thank you.   Thanks to the friends who contributed, and to the strangers who did after hearing about this from people like Ed Cone and Neil Gaiman.  I hope this reaches you; in some cases you’re anonymous and I don’t know who you are.

Forever grateful and hugely humbled,

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