|With Mike (not pictured!), Brodie and Lorna last Saturday|
Hello friends and supporters....it's been about a month since I last posted, so time for a quick update. In the health department, almost everything is good news....still no signs of cancer returning, but I am still struggling with 3 annoying things....1) my immunoglobulin levels are still low (but rising!) - I get an infusion once a month to boost this - it's an element in the immune system that involves anti-bodies...2) my sinuses are infected (again) - I saw an ENT specialist a couple of weeks ago and he's got me on a couple of antibiotics to try to clear me up. This is clearly a persistent thing that is just hanging around a lot...and beginning to be a concern, in terms of how we get rid of it for good...it's probably part of what caused the fevers I had in November and December. 3) I've developed a chronic neck pain (of all things) over the past many months, that will not go away. My neck sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies. It hasn't kept me from doing anything, but the fact that it won't clear up is becoming, yes, annoying. So all that adds up to "I'm doing sensational".
I'm getting accustomed to the work routine at IBM, but my recent fevers and continuing sinus infections have kept me off of airplanes for the most part. Planning for the big hike - 250+ miles in total - is well underway; Mike and I have done 4 training hikes, one every other weekend. I can really feel the improvement in my feet, hips, and shoulders. I wasn't sure if I could prepare my body for 10 miles a day for 25 days, but it seems that there is a lot of muscle and joint memory even with 2 weeks off between hikes. In my last 2 hikes I carried 35 pounds, but I need to be comfortable with 45 over 10 to 12 miles before the trip - and be able to wake up the next day with minimal pain and discomfort. We will increase the frequency of the training hikes over the coming months.
Other plans are coming together as the calendar requires - we have plane tickets purchased and a ride arranged and confirmed from Fresno Airport to Yosemite Valley on the 12th of August. February 26th is the day that we need to apply for our trail permits - they are assigned by a lottery system exactly 6 months from the day your hike begins. The permit system controls the number of backpackers in any given part of the park at a time, and ensures a true wilderness solitude for all.
Regarding the 250 miles...the JMT is officially measured as 211 miles, from Happy Isles at the head of Yosemite Valley, to the official trail's end on the summit of Mount Whitney. Most people quote the length of the trail as 221, because they count the 10 miles from the top of Whitney to the trailhead at Whitney Portal. We are not exiting the wilderness by that route, we are going down the Pacific Crest Trail for an additional 33 miles, making our trip approximately 211+33=244 trail miles. Throwing in the miles I will log stalking wild trout at day's beginning or end, and we will hoof it well over 250.
I continue to remember and mark anniversaries, and a year ago this weekend my sister Jill was visiting in Houston, acting as my caregiver while Renee got a week off, and got to go home to Raleigh. We went out to Galveston for dinner on her birthday - what a precious memory of a special week. I am thankful every day for this invaluable experience and the opportunity to serve God in ways I never imagined. Please support me in my cause to help cure leukemia and lymphoma, as you are led.
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With Jill, February 1, 2012