Author: seizethedaymike

A native of Duluth, Georgia, I live in Milton, Georgia with my wife, Mary Donley Green. I spent thirty- three wonderful and challenging years in the field of education as a teacher and school principal. Retired four years ago, I supervise field experience students and student teachers for the Bagwell College of Education in a part-time capacity. Two sons, Evan and Will...wonderful parents, Charlotte and Bill...assorted and indispensable pet companions...many hobbies... This and more make for a busy and rewarding life!

Staging Results

This is the CliffsNotes version of the results of “Michael’s Adventures with Multiple Myeloma.”

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that affects the blood plasma and is incurable, but treatable with varying degrees of success.

August 2011 Diagnosed with MM

August 2011 Radiation Therapy

September 2011 Spinal Fusion

November 2011 Pulmonary Embolism

January 2012 Chemotherapy begins

April 2013 Stem Cell Transplant

The results of the seven year staging post-transplant were good. The bone marrow biopsy revealed less than 5% myeloma in the sample. My condition remains Very Good Partial Remission. My treatment is successful and will be modified in some ways. Oral at-home maintenance chemotherapy in low dosage will continue and not be changed. Multiple Myeloma blood chemistry labs will be every three months.

The results indicate success in treatment of the cancer as a chronic disease.

Thank you friends for your comments, prayers and continued encouragement.

Now I return my thoughts and plans to enjoying life, as usual. The family will be celebrating Father’s Day 2020 Sunday and I am looking forward to hearing giggles from granddaughter Charlotte Jayne Green.

Michael Green

June 18, 2020

Seasons Garden Late Spring 2020

Colorful blooms have filled the Seasons Garden. The gallery of images shows some of the vibrant display of perennials and other plants.

Evening Primrose or Eight o’ Clock blossoms unfurl visibly at dusk

Mary Donley Green shot this video in 2015. This predates the recent garden renovation. The eight o’ clocks are very reliable biennials that bloom every other year. The last gallery image shows the latest eight o’ clocks in the garden. Music: The Fray

Seven Year Staging

Being silly after a procedure, or amusing myself after a procedure in the time of a worldwide pandemic


May 18,2020 Bone Marrow Biopsy

I was at Emory University Hospital Winship Clinic Monday for the seven-year staging of my health status since the stem cell transplant. The staging examines the blood chemistry based on a bone marrow biopsy. I have one of these every Spring. As I am in very good partial remission from Multiple Myeloma, it is important to see how well the body continues to respond to the maintenance chemotherapy that I take.

The image is a selfie that captures the recovery period of this out-patient procedure. I was in a private room and not under the influence of heavy drugs. I promise. The nurse had administered lidocaine at the pelvic sample site. Some patients tolerate the extraction of the sample without anesthesia. I am fortunate to be one of those individuals. The image is of me, happy.

Bone marrow samples

I have been fascinated with dissection since a high school biology class where I enjoyed studying a fetal pig. The teacher must have inspired her group of students as I have never lost my curiosity about organisms and anatomy.

The medical staff and my oncology team are patient people, tolerating my questions and photography.

Samples of bone and marrow (shown above) are lab-tested and reviewed. The oncology team discusses the report with Mary and me June 16th.

May 19, 2020. Immunoglobulin infusion (IV-IG) at Emory Winship Johns Creek

I have been receiving six monthly immunoglobulin infusions for several years. The infusions help compromised immune systems, such as mine, weather the infections that are prevalent during the months of November through April. Obviously having the novel coronavirus pandemic affecting the world means that compromised immune systems need all the help they can get.

Michael Green

May 19, 2020

Seasons Garden

In the mid-nineties, Mary and I started a garden next to one side of the wraparound back porch. We knew that the area would be the way to enter the breakfast room and the main route to enter the backyard. Over time this area evolved into a four section garden that was crossed by two walking areas. After even more time it became an extension of the living area around the swimming pool we installed.

I should begin with some information about the place where we have lived since 1992. The house was built on a hill that had been part of the Walker farm. Our neighborhood, The Lakes of Enniskerry, started out as The Estates at Manigault in the early 1990s. The Walker Farm which was on Birmingham Highway and was halfway between Crabapple and Birmingham in North Fulton County was developed into seventy-two acre-plus lots. Our house was one of the first built and was located on the site of the Walker house which had burned at some point before the property was developed.

Our lot was graced with a lovely view of the small, and not so charming-sounding, Chicken Creek valley. Beyond that was a view of the Providence Road ridge line. We have cared for interesting trees that remained from the Walker farm. A gnarled Box Elder bent over an area of our gently curving driveway as it led up to our house. Our sons called it the Ghost Tree, but that is another story to write. Another tree was the huge foot and a half diameter wild cherry tree that had grown with a trunk that circled back upon itself. It housed a snake nest midway up its trunk, only discovered when the tree was dead and was being cut down. Old red cedars still grow on the property, as does a black walnut tree, the survivor of two which produced hard green balls that proved nearly impossible to yield nuts. A large forked poplar was home to the boys’ fort. We added Osage Orange tree seedlings that son Will brought home from a Bulloch Hall Heritage Summer Camp that he attended as a pre-teen. They are mature, enjoying good health and producing green, softball-sized inedible fruit in their transplanted location. Native Americans and pioneers valued them. More on that point later.

A bumper crop that pigs supposedly prefer not to eat. Mosquitoes are also repelled by the fruit.

Will Green gathered these Osage Oranges which are also called hedge apples. He displayed them in his living area in our terrace level.

Back to the garden by the porch…

We made it into a themed garden divided into quadrants and enclosed by a scalloped wood fence. There are two gates, one of which is double and covered by an arbor. Walkways cross a large brick paved center path that divides the space into four planting beds. Each quadrant contains a statue on a pedestal that depicts the seasons of the year. Two of the statues came from Frank and Louise Liddell’s cabin at Lake Lanier. How the set was completed is a story for another blog entry.

Spring

Summer

Fall

Winter

Gardens age and evolve, depending on the care and vision of the people who design, tend,and love them.

We originally conceived the Seasons Garden as a patterned Colonial Williamsburg garden. We used pea gravel paths, roses, an arbor, and perennial beds edged by boxwoods, and brick. The roses were hybrid teas of standard or tree form, and David Austin patented English selections. We began the garden with grand plans for rose cultivation. Those plans had to be adjusted as we learned hard lessons about rose sustainability. The clay soil and humidity in Zone 7a encouraged rose fungus, insects, and plant disease. Tulip bulbs that enticed us from glossy mail-order catalogs disintegrated in the red clay soil. Soil amendment and composting did not help them. Lesson: treat tulips as annuals in Georgia, if planted at all. Heritage flowering bulbs never disappoint and provide a living link to family history. Pea gravel scatters and annoys, though kids love it. As gardeners and visitors age, pea gravel presents hazards. Hard surfaces make the best walkways.

The garden fence and boxwoods enclose about one hundred square feet of space. The Seasons Garden contains a memorial to a pet cat. Chincheloise, or Eloise, was a shaded silver Persian that Mary and I adopted from the Atlanta Humane Society in 1977. She was a mature, long-haired Persian that was the “Pet of the Week” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Eloise was a beauty that needed a caring home. She lived with us for ten years in Lawrenceville, Georgia. We brought her carved granite memorial to our home when we moved in 1992.

Gardens require makeovers sometimes. Our son, Evan Michael Green, took charge of the garden renovation. His brother, William Donley Green assisted with some of the labor, such as removal of ground cover that had become rampant. Evan dug, discarded, and transplanted a huge amount of plant material. My own physical ability to garden has become limited and Mary has taken on most of the maintenance of the garden.

Seasons Garden Renovation began in late winter 2019. Evan is a hard working and creative landscaper. He has renovated and replaced nearly all of our shrubs and gardens. Along the way, his brother Will and Will’s friend Robb have pitched in where needed. We have also relied upon Tad Carter of Rucker Landscape, Scottsdale Farms and Buck Jones Nursery for landscape needs.

The Seasons Garden was replanted with mostly transplants and a few new plants, some purchased and some relocated from my family home in Duluth. I am really happy to have daffodils from the Liddell home place. These heritage double-flowered daffodils are called ‘butter ‘n’ eggs’ and grew in the ornamental gardens of the old Liddell home place. That house was built around 1840 on Beaver Ruin Creek in Gwinnett County. The ‘butter ‘n’ eggs blooms are center top in the image below.

Walker Farm daffodils remain on our property and faithfully bloom every Spring.

Seasons Garden Renovation

Evan clearing overgrown plantings

April 2020

One year after Seasons Garden renovation

Seasons Garden Plant List

Camellia sasanqua

American Boxwood

Toothed Wood Fern

Carolina jessamine

Dwarf red banana

Wild ginger

Golden sedge grass

Sedum, ‘Autumn Joy’

Red monarda, “bee balm”

Creeping pink phlox

Assorted hostas, ‘blue cadet,’ ‘earth angel’

Heuchera ‘creme brûlée’

Strawberry begonia

Shasta daisies

Achillea, “yarrow” pink, yellow

Liatris

Dianthus barbatus, “Sweet William”

Assorted daylilies

Purple monarda, “bee balm”

Assorted bearded irises

Peonies

Cleome, “spider flower”

Evening primrose, “eight o’clock”

Iris domestica, “blackberry lily”

Stokesia, purple and white

Heritage daffodil, “butter ‘n’ eggs” daffodil

Grape hyacinth

A Final Word

As I end this blog entry, I was thinking about what a diversion this writing has been from thinking about COVID-19. I asked Mary, “What day of the pandemic is it?” Without missing a beat she said, “Nine hundred and fifty.” Commentators are stating that March 11, 2020 was the pivotal day when catastrophic world events became very real to Americans. A pandemic was changing our daily lives.

My Brush with a Starlet

In 1984, Mary Donley Green and I were thirty years old and were new parents. We were both school administrators, had a new home in Forest Hills subdivision in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and were enjoying our young married lives.

One of our favorite pastimes was watching VHS tapes of our favorite soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.” I enjoyed working out at the gym after school and coming home to Mary’s delicious meals. Mary was a creative cook and could dish up a tasty taco pizza or Quiche Lorraine. We would sit down to watch our recorded soap at TV trays.

We used to take a home delivery of The Atlanta Journal newspaper and a mail subscription of TV Guide Magazine. It would appear that one of us discovered that the new actress, Kristian Alfonso, who was cast as Hope Williams in DOOL was going to appear at the opening of a fitness center below Atlanta in Morrow, Georgia in a few days. We just had to go see her as she was so beautiful and was Alice Horton’s granddaughter and Doug and Addie Horton Williams’ daughter on the show. Besides, she was getting romantically involved with that close to being a “hood” Bo Brady! He was a biker, heaven forbid!

Although Mary had just given birth to our firstborn, Evan, we decided to drive down in the new Camaro Z28 CFI to see this new actress. An image of Miss Alfonso with MPG is attached to this article.

Kristian Alfonso was about eighteen years old in the picture and had just taken the part of Hope Williams after a professional figure skating career. She was vivacious, outgoing and charming, much as she appears on-screen to this day. She is still quite beautiful and continues to be an important part of the cast on “Days of Our Lives.”

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Mary was very kind to photograph Kristian Alfonso and me.

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Down Home Revisited

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Daniel Meredith Liddell and Nellie Mae Mills Liddell built a new brick ranch house a few feet away from the 1840 Liddell house in 1957. The old plantation plain home was demolished. The barn, smokehouse, car house, and well house survived beyond 1957. The demolition was of course, back before preservation efforts became a part of our lives. I was only four so I don’t remember much about the old plantation house. My uncle Frank Liddell is 94, recalls it vividly, and has drawn out floor plans for me.

Pictured are my grandparents, Daniel M. Liddell and Nellie Mills Liddell in front of their new house in 1958.

Pictured in the b/w image are Michael P. Green and Sandra Nell Seay (Henley) circa Easter 1957 in front of the old plantation plain 1840 Liddell House. Through the years it had acquired a screened porch on the front facade beside where the old Preacher’s Room for visiting circuit rider preachers had been built.

Down Home 1935

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I posted this image with some others in a birthday remembrance of my mother, Charlotte Liddell Green, on Facebook four days ago. I thought that I should provide some details about this wonderful old image from 1935. It is a photograph of six of the eight children of Nellie Mae Mills Liddell and Daniel Meredith Liddell. My Uncle Frank is not pictured and he believes that he must have taken the photograph when he was about thirteen years old. The oldest son, D.L., was absent from the group image.

Pictured, starting on the left, is Louise (later Mrs. Ernest Welch) holding youngest brother, Harold. Standing is Charlotte (later Mrs. William P. Green) with Virginia (later Mrs. N.H. Russell). Showing a calf is Thomas. Kneeling is Ruth (later Mrs. Henry Seay).

The siblings are grouped in the flower and shrub garden at the front of the 1840 homeplace in the Pleasant Hill community. The house was located on the original land lot awarded to William Liddell in the 1818 Land Lottery which opened Gwinnett County to white ownership of the former Creek and Cherokee tribal land.

Family members always referred fondly to going “down home” when they would visit their parents after they moved away as adults.image

The Vacation Bible School Rebellion

My cousin Nancy Liddell Simpson recently posted a 1950s picture of herself, Beverlynopporn Rungruang (Beverly Russell) and me having fun coloring after my birthday party on Facebook. Since that photograph was posted, some of the cousins have been remembering those wonderful days of our idyllic youth spent in Duluth when a multitude of cousins lived nearby.

Here is an old tale that can be dusted off. I was reminded of an incident of part humor-part silliness involving the love of my cousins. As an only child I looked forward to being dropped off for play days with my cousins. These visits were the closest opportunities for me to interact with relatives of my age that loved me.

It was particularly fun to be dropped off at the home of my Aunt Virginia Liddell Russell and my uncle NH Russell. My aunt was just Gin to me and everyone called my uncle simply, Russell. My mother, Charlotte Liddell Green, was the youngest sister of Gin. It was the greatest of days when I would be deposited in the dark of morning at Aunt Gin’s for a visit. This would sometimes happen in the summer when my mother was on her way to Atlanta for work. Gin would have me crawl in bed with one of the cousins and we would sleep late and rise ready for a scrumptious breakfast and a day of play with Beverly and siblings…there were six!

Normally, I stayed with my Granny Green, Mrs. C.T. (Eunice) Green, Sr. and my aunts that lived there, Mary Lou, Jackie, and June. These ladies were sweet, but were formidable and strict with the rules enforcement. Besides, they watched their “stories” on TV and required that I be quiet. Read: regular long pallet naps, lots of meals including beans and corn bread, enforced play time and switchings when needed. Worse, there were no Russell cousins with which to play.

It wasn’t long before I began to hatch a plan for getting to stay with my Russell cousins. I plotted a rebellion from Aunt June Green’s supervision (she was just a teenager) after Duluth First Baptist VBS let out one summer day. Some of the Russell siblings just happened to be attending Vacation Bible School, as was I. I plotted to go home with the Russells. When June, admirably practicing her child management skills (a teacher even then) would have none of my plan, I resorted to dirty pool. I pulled a brat attack, sat down in the middle of the street in front of the downtown church and, crying, would not budge.

Although she may have experienced equal parts exasperation, frustration, and down-right anger, June was quick- thinking. This diplomatic teenager called my mother at work and attained permission for me to go home with the Russell cousins. The approach turned out to be a win-win, but June knew that my mama and daddy would enact a steep price. My immediate future held a hickory switching. The outcome of the Vacation Bible School Rebellion effectively ended the possibility of further baby-sitting behavior problems. June loved telling the story of my rebellion which never failed to fill me with red-faced shame and later, laughter.

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An Expression of Appreciation and Some Other Thoughts

I would like to thank all of those individuals that have communicated their prayers and expressions of concern to me. It is very true that I have been blessed by God, and the power of positive thinking. There is no doubt in my mind that the power of collective prayer and the expressions of concern and hope create an energy that is an impalpable force that can be experienced and is effective. As I continue to live my life, I would like to ask that my friends, family and acquaintances continue to pray and express your hopes for me.

Battling multiple myeloma is a strange struggle. Often, there are few outward signs that a person is afflicted with this terminal disease. In my own situation, I have been fortunate to be able to walk, bend and move fairly well, given that the disease destroyed a vertebra and necessitated eleven levels of fusion in my spine and, consequently caused my heart to stop beating. Certainly, I am alive, feel very well, but am somewhat shorter than I used to be. I incline my head more than I used to do. Even so, I can walk several city blocks without a cane. I will win no foot races, but that is of no matter. I concentrate on maintaining good balance in my movements and am careful when people are moving around me. Motorcycle riding is fondly remembered and relegated to my past, but I can still drive my little red Corvette. The signs of the disease are few and I seem to manage them pretty well. But, as the cancer is carried in the blood, Multiple Myeloma is a stealthy disease and often presents tumors in soft tissue and in bones of the body.

As there is no cure today, remission of the disease is the goal of treatment. An individual may have many years of progression-free remission depending upon the type of myeloma and the success of treatment strategies. I have a type of multiple myeloma that is resistant to chemotherapy and which necessitated a stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplants are done after an individual’s bone marrow is clinically destroyed in order to eradicate as much of the cancer cells as possible. An individual’s previously harvested and stored stem cells are transplanted back into the body where they rapidly repopulate the bone marrow. My procedure was performed April 3, 2013 at Emory University. This was a new birthday for me, as my body was given what amounted to a good scrubbing and I received the gift of a new immune system. As cancer cells still linger in the system post-transplant, patients must undergo a maintenance regimen. That takes me up to the present day.

I am in my third two week cycle of Pomalyst, a newly released chemotherapy in the same family of thalidomide and Revlimid that has lowered the paraprotein level or m-spike in my blood. It also happens to cost $10,000 dollars for the twenty-one capsules in one of the cycles, a little tidbit that Mary served me yesterday at Winship. Mary is careful about what she shares with me from such publications as The Myeloma Beacon. She knows that I am like an individual with a substance abuse problem when it comes to researching and reading about the disease. It may sound paradoxical for a man who loves learning and writes a blog (sporadically), but I must steer clear of reading about the disease and reading about the experiences of those suffering from multiple myeloma. I tend to overdose on the topic and it does no good for my emotional well-being.

The paraprotein level or m-spike is the degree of cancer cells still in my body. Prior to my stem cell transplant, after over a year of conventional radiation therapy and cutting-edge chemotherapy, my paraprotein or m- spike level had smoldered and had not rapidly climbed, but it had resisted eradication. Before the transplant, my m-spike was at 6.0. As of October 1, 2013 it had fallen to 1.0. My oncologist in Alpharetta is a superb doctor and trained at Emory with my Winship oncologist. When a stem cell transplant was necessitated, my treatment was handed over to Emory to the training colleague. The two have worked in conjunction with one another. My oncologist at Emory’s Winship Clinic is heading my treatment at this point. He is at the top of his field and has international renown. He wants the level to be ZERO. As he has explained to me, there are two camps of oncologists in the treatment of Multiple Myeloma which amount to Hawks and Doves. World famous medical institutions align themselves with the philosophies of these two camps. Winship Clinic oncologists are the hawks. And for that, I am glad. I continue in maintenance with close monitoring and on a short leash with regard to whether a second or tandem stem cell transplant will be scheduled in the future. In an e-mail to me last night, my doctor said that he has taken the tandem stem cell transplant off the table at present. I hope that my paraprotein level will continue to move toward ZERO.

Although MM has no cure, remission can last for several years. Excellent medical care and the tremendous support of Mary Donley Green and our sons, Evan and Will Green, has helped my struggle with the disease become such an important life lesson for me. None of us can know the details of our future, whether we will have several years or few, but I know that I will endeavor to live life to the fullest of my abilities. Thank you for your support. Undergirded by my belief in a higher power in the universe, it strengthens me.

Michael P. Green
October 2, 2013

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