Living with Leukemia

Back in November, right around Thanksgiving, I started to feel very run down and developed flu-like fevers and lower back pain. I thought it was a simple virus that would work its way out of my system, but it never did. Finally, on December 11th, 2011, I went to the walk-in clinic for severe pain and a fever.

Up until now, every walk-in visit has been either a preventative measure (physical exam) or sent home with antibiotics to fight a mild infection. I guess it makes sense to have this option, but the doctor told me that I would have to go to the hospital overnight instead of home with a prescription. My white blood cell count (WBC) was over 4x normal, and there were a couple options. I could (a) have a severe infection and need IV antibiotics, (b) having complications due to the pilonidal cyst that had developed and hurt, or (c) leukemia. I initially discouraged the cancer diagnosis, thinking it was a worst case scenario that was possible but not probable.

The next day at the hospital, after spending an unpleasant evening of doctors poking the one painful spot on my body trying to determine how to proceed, I was told that I did in fact have leukemia, a rather aggressive form, and that I would be undergoing chemotherapy as soon as possible. They also had to address the cyst before they could begin chemo.

There is no doubt that this is a life-changing event. Up until now, my medical history could fit in a small binder. Now every time I go to the hospital for chemotherapy, they have to use a 3″ binder to hold all the charts and forms for my treatment. I also now live with a Hickman catheter, which has some advantages and disadvantages. Prior to December 11th, I didn’t know what a Hickman was, what NPO meant, or the difference between general anesthetic and sedation. I didn’t know that they made a man-purse-sized Wound VAC for portable use. Heck, I didn’t even know what a wound VAC was.

My family and I have gone through some very tough days in the past nearly three months. But even with all the procedures and paperwork and puking, the good days still outnumber the bad. I thank my family and friends for sticking by me and being the best damn cheering section around. There is absolutely no way I would be here writing this out if it weren’t for all the cards and well wishes on CaringBridge and visits and prayers and support.

This week, the plan is to be re-admitted for my third round of chemotherapy. The past two weeks I have been able to get some sense of normalcy back into my life. I spent a good amount of time at my own apartment (last time between hospital stays I was at my parents with only a couple visits to my own apartment). I was able to get some projects worked on and clean up my space so the dusting will be easier the next time I get out. It was quite thick from two months of neglect.

I hope to update and post again after the final round of chemo, when hopefully I will be done with hospital stays for a while and just have scheduled clinic visits. It is hard some days to sit down and type out how I feel. This morning I happen to be on NPO (non per os, no food/drink by mouth) so I can’t have breakfast (not that I usually do) or even a drink of water until I get to the clinic and they decide what procedures they will be doing.

Now, some information that has been posted other places, but I thought I’d really quick aggregate it.

1.) CaringBridge – this site is updated daily-ish by my parents on my status. It is the most up-to-date news on my treatment.

2.) – Site set up by my co-workers to coordinate benefit efforts. This includes a benefit event that is being developed. More information regarding that, including an online donation system, will be posted on

3.) This site – I haven’t been very good about updating this site while I’m in the hospital. I always have the best of intentions, but never get around to it. I will try and post something here, so follow if you like. There is also a Donate button in the right column if you so choose.

4.) Benefit fund – There is a benefit fund established at State Bank & Trust in Fargo. This fund is for helping with medical bills and other care costs. You can make checks payable to “Andrew Lynch Benefit Fund”, 3100 13th Avenue S, Fargo, ND 58103.

I went and got an iPad

Since I have been doing a lot of traveling, I have seen a lot of people that use iPads for watching movies or playing games or keeping generally occupied while in flight. I have enjoyed having an iPod touch for such trips, but it was time to make an upgrade.

I decided on a 32gb iPad 2 with wifi only. I toyed with idea of getting a 3G version for ultimate portability, but it started adding up. I have been typing out is post on on the soft keyboard and have only made a few mistakes. The key is to take things slow when typing and pay attention to little mistakes.

Now, I have to update the firmware to 5.0 to get the iCloud features.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Press Release

If you read this blog, you undoubtedly have already seen this. I thought I’d post it here so that Google will follow along in search results.

To be honest, this is uber-flattering to me, and makes me blush every time I read it or have someone talk about it.

College Student’s Tech Savvy Allows Fargo Salvation Army to Expand Flood Service Area

FARGO, N.D. – April 14, 2011 The Fargo Salvation Army recently expanded its flood relief service to 4,600 square miles, a feat made possible by North Dakota State University senior Andrew Lynch. The 21-year-old majoring in electrical engineering walked through The Salvation Army’s doors during the 2010 floods, asked to volunteer and has been an invaluable asset ever since.

Through Lynch, the Fargo Salvation Army has been able to:

• Deploy its mobile kitchens to communities much farther away than was previously possible, thanks to Lynch creating a large-screen electronic mapping system. In real time, dispatchers can monitor river levels, locate mobile kitchens and tell the drivers precisely where they need to go to serve the most people in need.

• Save hundreds of dollars in dispatch expenses. Lynch created a text messaging system for on-call disaster teams that eliminates the need for The Salvation Army to buy pagers that cost well over $100 each.

“Lynch has been a huge asset to us,” said Steve Carbno, disaster services manager for the Fargo Salvation Army. “And that’s just the tech side of it. He has such a compassion for helping in any disaster we respond to. When there’s a fire, you can tell he’s genuinely hurting with the family. We don’t see guys like him come around often. It’s phenomenal to watch. For all he gives us, it’s remarkable that he still has time to be a full-time college student.”

The Fargo Salvation Army has begun to scale back its flood response, but continues to serve where it is needed. Individuals or communities in need of cleanup kits may call 701-232-5565.

To donate to the Fargo Salvation Army, call 800-SAL-ARMY or mail a check to 304 Roberts St., Fargo, ND 58102. Be sure to designate your donation “Fargo floods.” To volunteer, call the Fargo Salvation Army at 701-232-5565. Click below to make an online donation.

Arizona, Part 1

2010-12-25 13.35.54.jpgIf you didn’t already know, I’m in Arizona for a week or so. While I’m here, I’ve been trying to take as many pictures as possible with both my Android phone and my digital camera. I’ve been uploading them in the mornings to a Picasa gallery. The gallery is located here.

Christmas time


Its that time of year again. Presents, decorated trees, and the like. This year, I’ll be going down to Arizona for the holidays. I’ve loaded up my phone with a couple of good travel apps. I hope to take plenty of pictures and send them back via Picasa and Facebook.

Hopefully travelling on Christmas day won’t be as terrible as I fear. It should be light,  with people already being at their destination.

Android goodness

I finally made the investment and got an Android-powered smartphone.  It is the Samsung Intercept on Virgin Mobile. It works alright, though not flawlessly. I do think the price is right though.

I purchased a case and screen protector for it as well.  I plan to switch to this phone fully in December when my Alltel contract can be broken.

A Lack of Twitter

You might have noticed. You might have not cared. You might have been relieved. However you felt, my website has stopped publishing a digest of my weekly “tweets”. Little known fact: I’m still using Twitter.

For some odd reason, the plugin I use with Twitter has stopped working. I’ve tried reinstalling it, reconfiguring it with my Twitter creds, and it still won’t fly. So, I just uninstalled it and left it be. If you’re really interested in what I’m up to, go and follow me on Twitter (lurch89) or just come back here to check on what I’m doing (you STALKER!).

Straightening Up

P1010787.JPGBeing that this is my first weekend in a long time to get some stuff done around the house, I decided to finally move my server/home networking equipment to a new arrangement. About a month ago, I went down to the IKEA store in Minneapolis and picked up 3 of these LACK end tables. They were on sale for $8 each. They’re nothing really that special looking, and are constructed of particle board. The kicker? They are actually the exact width to mount 19″ network hardware in. I thought this would be great! Problem though: I don’t own any 19″ hardware. Dang. Well, I bought them anyway, and simply mounted all of my non-19″ rackmount equipment onto it. And by mount, I mean set..

Here is a list of the hardware that I have here. And yes, they are all named after scientists.

  • Volta – This is the WRT54Gv2 running DD-WRT (of course). It is acting as my router for the network. I was using a smaller HP with pfSense, but that starting having major issues, so I dumped it for the ol’ hardware router. It is also my wifi access point.
  • Coulomb – This is the large HP Compaq desktop that is acting as a server. It is running Debian 5.0 (Lenny) and serves file sharing, print sharing, VPN, and Teamspeak. Specs are a P4 @ 2.8GHz, 1GB DDR SDRAM, 2x 120GB IDE Hard Drives (7200RPM), Gigabit LAN.
  • Marconi – This is the tall device in the back. It is a Cisco Network Media Hub (NMH410) with 1TB of network attached storage. I use this for all of my media storage at home. I plan on purchasing another 1TB drive to create redundancy.
  • Trendnet TEG-S5g – It’s not in the picture, because it’s hiding underneath (as it’s supposed to). It’s a simple 5-port Gigabit switch that I got on sale at Newegg. Though I just noticed…I never got the gift card they said they mailed to me in May for the rebate. Crap.

I hope to eventually recable my desk and associated work area so that it looks like this. No wires showing, mounted power strips, and the like. I also want to create a spare set of cables, so that if I wanted to go to a LAN party, all I would need to do is disconnect the big components (monitor, PC, mouse, keyboard) and take them with, and I would have a fresh set of cables waiting for deployment.