Posted by: newperspectives85 | December 29, 2011

An extraordinary life–something to think about whenever you think your life is bad

**Life can be hectic…but when you think it is awful…think about this guy…it is easy to focus on the bad…look at the positives while going through life.

Professor on the mend from disease

By Talia Elliott
Staff Writer
tse4g@uvawise.edu

Eric Smith worried he wouldn’t live to see his young niece giggle one more time.

In isolation in a Nashville hospital, the political science professor battled aplastic anemia, a sometimes-deadly disease that rids the body of its ability to properly produce blood cells.

“I wanted to see her grow up,” Smith said of his niece this week.

Forced to leave school in December 2010 to fight the disease, Smith, 35, is back this semester in better health. He’s since spent time with the toddler.

The assistant professor of political science still has a long road to travel toward recovery, but he’s seeing significant changes in the way he feels, notably, his ability to return to the students and colleagues he cares so much about.

Smith spent much of the spring semester seeking treatment for the disorder. In March he had a stem cell transplant, a procedure that wiped out and reset his body’s immune system in the hopes of vanquishing the disease.

Often isolated in hotel and hospital rooms, Smith wasn’t allowed much contact with other people who might harbor infections that could have proven deadly for him.

Six months later, Smith said he’s doing better but isn’t yet out of the woods. Before he can be declared in remission, or even cured, he must wait two years to make sure the stem cell transplant was a success.

His latest blood tests have returned normal, he said. He continues to see a hematologist about once a month to get blood work checked. By many measures, his health is slowly becoming something close to what it once was.

Smith battled through harsh side-effects during his treatment, including mucositis, a painful infection of the intestinal lining.

“I went a week without eating,” Smith said.

Part of his treatment required the use of machines that infuse medications into the body and pump blood out.

“When you got tubes hanging out of your body, it’s not fun,” he said.

That doesn’t concern him now, he said. Coming back to work on campus has provided Smith the extra boost he needs to heal himself simply by being around the people that he loves.

His colleagues at the college have been “incredible,” Smith said. While he was gone, his fellow department professors and friends helped to keep his work done so he’d have less stress, he said.

Smith said that being back in his familiar work setting has helped him achieve a state of mind he didn’t have while locked away in an isolated room.

“I feel … useful,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m a burden to anyone.”

The professor said he is maintaining a normal teaching schedule, though he tires easily and sometimes has to force himself to stop working.

Before he was ill, Smith said, he didn’t take anything for granted. After battling the aplastic anemia, though, he said that the simple things in life have gained a greater value.

“You gotta do life,” he said. “You gotta pay bills, and get up early, and ignore the sunset.”

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Posted 08 Sep 2011 by newsadmin in News

http://home.uvawise.edu/highlandcavalier/?p=4021

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