Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to chemo

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with our younger son, daughter-in-law and twin grandchildren. Our Thanksgiving dinner was awesome! It was great to have a respite from the treatment room and weekly blood tests in order to spend time with family.

Now it is back to the treatment room for the next round of treatments. Dr. Hema was very encouraged with the results of the blood tests that were previously taken, as well as the test taken before today's chemotherapy. He said that there is no doubt that the chemo is doing what it is intended to do: kill lymphoma! My overall health, energy and weight all support this.

My adorable wife and I will be going to Dr. Hema's office again Tuesday through Friday. Thankfully, these are short treatments, taking about an hour. However, any field trip is an excellent excuse for a big lunch in Big City!

Today's weight: 171.5!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another great report!

Nurse K, who is becoming my new best friend, called a few minutes ago with the results of yesterday's blood test. My red and white blood counts, which had been abnormally low, are both now normal! My hemoglobin is now 12.2, up from 11.7 last week. It is getting very close to the low end of normal for an older male, which is 13 or 14, depending on which resource you read.

All this suggests that the lymphoma, which has been negatively affecting my overall health, is being stopped!

No blood test is required for this Monday, but the following Monday, November 30, it's back to Big City for the next round of treatments.

More good news: today's weight was 170! Yippee!!! I might actually skip desert tonight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A very good report

Nurse K, who is Dr. Hema's nurse, called today to report that the results of my Monday blood test were in and very good. She said the white blood count was slightly below normal but no where near the danger area. The 'danger area' I believe, refers to such a reduced immunity that every passing germ is a very dangerous threat. She also said my hemoglobin is now at 11.7, up from 10.9 just a week ago.

These results suggest that the fludarabine treatment is being tolerated very well. I hope it is having the desired effect; the eradication of lymphoma. Having gone through the agony of rituxan and its side effects, and no real improvement, I can only be cautiously optimistic. Dr. Hema and I passingly mentioned a third therapy, Zevalin:

It is, as Wikipedia says, currently the most expensive drug available given in a single dose, costing over US$ 24,000 for the average dose. I hope you will keep paying your taxes so that Medicare can take care of me!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A common cold

It seems that one of the characteristics of fludarabine, the chemotherapy I am currently taking, is that it increases the risk of opportunistic infections significantly. I believe this means that any old germ floating around will be killed by you, the gentle reader with a robust immune system, but will thrive in me, with a greatly weakened system.

I reported a scratchy throat and a woozy stomach which emerged almost as quickly as the first round of fludarabine was administered. It has progressed to what seems to be a common cold. I have had a cough, the usual sniffles and no fever. I have been monitoring my temperature throughout, since it is an indicator of more serious illness, especially influenza. So far, no readings above normal. I am on schedule to receive the flu vaccine in a week, although the H1N1 vaccine has not appeared in my particular corner of South Carolina quite yet.

I seem to be recovering from the cold normally.

I received a copy of the latest blood tests and about half the readings were abnormal; either too high or too low. My old pal hemoglobin, which ought to be in the 14-17 range, was 10.9, down from 11.2 a month ago. I have not heard from Dr. Hema, so I assume it means that, although my numbers are lousy, they are not unusually lousy for a guy with lymphoma undergoing chemotherapy.

Small consolation, isn't it!?

My spirit remains high. Dr. Hema and I and the entire team have to find and implement the solutions to this problem. We can and we will. It's just a matter of time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Five down, my first blood test and new symptoms

The first round of every day treatments, out of six rounds, is done. The treatments only took about an hour each, however, the treatment facility is on the farthest, from us, edge of Big City. It is therefor a three hour process to get there, get a treatment and get back. Inevitably, there are other errands to run and so it's really half a day!

I had the first of three weekly blood tests but have not yet seen or heard the result.

I have developed three symptoms. First, I got a scratchy throat. At first, I thought my reduced immune system had admitted a cold or flu, but it doesn't seem to be getting much worse or much better. I hope it is not the flu, especially of the H1N1 variety. I have not run a fever.

Second, I have a funny red rash on my forehead and, to a lesser extent, on my cheeks. My adorable wife has spread on lotions which seem to do little to alleviate the rash. They do feel cooling and I certainly enjoy having her loving care!

Last, I have episodes of indigestion that don't seem to respond to any massive amount of antacids. Fortunately, it only seems to happen after I eat...

These symptoms are a good deal less uncomfortable than the symptoms post-rituxan and so I can and will endure them fairly easily.

I regret that my dear sister P and bro-in-law D have spent some of their visit watching me deteriorate. I felt just fine as they were arriving and never felt that I would suffer any symptoms at all. I suppose that one of the lessons of lymphoma is to expect the unexpected.