Thursday, January 21, 2010

More good news

I received a call from Dr. Hema's office reporting the results of the latest blood test. The most significant result, in my opinion, is that the hemoglobin level is now 13.1! That is a further improvement from the last number I reported to you, which was 12.7. The normal range, depending on who you read is 13 or 14 to 18. So, reading the most optimistic scale, I am now normal.

The red and white blood counts continue to be just a bit outside of normal, but just barely. All these continue to show progress towards as near perfect health as a 66 year old man can get. I am very encouraged and very happy!

The next round of treatments begins February 1. The treatments go pretty quickly and the nurses and doctors are very nice. It is a great opportunity to have a lunch date with my adorable wife. It is, however, saddening, because every person there is in a fight for their life and at least some of them may lose the fight.

Please continue your thoughts, prayers and crossed fingers. I appreciate all the help I can get and I am sure I will not overdose on the positive vibe!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My privacy policy

Several months ago, I went to a new doctor's office for a consultation. As a part of the new patient process, I was asked to sign an acknowledgement that I had received a copy of their written privacy policy. I'm sure you have seen them; they promise not to share your private medical details with anyone except your other doctors, Medicare, your insurance carrier, the county coroner and your designated spiritual guide. All very good!

I complained that I had not actually received a copy of the policy and that I would decline to sign a document acknowledging receipt of a document that I had not actually received. The office manager intervened and said they had a copy in a binder in plastic sleeves and asked if I would care to read it. I told her that if I was going to sign an acknowledgement, then I was darned well going to have to actually receive a copy! She acted as if I were a loon and, with many pained sighs and evil looks, made a photocopy for me to take home. I am quite sure she marked my file for all to see: "loon."

Am I a loon?

You may have noticed that I use initials and made up names throughout this blog. I do not know how Dr. Hema or Nurse P. or you, gentle reader, feel about internet notoriety. If I never use a real name and never identify anyone by name, or give any personally identifiable details, I don't think I have to worry.

Some of you have avatars that, if one has microscopic-quality vision, can identify you personally. If that is acceptable to you, then that's your decision. For me, however, I choose to keep as many details as possible private.

That is my privacy policy. No acknowledgement is required.

Monday, I have a blood test, including M-spike readings. I am very hopeful that my numbers have further improved. Please cross a finger for me!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fifth day is completed!

The current fludarabine regimen is every day for five days, a four week break, five more daily treatments, etc., until six week-long treatments have been given. Today, I finished #3 of six. We are a long way from done, but we are gaining on it!

The treatments are relatively easy, taking about an hour. The IV port is left in my arm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, so I am only pierced twice. We usually have lunch while we wait.

I am feeling very good about my progress, my blood test results, my overall health and energy. My good friend N suggested I would probably have a moment when I said to myself, "Hey! Wait a minute! I think I can conquer this darned thing!" He was right. I have had the moment!

I have a blood test scheduled for January 18 and the next round of treatments starts February 1. I am optimistic in the extreme!

The people in Dr. Hema's office and, especially in the infusion room, are very nice. Every person that I have come in contact with is extremely kind and compassionate. I assume it's because of the example Dr. Hema sets, but every person is as sweet and caring as anyone could possibly be. Thank you, Doc!

Today's weight: I was afraid to look!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back in the recliner again!

Today I started round three of six rounds of chemo. As usual, the process starts with fairly extensive blood tests to determine my progress, or lack, before the infusion begins. Dr. Hema then discusses the results with me and pokes and prods a bit before I am sent back to begin infusion. Dr. Hema came in the examining room with my file and a huge grin on his face! He said my hemoglobin is now 13.3. The normal range, according to his in-house lab, is in the range from 14 to 18. This is an improvement from just two weeks ago, when it was 12.7. All this suggests that the lymphoma is declining and normal health is gaining! We are all very encouraged.

He expressed regret that we went through the difficult and lengthy rituxan process for no improvement. I told him that, in my family (think of dear Uncle R), we believe that if we knew then what we know now, we'd have bought Google at $80. In other words, one almost never knows the right decision six months in advance. We must take our best shot and move forward. We do know that no-one ever gets healthy, or wealthy, by waiting and waiting until all the facts are in. Procrastination never stops cancer.

I feel great!

Today's weight: 177.5. I have resolved to strictly moderate my gluttony right after I finish my fried chicken dinner Wednesday night! That is about twenty pounds (!) gained since we went to Cape Cod in August. If I gain twenty pounds every six months, I expect that Discovery Channel will come knocking, asking if I will star in a new reality program, "Half-ton Grampa."