Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A call from Nurse Kim

I had a follow-up CT scan on Saturday to look at my lungs. I had a scan three months ago and a spot was found on one lung that was attributed to bronchitis. At the last scan, I was suffering from a cold or flu and coughing. The scan on Saturday was intended to make sure that the spot went away with the bronchitis. Dr. Hema ordered a scan of my body from neck to groin. He said that as long as I was filled with contrast dye and lying on the table, why not look at everything, not just my lungs.

Nurse Kim and I just spoke and she said the scan shows no sign of any spot on either lung and no sign of lymphoma. Now, having said that, I don't believe that means that there is absolutely, positively no lymphoma in my body. I believe it means that the resolution of a CT scan is too coarse to show the very tiny amounts of lymphoma I have in my body. I believe I still have some small amount because I have the indicators in my blood test numbers. As small as they may be, they are still not zero.

This is great news and I am still very happy with my progress. I shall continue to follow Dr. Hema's prescription to go forth and enjoy my life to the fullest.

Today's weight: a svelte 179.5. Notice that I don't post it if it's embarrassing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A visit to Dr. Hema

Today we traveled to Big City for a regularly scheduled visit to Dr. Hema. As I suspected, he said I am doing very well. He confirmed my estimation of the meaning of my recent blood tests. He said I looked excellent when he considered where I had come from 2 1/2 years ago. At that time, I felt and looked terrible and was fighting Rituxan. Now, I feel great and am fighting...well, nothing aside from an appetite for fattening foods!

At my last CT scan, part of the result was colored by the effects of then ongoing bronchitis. Dr. Hema is to schedule another test soon to be sure those effects are gone and not something more serious. I will have my next follow-up visit with Dr. Hema in six months.

All-in-all, this was a great visit. Everyone with a very serious illness hopes he or she can go to the doctor and hear he is in great shape and no follow-up visits are needed for six months. My adorable wife and I never miss an opportunity to celebrate. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and I raised a glass of wine to toast good health and long life!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The numbers are in.

In preparation for my regular visit with Dr. Hema, I visited the office of my local primary care physician for blood tests. They administer the tests in advance so that when I later visit Dr. Hema, he has the results before him to discuss in detail with me. The lab at my primary care physician's office mails me a copy of the results so that I can see them and follow my progress up or down over the months and years. I feel most comfortable being involved in the progress and treatment of my illness.

The numbers are very good. The primary indicators of my lymphoma are IgM and M-spike. The IgM number is now 201, right in the normal range which is from 60 to 263. The M-spike is now 0.19, essentially the same as three months ago. This level is very, very low, but not quite zero, the ideal for a healthy cancer-free adult.

I am very optimistic about my upcoming visit with Dr. Hema. I believe he will say that I am doing extremely well. If so, I shall request that my next visit be scheduled for six months. Yes, as you can see, gentle-reader, I love being in control!

I generally don't even think of myself as a lymphoma patient. I think of myself as facing a challenge and conquering it. It may be temporary, but for now, I think I have conquered it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old friends

I watched a piece on that damned box, as I think my grandmother called television, about Dave Brubeck. I spoke of Brubeck previously: http://bill-in-sc.blogspot.com/2009/07/sad-news.html

How I would love to be spending an evening with L and a glass of good bourbon pulling out all our jazz records and giving them a spin on the turntable and having more than a few laughs. As happens in life, sadly it's too late.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the volunteers putting together the 50th (!!) year reunion of my high school graduating class. I was sadly reminded that the two guys I hung out with the most all those long years ago are both deceased.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I received a phone call today from H who started as a long-time business associate and became a very good friend. Since I retired, I hadn't heard from him in six or seven years. He called and we caught up on developments in the intervening years. He revels in working hard every day for far more than the usual forty hours. As you may well know, I revel in having those days done and over with. Nevertheless, we were soon chatting and laughing as if we'd just been together a week ago! H then announced, "We're having a party and we'd love to see you and your adorable wife."

So what if the party is 600 miles away? We are going!

The point of all this, gentle readers is that life is fleeting; life is temporary and life is uncertain. If you are going to visit an old friend or see an old friend or call an old friend or send an old friend a card or an email, do it now. Tomorrow may be too late.

Call an old friend today!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A visit to Dr. Cardio

We traveled to Big City yesterday for my annual follow up visit with my cardiologist. To refresh your memory, dear readers, I have been a cardiac arrhythmia patient for many years. My heartbeat has been irregular and fast for most of my adult life. It has, at times, been controlled by medication pretty well and sometimes pretty poorly. I remarked to my adorable wife at dinner a few nights ago that the current medication has done a great job for several years. I have been essentially symptom-free.

I was taken to an examining room and, in addition to the usual tests, given an EKG. Dr. Cardio appeared and remarked at once, "Gee, you look great." We discussed my general health and I told him that the medication was doing its job quite well and that I had no discomfort or other cardiac symptoms. After he studied my EKG, I asked him how it was; he replied that it was perfect. He stood up, shook my hand and said, "See you in a year."

Needless to say, we are very pleased with the result. As usual, we celebrated with a very nice lunch in Big City, put the top down on the convertible and cruised home the long way.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Follow up with Dr. Hema

Last week I had a follow up CT scan and blood tests. Yesterday, May 4, I met with Dr. Hema. The results are very, very good. In January, my M-spike number was 0.21. Now it is 0.18! It continues to trend down towards zero, the reading for a person with no lymphoma cells at all in their system. For comparison, the M-spike was 0.30 one year ago.

My IgM number is now 180, which is in the normal range! One year ago, it was 359, having fallen from its high of over 5,000.

Dr. Hema also read part of the CT scan interpretation. The two areas of enlarged lymph glands have decreased in size. The report quoted the size in centimeters; the best I could determine, it sounds like they have decreased by about 1/3.

All of this points to continuing steady improvement. I asked Dr. Hema if anyone was ever cured completely from my particular lymphoma: lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. He said that lots of cases go many years without a recurrence; five or ten years and more. Obviously, if a person is 68 years old and goes more than ten years without a recurrence, he might as well consider himself cured.

My adorable wife and I are very happy. We celebrated by putting the top down on the convertible and enjoying a very nice, leisurely lunch.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Follow-up with Dr. Hema

I had my regular quarterly visit with Dr. Hema today. He, my adorable wife and I were all smiles! He was very happy with my M-spike number of 0.21 as well as my IgM number of 250. My IgM is now in the normal range which is 62 - 263. It has been a high as a sobering 5,000! I asked if it was unusual for the M-spike to continue to decline after treatment stops. He said he sees it in some cases. He also said that the difference between my earlier M-spike readings of 0.31 and today's of 0.21 was barely statistically significant. He said the more significant thing is that the numbers are not increasing, nor, even worse, increasing in big steps.

We scheduled the next follow-up visit for four months, instead of three as previously and we all spoke of family, vacations, cruises and other ways to savor life!

I feel very well indeed and hope to do my utmost to do just that: savor life!