Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three...count 'em, three great reports!

It is the season, purely coincidental, I'm sure, for all my doctors visits to converge. I suppose it's better to get the poking and prodding out of the way quickly.

About a month ago, I was asked to visit my cardiologist for an annual follow-up visit including an echo-cardiogram. It is a sonogram of the heart. For those of you who have not had this procedure, it is the procedure where a sensor is rubbed around the area of interest with a quart or so, it seems, of sterile lubricant. The screen makes all sorts of interesting images and the machine bleeps and honks meaning, I surmise, that I do have an operational heart. After the procedure, Dr. Cardio saw me and after reviewing my test result, pronounced me fine and suggested I see him again in a year.

A few days later, I saw my primary care physician to follow up my slightly elevated triglycerides now being treated with medication. After reviewing my blood tests, he told me my triglycerides and cholesterol were within normal limits. Evidently, the medication is doing its job as expected.

There seems to be a trend here and I like it! I appear to be in fine health and expect the visit to Dr. Hema will continue the trend.

Today I visited with Dr. Hema, filled with optimism. Part of my optimism was generated because I choose to manage my health care a bit more aggressively that most. I knew the answer before I walked in the door! I knew the answer because I insist that my blood tests be administered prior to my visit and that I obtain a copy. I then compare my results from previous visits and I know if my progress is trending towards better, same or worse.

My M-spike number was 0.24, about the same as the last several visits. My particular lymphoma, known by the tongue-tying name lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma, never really goes away, so a decline in my M-spike number is very unlikely. Therefore, the best result is just what I got, no significant change. Dr. Hema scheduled another visit in six months.

That sure was a long-winded way to get to WOO HOO!

I feel very healthy and I'm able to do just about anything I want to do. My beloved wife and I intend to enjoy life to the fullest.

Thank you all, gentle readers, for your prayers and support. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another great report!

Today was a regularly scheduled six-month follow-up visit with Dr. Hema. That, in itself, is significant. At one point in my progress, I was seeing him every day! Once the rituxan and chemo were administered, I saw him every three months. Now I am scheduled for every six months.

The numbers and consequently Dr. Hema's comments were just wonderful. The only number that was not an improvement was M-spike which has risen to 0.27. If I am understanding Dr. Hema correctly, an increase from the last number of 0.19 is insignificant. Both numbers are quite small; however, they are not zero which would signal complete remission. We don't expect complete remission with lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma. We expect long periods of nearly complete remission followed by brief periods of re-treatment. According to Dr. Hema, there is no way to know if re-treatment will be needed in six months, six years or some other period. He has previously said to me that most patients eventually die of some other cause, not lymphoma.

My numbers were so unremarkable that we mostly discussed restaurants, travel and Nurse Kim's new baby girl! We scheduled my next visit in six more months.

My adorable wife and I celebrated with a big lunch and I enjoyed a big glass of Pinot Noir.

When I was first diagnosed and undergoing treatment, my attitude was that I have a possibly life-threatening lymphoma and I should bite my lip, write an intelligent estate plan and take what comes like a man. Now that I have been treated and it has gone so well, my attitude is that, like the flu, I used to have lymphoma and it has been treated and I am fine. If it comes back, I will get another treatment and I will be fine.

I expect to be around for a normal life expectancy for a non-smoking male who eats big lunches and drinks a bit of Pinot Noir!