Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Outlast the doctors!

It is once again that time of year. Time to check in with Dr. Hema and discuss with him the progress of my apparent remission from lymphoma. As you recall, the remission's state and progress are measured by blood tests. A week or so before my scheduled visit, I first visit a nice lady with a sharp needle to extract a few vials for testing. By so doing, the results are available for discussion at the time of the visit with Dr. Hema.

The results are very close to the same as the last several visits. For example, the M-spike number is now 0.2; almost exactly where is has been for several years. The IgM number is just slightly high at 398.

Dr. Hema said that an M-spike anywhere over 0.0 indicates that the lymphoma is still present. However, its stability, hovering around 0.2 for several years, indicates that it is quiet and that no immediate treatment is needed. He has consistently told me that it may remain quiet for a year or a decade or forever. He says there is no need to treat until the numbers ramp up, if ever.

When it appeared to be time to schedule my next follow-up visit, Dr. Hema announced that he is retiring at the end of the year. It is a sad and a happy announcement. Sad, because Dr. Hema and his wonderful staff skillfully and with smiling, patient faces brought me from, " Bill, you have a rare and dangerous lymphoma," all the way to, "Bill, your numbers are great. No treatments needed. See you later!" I will admire and respect him for my entire life, but I will miss him as he enjoys a well-deserved retirement. I am very happy for him because I am, as you may know, a fan of retirement!

I am being reassigned to a colleague who is in an office many miles closer to our home. While I will appreciate that, I will miss Dr. Hema, Nurse K, Patty the Piercer and all of the wonderful people I have come to appreciate so much over the years.

After hugs for all, my adorable wife and I celebrated with a very nice lunch and a toast to continued good health.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The good, bad and ugly

Well, it has been an eventful couple of weeks here in the Carolinas. As I have reported on this blog previously, I have suffered from cardiac arrhythmia for most of my adult life. Most of the time, it has been well controlled by medication; you probably never even know I had it. Once in a while, for no reason at all, the medications stop working as effectively as before and are changed. Most of the time, that's all it takes and I resume my normal operations; you know, relaxing and enjoying life to the fullest.

A couple of weeks ago, my heart went to atrial fibrillation. It's a fairly dangerous condition that sometimes leads to stroke or death. I doubled my medication, a process previously discussed with the doctors, but it didn't subside. Yes; I have two cardiologists!

After consulting the doctors, I had a cardioversion. Cardioversion is a medical procedure by which an abnormally fast heart rate (tachycardia) or cardiac arrhythmia is converted to a normal rhythm using electricity, in my case.

It's not as scary as it looks, however.

I am happy to report that my pulse has returned to a normal rate and that I am fine. 

Next I visited Dr. Hema. The results of my tests were about the same as previously. My M-spike number was 0.2. That's about as close to zero, meaning cured, as I seem to be able to get without actually being cured. I feel perfectly fine and the doctor and I have no reason to believe that my lymphoma will ever be an issue again.

Although we pretty much knew the answer before we walked in, it is always great to hear it from the doctors mouth. As is our custom, we celebrated with a nice lunch and a few high-fives!

In spite of these issues, I feel pretty lucky. At my age, several of my contemporaries from my high school days have not survived. I feel like I am doing quite well.

Thank you again, gentle reader, for your well-wishes.