Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chain reaction

First you have chemo to condition your body to accept the donor's stem cells, and drugs to suppress the immune system so as not to reject the transplant, and thus the CMV reactivates itself (see my prior post Learning more), as viruses are apt to do in these situations. This happened to me before with the chicken pox virus. Then you take another drug to counter the CMV, which lowers the white blood cell count to almost nothing. Naturally, then you give yourself injections of another drug to boost the white blood cell count. It's quite a chain reaction. There's a lot of opportunity for medical research to find drugs with fewer side effects.

I've discovered another effect of the transplant. I have been curious about the change of the genetics of my blood. Many years ago I read an article about genetics controlling whether one's urine has a distinctive odor after eating asparagus. Well, apparently it is the blood's genetics that control this, because after the transplant, I no longer have that odor. That's because I apparently no longer produce an enzyme that can break down a chemical found in asparagus. Now, I wonder how many other things will be different?

Last weekend was the best I've had for a long time. We got to go home on Friday, I got to spend a lot of time with Gene, and I got to watch my buddy Chuck race his Camero and win! I wasn't even upset to come back to Seattle early, because it's almost over! This week the doctor said they would start on a discharge plan for me! It's going to be a fine Summer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hard to believe

Sometimes it's good news that is hard to believe. This week the doctor said that most myeloma patients do well after this transplant procedure, mentioning someone that is 8 years out. I don't know how to hold onto that hope without crushing it. Just one day at a time, I guess.

But the tests are good. I got clarification on the 0.02 number from the bone marrow test, and that is the percentage of abnormal cells in the bone marrow. Considering I started out at diagnosis at 80%, that's very good. I have another bone marrow test in 2 weeks, so we'll see.

I sure hope I get to see the school play that Gene is going to be in. He does so well at animating the characters, really playing the part, not just speaking the lines. The other thing he's good at is doing his school work, when he decides to do it. Just deciding to do it is the hardest part. Keep up the good work, Gene!

I hope your holiday weekend is lining up as well as mine! An anniversary, a few nights at home, and meeting friends at the race track. Life is good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New test results

Last week was day 56, time for another bone marrow aspiration. There was nothing alarming in the results, still a tiny bit of cancer, but it looks to me like the report says that there is less than 4 weeks ago. All good news, so far. My weight is pretty stable now, and we're working on taking me off the IV fluids, which will be very nice.

Saturday we took a long walk to Fremont, to Costas Opa Greek Restaurant, which was real good. My feet were a little tired by the time we got back, but the butterscotch milkshake helped a lot!

Sunday was a wonderful Mother's Day at the Skate Barn in Renton, I mean, it was really great to see Gene for the day. Marilyn went to Ikea while I waited at the Skate Barn. Gene asked when Marilyn was going to get back, and I said, "When she runs out of money." I guess we all got a little bit of what we wanted, that day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Learning more

Sometimes in this life I've had to learn more than I wanted to. Like multiple myeloma, for instance. I just learned that my cousin has had to learn about another rare disease, called PMP. There's not much more to do than to learn what you can, and carry on.

This week I'm learning about CMV, or cytomegalovirus. It's a very common virus, between 50 and 80% of adults have been infected by it. Most infections are "silent", but it can be serious for a transplant patient. Because of the anti-rejection drugs I'm taking, this virus has decided to take off in me, which the doctors have been watching for, so now I'm on an anti-viral medication to keep it under control.

The best news this week is that I was given clearance to go home for weekends! It might depend, though, on whether I need to be monitored for this virus over the weekend, but still good news.

Highlight this week was a long walk to Pike Place Market for dinner, and then to Safeco Field to watch Oregon State vs. U of W. It was our first time to Safeco Field, and it's very nice, but we should have dressed warmer.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Half-way celebration

This week I'm celebrating reaching the half-way point! Fifty days out of 100. I can't wait. I might even sneak home on a day-trip this weekend.

The bean counters are at it again, wouldn't you know. There was an article about this in the paper, which reported that my employer let about 1300 people go on Tuesday. If you know why the computer in "2001" was called HAL, then you know what company that is. The rumor is that our whole division is up for sale. But so far, I'm still employed. I've been through far too many of these things already, to tell the truth.

I'm trying to come up with a "bright side", but when 4 people in your immediate group are let go, and another bails out for another job on his own, you know that staying isn't going to be much fun, either. But, we'll make the best of it.

I still have virtually no symptoms of graft vs. host disease. The small rash I have the doctors don't consider GVHD, which makes me glad I don't have a rash they do consider GVHD. The only thing left is to stay healthy, and wait to see if I get the graft vs. myeloma effect, which would be a good thing.