Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nearly 100%

There seem to be several things I'm at nearly 100% recently.

One is in completing the 100 days! Two more days and we're going home, not any too soon, believe me!

Another, I just found out, is in my bone marrow and blood cells. There are several measurements where they compute the percentage. One is in bone marrow cells, and I'm at 98% donor. Another is red blood cells, and I'm at 90% donor, and for plasma cells in the blood, I'm at 100% donor. Amazing numbers.

I'm also just about 100% well, which is also amazing. The only thing slowing me down at all is my lung function, and even that has been stable, with the supplemental alpha-1 antitrypsin treatment I've been receiving.

But mostly I'm 100% glad to be going home to see family and friends again!

I learned about what type of blood I need if I ever need another transfusion. For the most part, I can now get type A, instead of O. The main thing to know, though, is to be sure they test my blood before any transfusion, to see what type I need. That's standard procedure, and they would never transfuse anyone without having tested their blood within 3 days.

I also learned that I've used up all my antibodies for type A, that's why it's safe to get a type A transfusion. Apparently, since I'm not creating any more antibodies for type A, the ones I had got old and expired. So, no part of my blood is attacking the rest of my blood anymore, it's all donor. I just have to watch for my blood attacking the rest of me, and hope that it attacks the myeloma.

All good news, and I can't wait to see all of you again!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Final days

Last weekend at home was wonderful. On Saturday, I took the bus to the Farmer's Market, met Gene there and had a root beer float with him, then took the bus back home. Then, Marilyn and I walked the 2 miles to the market along the waterfront. It's a lot of fun seeing people you know at the market.

Going home got a little complicated. My oncologist is on vacation the next 2 weeks, and the first appointment I could get was during the second week of July. I think that's with my new neighbor oncologist, who I saw at the market, too, as it happens. What I think is going to happen is that we'll get to move home on Thursday, but I may have to get my blood tests in Seattle, so I may have to drive down a couple times a week. Update! They found an appointment for me for this Friday, so I don't think I'll have to go to Seattle after all!

But let me tell you it was so great to get a card from Gene on Father's Day! It was a hand drawn card that said, "Keep fighting hard!" What more inspiration do you need than that?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Somewhat uncomfortable

I've now had 4 bone marrow aspiration procedures here in addition to the 4 I've had before. Yesterday I was delighted to have the same person that did the first one here. I asked about her the other times, and was told she only worked on Thursday, but there she was on a Friday! That was nice, but what's not so nice were the 2 skin biopsies she took from the same site. It's somewhat uncomfortable, so that's going to slow me down for a couple of days. The bone marrow aspiration doesn't bother me afterwards nearly as much. Let's hope for good test results.

This week was very busy, with an X-ray, medical photographs, and pulmonary function tests. I did well on the DLCO (diffuse lung capacity for carbon monoxide) test, and scored 3 percentage points higher than last time. No improvement was expected, really, even with the supplemental alpha-1 antitrypsin, so it's good news that it didn't go down. I asked them to test my alpha-1 antitrypsin level, and it was nearly normal, so apparently the change in blood genetics did not change this. The near normal level is probably due to the supplementation, instead.

The main challenge now is to try to offset the magnesium depletion that some of the anti-rejection drugs cause, without resorting to IV supplementation. I'm trying some new tablets, because I think I have to be able to regulate this before I leave. The CMV count finally went back down to zero, and since this is a very sensitive DNA test, I was able to immediately stop the anti-viral drugs.

Target date for going home: June 20th

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Attachments and bonding

While waiting for a job to open up in the Seattle area in 1976, I had a fear of getting too attached to my accidental home in Los Angeles. Moving to where the jobs were had been traumatic enough, and I did not want to get "stuck" there. I just wanted out of L.A., so I took a job in Dallas for a year. It's a funny thing when you leave a place you're "not attached" to, all of a sudden all the good things about it and the good people you knew come to mind.

So it's going to be when I leave here. I've observed bonding going on between patients and staff here, but I guess I thought I was immune, because I didn't want to be here. Well, I was hoping to talk the main team nurse into coming home with us, but as Marilyn says, she loves her job too much. And I still maintain that you can't help falling in love with the first nurse to give you a chemo infusion. Imagine, sitting there like a sick puppy, with "please save me" in your wide eyes. Thus I'm finding myself not as immune as I thought.

But it's OK. The best thing to do is to just relax and enjoy all the good feelings you can. It just means you're alive.