Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That's What She Said..

"That's What She Said!"

"Hearsay, Your Honor." is said in court to attempt to block second hand information. 

What I want to tell you about IS 'what she said.' So, I'm not making this up. I heard it myself. It was said to me. There are even witnesses. 

Here is what Mildred L. said. "Mark, you look so much better than the last time we saw you."  I was surprised. Very.

She called her husband, Dr. L over to join us. "Don't you think Mark looks so muh better than when he came to our garden party?"  she asked him.
"Yes. I see he is looking so much more, what is the right word.. Fit. Right?"
"Yes, you are right."
"Mark, you are really doing much better aren't you?" Dr L asked.
"Mark. Tell us. How are you feeling?" Mrs L really wanted to know.

These two are remarkable people. I admire them both so very much.

What a really fun and pleasant thing for me to hear. Wow! This is a man who is an elite physician; an anesthesiologist with over 35 years of being the one most responsible for protecting patients' thread of life while sedated. He sees things others do not when he looks at people. He recognized a change in me. He sees that the cancer has actually stopped draining my life away.

I am so much stronger than anytime in the past 2 1/2 years. It would make me happier if I could be off the Revlimid like when we were in the Philippines. That was the ultimate experience for me. The myeloma was already in remission. I had been off Revlimid for three weeks before and not at all while we were there. No chemo and full health at the same time = Life Lived Large, for me!

My greatest ally, my pain management physician, Dr "Pete" Isidro was there too. Once the party really got going he was up on the dance floor and it wasn't long before Femi & I started to dance too. When Dr. Pete spotted me, he came alongside and said to Femi, "I don't think Mark needs me anymore. He is doing so well. I must have healed him, I guess." And then I was closer to him a few minutes later. He said to me, "Mark - You look like you don't need me anymore. What do you think?"

I don't know what I would do without his help. "I think I am doing so well only thanks to your help. If I wasn't following the treatment plan you made for me, there is no chance I would be doing this well." Oh I really hope he does not feel that I do not need his help.

Next Tuesday, I will go see him at his office and maybe I will have to exaggerate my pain.... maybe not... 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Been Good And Getting Even Better

Revlimid at 5mg Instead of 10mg
Since I put together my last update, I've had almost a full cycle of Revlimid. The lower dosage I mentioned last time -- that's what I have been taking. Yes; it is a good sign and it's much less trouble.

small white medication capsule capital letters R-E-V on the left and 5mg on the right
Now my dose of Revlimid (generic name is Lenalidomide) is 5mg instead of the 10mg it was before. Certainly much easier than it was last time. But it is still rough. What we are trying to do is to keep the myeloma cells from duplicating. None of them are needed for the regular and right operation of the body God gave me.

Side effects are expected to come along during this course of treatment. My goodness, I know that. And my readers have been getting a glimpse of it too. However this time around, the side effects have been so much more tolerable. That is the good news.

Skip This Paragraph To Miss Yucky Side Effect Talk
Almost no edema (puffy swelling of my body -- mine affects my lower legs mostly). The constipation is the same. I go once every three days or so throughout the 21 day cycle. I did try to hurry it along with some of my laxatives near the end of the first week. That was a mistake, I guess. The cramping got really nasty and even gave me a couple sessions of horrible upsetting nausea this time. 

Okay - That's Done. What Are The Main Side Effects?
I will be staying away from Dulcolax for a while. Too bad too, because it used to be my most reliable relief. Senna worked out pretty good in the late part of the second week. It will be at the top of my list when we start again next week. The debilitating lethargy, fatigue and confusion has dropped way down. Now I get knocked around with pillows instead of bags of rice. How's that for a picture..?

Here Are The Numbers
I have felt I was running on an empty tank only the last few days. The clinical results are showing a very clear result. Take a look for yourself. They show that my fundamental blood components are at levels that are lower than typical average ones. That is exactly what the medication is intended to accomplish. Here are the new results of my Complete Blood Count:
CBC Chart

The 'L' is Low - 'N' Normal just as you would expect. So, the types of cells that have low values are the white and red blood cells, the hemoglobin, hematocrit (this one still escapes my understanding) and platelet count and mean platlet volume (not the 'angry mean; it is the 'average mean'). Click this for a high level explanation. When I asked my nurse how it looked to her, she said it's not to worry about. She called my attention to the 'blood chemistry' which she said looked very good. Here are those numbers:

Blood Chemistry Chart

Femi took a look at these numbers this morning and comforted me more. She encouraged me to pay more attention to this chart. Actually, I had not seen this second chart at all yesterday afternoon. It was in between other sheets. I only saw it after she picked it up from the papers that fell out of my folder onto our breakfast table. Her cheerful smile and her solid confidence really make it easy for me to listen to her good words. And it gave my morning truly cheerful boost.

That will wrap it up today. These numbers are here so I can give another patient or caregiver out there a peek behind the curtain. Maybe it will give you some information that will help you.

Oh - One Little Thing
If you are still reading ... could I ask you for something?

How about a short word or two right on this page in the comment box.

Please comment.. your words do so much
                                            .. more than I know how to tell you.

That's all for now,
- Mark