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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Back to the Farber

Today was my monthly visit to the Farber.  As usual, I dutifully collected my 24-hour urine sample yesterday.  Having no "official" containers on hand, I opted to use an empty half-gallon plastic milk bottle for the purpose.  The last time I did that, the blood draw nurse asked me whether I was bringing her a present of apple cider.  Very funny.  Today, however, there was no record in the computer that they were expecting me to bring in a sample.  That was interesting.  I decided to look into this further during the day.

My appointment with Dr. Richardson was for 2:00, but I had no illusions about my wait time.  I downloaded a couple of games to my iPhone (Word Jigsaw and Sudoku Killer).  I had plenty of time to play both while we waited.  There was a Chinese family in the waiting room.  I didn't get to talk to them much (their English was limited), but they had flown in from China to get treatment at the Farber for their father.  Wow!  That really puts the one-hour drive I have to get there in its proper perspective.  How fortunate am I to have DFCI almost at my doorstep.  I never complain about the traffic going in or out.  Just think if I had to come from China.

My blood test results came back pretty good.  MY WBC, HCT, and Hgb have all improved, and my red blood cell count (RBC) is 4.18, almost up to the normal range of 4.2.  Also, my platelets are up to 185, and, most importantly, my absolute neutrophil count (ANC) jumped to 1.95 from 1.65 last month, which is almost in the normal range.  The only number that concerned me is that my bilirubin jumped up to 2.1, the highest it's ever been.  A high bilirubin count could be a sign of a liver problem.  However, when I met with Muriel, she said everything looked fine and for me not to worry about it.  OK then, I won't.

I also got the radiology report back for my skeletal survey from last month.  In the summary it said, "Multiple left-sided rib fractures, given linear appearance, likely post-traumatic.  These may be related to the fall described last summer...".  Apparently I broke my left 4th through 8th ribs on my historic fall from the ladder, which might help explain why I could hardly move for about 2-3 months afterwards.  Of course now that that's healed, it's nothing to worry about now.

The blood test results were encouraging, but the most exciting news I got today was that I no longer have to provide a 24-hour urine sample every month!  I only have to do this every 3 months from now on.  Hooray!  Whoopeedoo!  This may not sound like a big deal, but I have to tell you that this urine collection thing is a real pain in the ass.  Just carrying the brown paper bag in with everybody nodding knowingly, "I know what's in there", kinda sucks.  Also, trying to remember not to pee in the toilet (or the woods for that matter) for a whole day is quite a challenge.  A partial weight has been lifted.  Hallelujah!

Still awaiting Dr. Richardson, I went for my Zometa infusion.  Just as that was finishing, Dr. Richardson arrived at 4:40 pm.  Tada!  Only 2 hours and 40 minutes late.  No surprise there.  It was really great to see him after all these months.  He assured me that he is keeping close track of my progress from Mary, his nurse, and he is always available when needed.  He thinks I'm looking great, that my numbers look fine, and he is optimistic that I will stay in remission for quite a while.  He also said not to worry about the radiology report, as it has no relevance to the MM.  No lesions or focal lucencies, which could be caused my MM, were noted.  Some of the stuff in there, like "extensive vascular calcifications" are normal for someone my age.  It's nice to no that I'm normal for an old fart.

He is also very enthusiastic about some of the recent clinical trial results, especially, pomalidomide, which should provide an even better alternative to Revlimid, should that stop working for me sometime in the future.  It was very uplifting to see him again.  Screw the long wait!  It was a good day.



  1. I love that phrase "normal for someone my age". Heck, it's also "normal" for someone our age to be dead. Speaking of that, one of our neighbors died last week at age 65. Reading her obit we learned that she died after "a 7 year struggle with MM". Yikes!

    Your OCRM

  2. That is excellent news. I just have to disagree slightly with your last sentence. As a fellow myeloma survivor IMO everyday in remission is a GREAT day!