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Friday, February 21, 2014

A Year Ago

Last summer, Pat Killingsworth suggested on his blog that we have a Myeloma Beach Party in Florida this winter for us MM patients to get together and collectively give a defiant one-fingered salute to MM.  I was enthusiastic and encouraged him to go ahead with it, so I have been looking forward to this adventure for months.  However, when Pat chose the date for the party, I was chagrined to find that I can't go!  It is scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 22, but this is the one weekend of the winter that I have a conflict.  Darn it all anyway!

Tomorrow I leave for Ocean Isle Beach, NC for a week-long golfing vacation.  This has been an annual event for my son, Jeff, my good friend, Bobby, and me for the past 5 years.  We will be meeting up with my brother, Terry, and sixteen other would-be golfers from near my home town of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  I really hate to miss Pat's party at the Bahama Breeze Island Grill in Tampa tomorrow, but there is nothing that could get in the way of this golf outing!

Well, that is to say, almost nothing.  On this Friday evening, one year ago, I was all packed and ready to fly out the next day when Gretchen had her terrible fall down the basement stairs.  So I spent the next couple of days in the Surgical ICU watching her fight for her life.  Golf was but a distant thought at the time.  Thankfully, Gretchen pulled through.  Her recovery has been miraculous, but still, the last year has been a long, slow, rocky road.  As you probably know, there are no miracle cures for head injuries.  Just look at the litany of athletes who continue to suffer the effects of multiple concussions.  Things are just never quite the same.  However, Gretchen has done a wonderful job of adjusting to her "new normal", and we both take heart every time there is an incremental improvement.

We're going to celebrate her making it through the past year by going out for a late lunch today.  Actually, it will be a celebration for both of us, since I made it through another year as well. Hooray for us!  In the meantime, I have padlocked the door to the basement (just kidding).

Weber gas grill
As you can see from this photo, I haven't been using my grill a lot lately.  You can also see in the background that the Merrimack River is frozen solid.  This has been a tough winter.  I would be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to getting out of Dodge for a while.  It's supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny in Ocean Isle Beach on Sunday.  That does not suck.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Farber Delayed

Last week, Paul and Muriel sent me home without my Zometa infusion and put a hold on my Revlimid because of my cold, and they scheduled me to come back today to resume my treatment.  I'm glad they did, because I felt like shit for the next few days after that.  I was really tired and all I wanted to do was sleep.  That's what I mostly did from Monday afternoon until Friday morning.  I was told we had a snow storm during that time.  Maybe so...I could have cared less.  I did get up Thursday morning to shovel the front walk before heading back to bed, though.

Anyway, by Friday I felt better, so I went to get my second golf lesson (courtesy of Secret Santa Pam).  I took my first lesson two weeks ago.  My lessons involve hitting balls from a partly heated shed (I really want to emphasize the word 'partly') onto an actual driving range.  During my first lesson, the outside temperature was 15 degrees, and the so-called heater didn't help much at all.  This time, it was a balmy 29 degrees outside, so it was somewhat better.  I actually had some feeling in my fingers this time.  I think I'm learning something, but the proof of the pudding will be on the golf course when I head down to Ocean Isle Beach on Feb. 22.  I'll have to see what it's like to hit the ball without being all bundled up in winter clothes.  I felt like Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story".  If I had fallen down, all I could have done would be to make snow angels among the golf balls. 

Today's visit to the Farber went well, although everything was behind schedule today for some reason.  That's OK.  I just put aside the time and go with the flow when I go there.  I noticed today that some people were getting all worked up because things were behind schedule, but you know what?  Just chill!  Shit happens, and I long ago got used to just taking things as they come, especially as a patient of Paul Richardson.  Usually, everything is pretty smooth, but if not, so what?  They're doing the best they can.

Maybe my attitude was influenced by the fact that Gretchen and I attended a workshop at the Insight Meditation Center in West Newbury this past Saturday.  It was 3 1/2 hour workshop combining meditation and yoga.  It was really cool and I enjoyed it a lot.  I was actually surprised that I could spend time meditating and concentrating on my breathing for quite a while without my mind wandering a lot or getting bored.  That's a first for me.  Also, I haven't done any yoga for quite a while, so I really enjoyed getting back a little into that practice. 

My pathology results from last week's blood test were good again, so I'm still on a roll with this remission thing.  Yay!  The only fly in the ointment may be my iron level.  They didn't test that today, because they want at least 6-8 weeks to see if the iron pills are having an effect.  However, Mary seemed a bit concerned that I might have some unexplained internal bleeding.  She gave me a package for me to test whether there is any blood in my stool.  I got what she called a "hat" to use to collect the stool sample.  Now I know what it means to go shit in your hat.  Anyway, I will get that back to her sometime soon to see if there is any other diagnostic procedure that needs to be done.

I haven't heard yet from my dermatologist about scheduling surgery for my two squamous cell carcinomas.  I don't think there is any urgency on this, but I hope to try to get these done some time in early March, after I get back from screwing up my golf game in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.  I have to say, with all the snow we've had lately, I can't wait to get to a nice warm sunny place where I can get some more skin cancer.  Just kidding!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Monday was my monthly visit to the Farber.  Sinc Mary McKenney was on vacation, I was scheduled to meet with Dr. Richardson.  Sure enough, he was right on schedule, two and a half hours after the appointed time.  It was great to see him, as usual.  Unfortunately, I had developed a head cold and chest congestion, so he deferred my Zometa infusion for a week.  He also took me off the Revlimid for a week and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic.  

Since then, I have felt worse, and I have spent much of the last two days sleeping.  I think I'm starting to feel a little better now, so I hope I'm on the mend.

When I got home from the Farber, there was a letter from my dermatologist, Dr. Reohr.  Sure enough, two of the three biopsies she took came back positive.  The one on my face is a possibly invasive squamous cell carcinoma, and the one on my arm is a well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma.  I wasn't too pleased with that diagnosis.  I especially didn't like the term "invasive".  I checked online, and as far as I can tell, these can both be removed safely without any concern for them spreading.  Still...  I will have to go in for surgery soon to have them removed, hopefully after my golf trip at the end of February.

Normally, I would prattle on about this and that, but I'm not feeling on top of my game right now, so I'll make this short and sweet.  Until next time.