Friday, November 26, 2010

Unpredictable days.....

If there's one thing we've learned it's how unpredictable days can be, in the life of a cancer patient. Bob very seldom complains, and he has a great attitude. His pain tolerance level is pretty high, so when he says "I hurt", I know it's time to react.

After two days on his feet (because he felt so good), helping with the Thanksgiving meal, as well as a trip to the Golf Course to see if his putter still fit his hand; the pain returned to his leg and hip, with a vengeance.  And, why is it that the pain is always worse at night???  Finally, after a combination of a pain pill, Tylenol, and finally a Phenergan, to make him sleep - there was relief.

This morning, he awoke again to pain in the same hip and leg. A quick call to the Cancer Clinic answering service resulted in a return call from the doctor "on call" this weekend - thankfully, it was his oncologist. My first thought was that the pain might be caused by the cancer. And, we also know that he's having reactions to the Velcade.  Dr. H is ordering an MRI, on Monday, of the pelvis and spine, to try to determine the cause of the pain.

Along with some suggestions for relieving his pain, Dr. H delivered the news that Bob's M-Spike is now at .9!! (So, the pain isn't coming from his cancer.)  He's almost in full remission with the Velcade. We've been asked if we will continue with the SCT procedure? Absolutely!

For our wonderful family and friends, and all your support, love, and prayers, we are so thankful.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We have much for which to be thankful....

Today, Bob started Round Three. Cutting right to the chase, and sharing the good news, we learned that he is in partial remission!! His M-Spike (Monoclonal Protein), also known as the Cancer Count is down to 1.3, below what it needs to be to start the Stem Cell Transplant procedure!

The WBC, RBC, Hemoglobin, and Hematocrit are all still low, but his Platelets are now 165,000 and within the acceptable range, for the first time in almost three months.

Because he's begun to experience some side effects from the Velcade (pain in his legs and left hip, and inflammation in his liver), the Velcade dosage has been reduced, and will only be administered once each week. And, because of the adverse reactions to the Velcade, there is a possibility that the SCT may need to be moved up.

We truly have something for which to be thankful, what a great week to learn this news. Could it be that we are almost ready to complete the first leg of this journey?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free week, and good days....

This is the week that Bob looks forward to; no trips to the Cancer Center and no Chemo! He's still feeling good, and has even made a few trips to his shop. He looks longingly at his tools and his woodworking magazines. And, he plans for the day when he can again start creating, as do I!

He has a voracious appetite, which is good but also hard to manage, with his diabetes and the constant blood glucose issues. At least his weight has leveled off, and he has stopped dropping pounds. He now has two types of insulin: Levimir which is long-acting, and NovoLog (which we've not yet had to use) that has to be taken before meals, based on a sliding scale. Today was one of those days that required no insulin, since his blood sugar was almost in the hypoglycemia range. Next week, when he's back on steroids all this will change!

He still has the problem with food not tasting quite right, or having no taste. The Chemo has a tendency to play havoc with the taste buds, just as the steroids do with the blood glucose. As long as both do what they're supposed to, and get him well, we'll deal with the other two issues.

I think I've become the "Queen of Charts", keeping charts on everything. I have a Vitals Chart, a Blood Glucose chart for managing the insulin, and a Lab Test Results chart so that I can track how his numbers are responding to the treatment (it makes me feel better, even if I don't always know what I'm reading!).  One of the small counters in our kitchen has now become the Medical Counter with his array of pill bottles and "pill minders" (those little Monday - Sunday thingies), so that he takes what he's supposed to, when he's supposed to.  With all that goes on, I don't leave anything to memory these days, I might have a "Senior Moment" and forget to medicate him, or over-medicate!

Life handed us lemons - we'll just keep trying to make lemonade!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Round Two ends..........

We headed to Hattiesburg, early, for the final treatment of Round Two. It was such a long day - not that we haven't had long days, in the past, but usually they've been filled with "fun" things! We started with an appointment at the Internist, so that he could review Bob's Blood Glucose readings from the past week and adjust the Levimir (Insulin).  The effects of the Dexametasone on the Blood Glucose, and managing the Insulin dosage has added another dimension to our daily routine. At least this keeps us from being bored!

The doctor visit was followed by the Cancer Clinic, and an already filled waiting room. Bob's Platelets had dropped to 62,000 and were below the approved range for administering Chemo.  This necessitated a call to the oncologist, and waiting, before they could proceed. There are always other patients, or caregivers, willing to share their stories ..... so time passes.  

His other blood work seems to be improving - little by little. We weren't able to find out what his M Spike was, and that's the important number! We'll have to wait until Thanksgiving week, and I certainly hope we'll have something for which to be thankful!

The day ended with a trip to the Southern Heart Clinic for an Ultrasound of his Carotid Arteries, as well as an Echocardiogram. Per his Internist, both were "just to be on the safe side" (for which we are thankful!).

We were finally able to head home, and breathe a sigh of relief.......Round Two (or Cycle Two, whichever you prefer) was now over. A free week, without doctors or needles (except the ones that he would have to administer, himself) lay ahead of us.

 He is still feeling good with a good appetite, and a good attitude. Thanksgiving is just ahead of us, and we are thankful.....for each and every day (and for all of you).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Feeling good.....

Where to start? Bob feels good, and has for almost two weeks.  Amazing what fluids, blood transfusions, platelets, Chemo, good doctors, and most of all .....Prayers......will do! 

Still no nausea, after the Velcade, but never leaving that to chance; he always takes a Phenergan. Not only is there no nausea,  he sleeps like a baby for an hour or two.

Now, if we could just get his blood sugar on an even keel, everything (well, almost everything) would be wonderful. Luckily, he only has to take the Dexamethasone on the day he has chemo, since it makes his blood sugar soar.  He's a Type 2 diabetic, and before the cancer, we were able to keep it under control with oral medication and diet.  Now, we're like a hospital ......testing his blood sugar before breakfast, sometimes mid-morning, and before dinner, and then adjusting his insulin dosage accordingly, each evening. When someone has cancer, it seems as if worrying about something like abnormal blood sugar levels should be at the bottom of the list. High blood sugar can affect the kidneys which can cause Renal Failure.        

He felt so good yesterday he even hung some pictures, on the sun porch, for me! BC he might have been too busy to do that - so, not that this cancer was a blessing .....but I do try to find the silver linings in this cloud!

His appetite is good, he looks good, he feels good ......what more can we ask for? Oh yes, I remember......make him well, Lord........please make him well

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another great doctor....

We continue to be so blessed with great doctors! Yesterday, Bob met with his new Internal Medicine doctor, and by the end of the visit, we both knew we had another good one.  We had a new experience - he gave us his cell phone number, in the event we needed to contact him. That action, a month ago, would have scared me to death - I would have worried that he thought Bob might be dying!

He's focused on getting Bob's Blood Sugar to 130, in spite of the fact that the Dexamethasone (steroid) has other ideas! He's now on a sliding scale dosage of insulin, at suppertime, as well as the oral medication at breakfast.  (The "suppertime" terminology was used to eliminate any question about what time-of-day, for the insulin ritual). We could be of the old Southern heritage that calls the noon meal "dinner", rather than lunch.   

This was the first GOOD checkup he'd had, in ......years? Why had we waited so long to make this change? I do believe God works in wonderous and mysterious ways, but He really didn't have to use Multiple Myeloma to send us to all these wonderful "Medicine Men" and make us realize that we needed to change doctors!

He's also now back on Plavix, and on Benicar and has to go for more testing next week - but it's all good. Let's just get the man back to wellness!

Our second stop was the Cancer Center for Dose number 2 of Velcade, in Round Two. Things again went well. He's feeling great, drinking lots of fluids to flush the chemo, and rinsing with the "recipe" (mixture of soda and salt water), to ward off mouth sores. He's doing everything he's supposed to do, trying to get well. And, believe it or not, he's feeling well enough that he's beginning to get back into the kitchen! (Gotta' watch him, though, that might just be a ploy to get an extra snack!)

As I end this post, I never want to forget to continue to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers, and support. I continue to be thankful for any, and all, success in this journey. And, I thank God for each good day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2nd Cycle begins, with some good news...

We met with Dr. Hrom, Bob's oncologist, before starting treatment one of the 2nd round of chemo. I was armed with the journal that I was keeping, which also included a list of questions and concerns. I hoped he wouldn't feel like we were bombarding him!

We had nothing to worry about, because he made us feel like Bob was his only patient that day; even though the waiting room implied otherwise. Bob's first question was: "What type of exercise can I do?" He was told he could walk, or if we had gym in our town with a pool (at which point, we laughed), swimming was the best exercise. Then, there was the "Pièce de résistance", the good doctor told him that on warm days, when he feels like it, if he rides in a cart - he can PLAY GOLF. (But only 9 holes, not the usual 36.) If his back begins to hurt, or he's tired, he must quit.

He also allayed my fears about the "deletion of Chromosome 13".  Apparently, there are two tests to determine this, and the test run on Bob was the FISH Test (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization), which is different from the cytogenetics test and results.  Since he's the expert, and this was really way above my head,  I went with his "don't worry about this". The next suggestion was - don't believe everything you read on the Internet!

We were extremely happy to hear that he felt Bob is responding to treatment! When we first met with Dr. Hrom, Bob's M Spike (Monoclonal Protein) was 5.3, and it is now down to 3.44. This is the test that must be at 1.5 or 1.6 before he can be considered for a Stem Cell Transplant.  The doctor suggested that he might be ready by February. What a great Valentine's Day gift that would be!

Because the Dexamethasone had caused his Blood Sugar to soar, the dosage was reduced to 20 mg on the day of Chemo, rather than on both the day of and day after.

His Platelets had more than doubled, and were now 132,000 - up from 53,000!  Of course, he'd had one unit of platelets just the day before, and the combination of infused platelets and chemo seemed to be doing their job.

Round Two: Day One had been good and the day went well!

Again, many thanks for all the prayers and support! Thank you, Lord, for every good day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What a great day....

in spite of the fact that we spent about 7 hours, at the hospital. Bob received 1,000 ml of fluids, 1 unit of Platelets, and is now sporting an Infusa (not Infusion, as I reported earlier) Port. The Platelets and fluids gave him renewed energy, and he feels really good this afternoon.

On days like these (except for the hospital visit), we can almost forget that he has cancer.

Again, thanks for your support and prayers - please keep them coming! And, Thank you Lord, for good days like these - we'll take a few more, if you don't mind!