Sunday, January 20, 2013

My First Side Effect

On Monday I started new chemotherapy which my doctor preferred. It required me to take aspirin as well. The aspirin serves as a blood thinner as a preventive for blood clotting. On Wednesday morning as I looked in the mirror to prepare for school I noticed that I had more forehead than usual. As I was leaving for school, my fedora sat about an inch higher on my head than I was accustomed to and felt quite tight. I asked my family members and they did not see a difference and no one noticed at school buy by the time I got home it was quite noticeable. My daughter Michaela thought that I had lost hair. The hat had given me an incredible hat ring. My forehead gave me a look that made me feel like putting a couple of bolts on either side of my neck (think about it). I felt as fine as any other day but my family encouraged me to stop the pills until after I consulted with the doctor. He said to go to the emergency room if it worsened but otherwise to come in the next morning to be checked. It didn't get worse and by next morning the swelling had sunk to my eyebrows. Thursday was a day that I was noticed the most by others. "Did Velda smack you in the face?" is an example of a few comments that I received. Friday the swelling had sunk to my eyes which did seem to be noticed as much. When I was checked Thursday morning I brought the aspirin with me. The nurse read the container meticulously and discovered that there was a warning that it could cause facial swelling. Who reads the  warning labels on aspirin! So it looks like aspirin is out. Their guess is that it was retention of wate. I am to resume the chemo pills on Monday with a prescription blood thinner.  I still am feeling great and continue to lead a life pretty close to normal for me. I would like to reiterate from the last blog that the numbers seem to have turned a corner in the right direction. Now they need to plummet precipitously (i.e. decrease very rapidly). Thank you for praying.

P.S. I am sorry I didn't take pictures (but not very sorry).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Overall, going in the right direction"

Those were the words of my doctor after our review of the labs today. There are 4 indicators that he referenced. These numbers show improvement by decreasing in value because they are measuring the disease.The most important one stayed the same. We had hoped for better but at least it didn't increase. I will not give you technical terms (e.g. Beta Z M) but quote the numbers. These are all changes since the last month. One decreased from ~33,000 to ~14,000 which is an improvement of 55%. Another decreased from ~10 to 5.7 which is a 43% improvement. Most encouraging is that the kidney indicator dropped from 2.8 to 2.4. This 14% drop in a month indicates that my kidneys are responding (Yeah!). We asked the doctor what the goals are and he said that they have to  return to normal. Even with these improvements I am a long way from normal (some of you may assert that I was never normal in the first place). Yesterday I started the new cutting edge chemo and the doctor is hoping it will accelerate this good trend because it needs to move faster. He is still "amazed"(his word) that I am not sick. He is glad of the level of nearly normal activity that I am able to maintain because he believes it is a key to my health. With my blood count up, I am feeling really well. I may start riding the bike to school again.

Spiritually. Sometimes circumstances make it easy to praise God. Velda and I (as well as our doctor) were pretty upbeat today. We felt like we have made it over a hump. Velda provided the verse for this blog entry. Jeremiah chapter 33. In verse 3 God says to "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Many Christians have found comfort in this verse. We as well as many of you have been consistently calling and will continue faithfully. Thank you all. Later in verses 6b and 7 God says "Behold . . . I will cure them, and reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first." God has provided me and my family with an abundance of peace and we are putting our hope in Him to build me back up as I was at the first.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gaining Understanding

I am beginning to understand why the reports I get can seem to conflict. The nurses check my lab reports to make sure that my blood levels are good to take the chemotherapy. My blood levels have been improving since the lowest point in October. In fact all my blood levels have now either reached normal levels or are very close. So the nurse gave me a good report this week. The hematologist (blood doctor) checks on the disease. I see him about once a month. The level of my blood is not an indication as to how the chemo is affecting the disease. Therefore the doctor's report may not follow suit. I will see him this Tuesday. I haven't seen my kidney doctor for awhile because treating the myeloma is first priority. As a result I haven't much to say about how my kidneys are doing because it hasn't been addressed. Hopefully my entry next week will be more illuminating.

Spiritually. I just listened to a talk on "Agents of the Impossible". The speaker started by stating that we are people with impossible situations. I heartily agreed at that point. He then stated that we are surrounded by people with impossible situations as well. This helped me see that even though I have some difficult things to face and God is infinitely interested in my situation, it is not all about me. I must still focus on how to be an agent for God in the lives of the people around me. That is my first priority.