Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Last Chance

I wish I had written three weeks ago about the Saturday I spent doing yard work but having just posted about planting my tomato garden, I spared you the story of cleaning the lily pond, drinking Mexican beer, re-potting palms and the like. I must say, though, I felt and worked like a man twenty years younger. It was a grand day.

The next day I noticed a slight backache, nothing particularly surprising or alarming. It didn't prevent me from revving up the motorcycle and tearing up the pavement on a pretty Sunday morning. I wasn't knee dragging around tight corners at idiotic speed, and I was wearing Kevlar-armored jeans and jacket, but, still, there's nothing like raw acceleration to redden a man's blood! The bike will do zero to sixty in something under five seconds (but not with a heavy old man on the seat).

Over the next week the ache slowly worsened. By the end of two weeks I was bravely trying to cope with heavy narcotic painkillers (Oxycontin 40, which is huge for me). Bravely, because I was constantly fighting the urge to regurgitate and giving up seemingly forever the functioning of my alimentary canal, including the pleasure of eating. I whined a lot, but at least I didn't hurt.

For reasons unclear and undoubtedly weird the pain diminished considerably on Monday, and by Tuesday I needed no narcotics, although it did take a long while to become fully uncorked. Some subsequent days have been easy, some more difficult. Yesterday was a bear, but no worse than half a Vicodin kind of bear.

Apparently, there is a pathological crack or something like a crack at the left attachment point of the sacrum to the ilium (no, nothing to do with Ilium of Helen of Troy, although how she threw around her backside figured prominently in Homer's epic). An MRI next Wednesday might tell us what the hell happened and what, other than another transplant, needs to be done about it.

Speaking of torture, which is a fashionable subject these days, Friday I endured another bone marrow biopsy, this one a tad more gruesome than most. An instrument like the one at the right drilled through my pelvis like a German whacking down the Berlin Wall — the doctor might as well have been using a sledge hammer. There was a lot of drilling (his) and cursing (mine) involved. Particularly awful was the final step, the sucking out of a deep sample of the marrow. I wonder if biting down on a leather thong or a big lead bullet would actually help.

With luck the results will be encouraging, so there may be a chance that a second transplant will begin as soon as next week. You might recall that the biopsy of February 24 resulted in a surprising 60-70% plasma-cell infiltration of the marrow (2% or less is normal). That stopped the first attempt at Transplant Two. Now, after two cycles of brutal chemo (DVD-R), my future (that is, whether or not I have one) depends upon seeing a significant reduction in that percentage.

This blog has become rather more far-ranging than I had originally intended, mostly because of the indefinite postponement of the February autologous stem-cell transplant. The original purpose of this blog, as stated under its title above and in the first post of last January, was to produce a more-or-less daily chronicle the events of the transplant. Many begin with the intention of doing a similar thing, but few are able to keep it up — it just becomes too hard. I am resolved to succeed even though it will be a repeat transplant and likely to be missing much of the surprise and horror of the first — at least I hope so.

In the event that there is no second transplant, then I'll continue with whatever we do next (probably clinical trials) until I'm no longer able to do so. One way or another, I hope the result will be a valuable record.

1 comment:

  1. Lon - I do not understand why a biopsy needs to be so painful - is there some essential need for the patient to be awake during it? Or why you can't have some brief relief while it is being done? So sorry to hear about your tortures. Just wanted you to know I'm still out here wishing you well.


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