Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A bit of finger...

Pop culture reference: that's the name of a brief little instrumental interlude on Black Sabbath's 1970 eponymous debut CD.

Good old Ozzy...once every parent's nightmare, now the staple of NFL background music and 8th grade marching bands everywhere.

If my friend Gloria B is reading this, hello!  :)

I digress.

So, clever post titles aside, I thought I would bring you up to date on the finger situation.

I went to Arkansas last week to have a Mohs procedure done to my right index finger.  In this procedure, a chunk of flesh is razored off and then sent to pathology.  They check the margins of the tissue to ensure that all the cancer has been cut out.  If the first cut didn't accomplish it, they repeat the procedure until the edges of the tissue are completely clean.

The wife and I arrived in time to have dinner with BJ, Dr. BB and his wife KB.  A wonderful time was had by all and BB did not disappoint.  We were eating outside when he and his wife arrived...he shouted a greeting which made his wife jump about ten feet in the air.  He had some interesting jokes about misuse of my finger and how that could have resulted in this condition.  But he then turned serious and asked who would be doing the procedure (a great doctor, SD, whom he confirmed was a good choice) and who would be reviewing the tissue.  He then called his friend who ran pathology and asked him to personally review the tissue samples, which is just another example of how extraordinary BB is.  I love that man.

The next day, they chopped and chopped.  It took four separate passes at it before they got the cancer.  I was staring at my finger bone (I think) at one point, given how deep the cut was.  Pretty gnarly.  They removed the nail for good (Jill said that they literally just pulled it back towards my wrist until it popped out...yuck).  I was given a lot of lidocaine by injection into the finger so thankfully I felt nothing...at the time, that is.

I had a comically large bandage on my finger:

I changed this dressing last night, after five days.  To say it hurt is an understatement -- it was EXCRUCIATING.

With apologies to the squeamish, here's what's left of the finger.


The nurse reviewed the photo and said it "looks fantastic."   I would hate to see what something that DOESN'T look fantastic is.

Anyhow, I am told 6-8 weeks for a full recovery and 99% chance that the procedure got all the cancer, so we'll see.  Right now it's VERY painful and I'm on a fairly steady diet of Vicodin, which I'm looking forward to discontinuing as soon as I can.


  1. Oh, man... Sometimes it feels as though when it rains, it POURS, Nick. After what you've been through, this will be a breeze, man... keep the great attitude!

  2. Just discovered your blog while search for importance of Acyclovir as part of my Revlimid treatment. Very much 'enjoyed' your descriptions of the struggle ... I was diagnosed with MM in Oct 2010 follow by Velcade and Dex for 13 months. Velcade lost its effectiveness so today starting 6th cycle of Revlimid 10 mg. Main point is that your blog is the first mention of "remission" versus control with chemicals for the rest of my life. My MM was very early stage 1, no pain, no damage only a few lytek lesions. But the thought of chemo free after 4 years is mind blowing. Bob

    1. Bob, I have been a patient at Little Rock for 6 years and just got off of drugs for the first time. My prognosis with dialysis dependent kidney failure was just 3 months, and last time I was with Dr. Barlogie, he said he did not think that the MM was coming back. Little Rock may not have the best survival statistics(They are a referral center and get the most difficult cases) as noted on www.myelomasurvial.com, but they are the only clinic that believes that their is a cure for 60% of their patients using their TT protocol. So now I am looking to see what the near normal is, because for six years I experienced the new reality(some call the new normal). Good luck on your MM jouney/Gary

    2. Gary, that's wonderful to hear! How long were you on maintenance, if I may ask? Did you do longer than three years of VRD? And were you in TT3?

  3. Nick, Because I had kidney failure, I was off of protocol, but followed TT3 with kidney friendly changes. For example I got VTD-ACE, and I was on VTD maintenance. Revlimid is hard on the kidneys! I was on VTD for 4 years. I know you are considering whether to go 3 or 4. I had Dr Alsayed before Dr. Barlogie, and I had asked him if I could stop at 3 years. His reply to me was "It's working, and it is not giving you any severe side effects, Why not continue?" I decided, I would much rather be safe than sorry, especially when the hardest part was over! Nick, good luck and God bless your MM journey. Gary