Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And the cure for horrific dysentery is...VEGAS?!?

I have just returned from a weekend in Vegas for the Final Four.  This trip is a recurring tradition with some friends and was planned long ago, so even though I felt pretty crummy the past couple of weeks, I was determined to go.

The trouble began about ten days ago.  I have always had GI issues while on Velcade, but I'd taken a couple of weeks off in preparation for the Bone Marrow Biopsy that I needed to have done in Arkansas (Velcade monkeys with the bone marrow and if it is in the system it can lead to inaccuracies in the testing).

I had not yet resumed the Velcade because I was taking the family away for a couple of days before Easter and I didn't want to experience the GI issues (pain, gastroparesis -- difficulty digesting, etc.) while we were all away.

Unfortunately, we went to dinner in San Diego at a Mexican place and I felt immediately awful.  Nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.

The severe diarrhea persisted -- worse than usual.

I was (and remain) concerned that all this treatment has done damage to my innards.  I was in so much pain over the Easter weekend that I thought I was going to need to go to the ER for pain management and to find out what was wrong with me.  I knew it couldn't be something really bad like stomach cancer because my PET two weeks ago was clean.  I called my primary care physician's office over the weekend and they suggested in admit myself to the ER; I got ahold of BB's physicians' assistant and he said I needed to get an upper and lower endoscopy; I got ahold of my local oncologists's office and they said to just take a lot of pain killers and deal with it on Monday (this would have been a week ago yesterday).

So I took the pain killers, waited it out, and thought about what it might be.

Since I had recently been on antibiotics, I thought it might be C Diff, a nasty bacteria that forms in the gut if there isn't enough "good bacteria" to offset it.  Myeloma patients can get this and it's very enervating and potentially pretty bad news.   It could also be Crohn's Disease, which is related to immune system problems.  It could be other things as well.

I got a referral to a gastro enterologist and made that appointment for last Thursday.  Meanwhile I got in to see my primary care doctor on Tuesday AM.  He thought it was treatment related, might be C Diff, could be Crohn's Disease but thought it was unlikely because "you would look sicker than you do."  So...we ran a bunch of tests.  Not the fun kind.   The kind that you take at home and then bring back and that require gloves and vials of goop and basically it's a debasing experience I wouldn't wish on anybody.  Blech.

Anyhow, I then went to see the gastroenterologist, who was a remarkable guy named Dr. LJ who actually knew of BB because years ago he helped invent a flow cytometry test that was used by BB who was, at the time, at MD Anderson.  It's a small world after all, as my employer points out.

The bottom (no pun intended) line is this:  (1) tests eventually came back negative for everything including C Diff, (2) I'm getting the endoscopy on the 26th, and (3) SHOCKINGLY ENOUGH...even though the horrible GI problems persisted for several more days, I went to Vegas and came back and now, I feel...fine.


My close friends have known me to make the observation:  "Go to Vegas healthy, come back sick...go to Vegas sick, come back dead."  To this I might have to add..."Go to Vegas with intestinal problems...come back cured."

It's as though all the germs saw the environs of smoke, booze, gambling, etc. and panicked, fleeing my body.

I'm thinking there's a business here...I remember vaguely in my youth my grandmother went on some health tour where they brought a bunch of tourists to squat in a Uranium mine someplace...either that or to see a statue of the Virgin weeping in some grotto someplace.  And the tour guide charged money.  I could organize tours of Vegas casinos for people with bad gas...other than the fact that I would want to keep a wide berth from the rest of the group, it could be a pretty good racket.