Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blood counts good!

I love the honesty of this blog as I think it is one of its most valuable attributes, as I have said in the past.

And I have been willing to be very self-effacing, as needed, to retain this honesty. Like in the last post!

However, there's nothing saying I can't top off the blog with non-embarrassing posts to space it out. So here goes today's update. :)

After a week of recovery from Revlimid, I start cycle three tonight.

All the counts look good, with the exception of the mix of white blood cells. I have a lot of young cells, and not a lot of mature cells. This isn't a problem at all from a functionality standpoint. It's simply an abnormality that is easily explained by Velcade. What I described as the Logan's Run effect.

White count is at 6.6. Don't know how much of this is a response to the colds in my house, versus a normal recovery, but it is squarely in the normal range. I also have to say, TamiFlu may very well be the cure for the common cold. I've had three sore throats in the past two months. When that happens, I double up on TamiFlu one day, and return to daily doses the next day. In each case, by the next morning, the sore throat is gone.

Anyhow, white count is good. Platelets are at 136. Not robust, but in a decent range. They will probably continue to go up over the next few days, although the Revlimid will begin to depress them again. Not a problem -- they seem to bop around in the 100 to 150 range.

Hemoglobin is a very normal 14.8! Again, it will probably start to edge down as the Revlimid kicks in, but it never really falls below 13 and change, so I'm in normal mode. N.B., to those other MM travelers that follow along, when I talk about red blood counts I always use Hemoglobin (as opposed to actual red cell counts, hematocrit or other measures) since this is what Arkansas tracks to determine the need for a unit of blood (below 10 and BB is thinking about it, below 9 and you are on your back with a bag or two being put into you).

Then there's that kooky RDW figure...the one that measures variability in red blood cell width. This was always high during cancer therapy, and even a bit afterwards (it is also a hallmark of anemia). But it has been consistently healthy, now at 12.7, and pretty steady for the past two months. Good stuff!

All looks good. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

P.S. I promised I wouldn't politicize this blog, but the impending healthcare legislation is SO HORRIBLE that I have to urge you all to oppose it. It will not work as it is stated, it will definitively decrease the quality of care in this country, and for those of us with Myeloma (or those who are diagnosed from here on out) it may very well result in BB's protocol not being covered. There are good people that follow this blog in the UK, New Zealand, and elsewhere who are not allowed to receive Velcade because they are notionally responding (or could respond) to other therapy...even if that means partial response / stable disease. Medicare doesn't cover Velcade. BB's clinic covers people that are not covered by the government...and does so because the current system allows them to make enough money to do so.

We can address things like coverage for children under 18, and mandating that coverage cannot be denied for pre-existing conditions, without completely destroying the system that provides us with the best access to the best quality care in the world. There's a reason the vast majority of Myeloma research is done in the US!

Plus, consider this: when Medicare was launched, the government estimated 1990 costs would be $10 billion. Actually 1990 costs? TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY BILLION. If I was off by a factor of 29 in a critical estimate, I'd be fired. No such redress occurs in government.

Okay...soapbox mode off. I won't bring it up again! :) I am more than happy to discuss / debate this with any of you in a friendly fashion. However I would ask that if you want to do so, you do it via email to artisannvandyk at earthlink dot net, rather than in responses here, as I really don't want to turn this blog into a political forum...I just felt the need to vent on this issue since I've been thinking about it and since the five people in the doctor's office getting infused with me today were all opposed to it and scared to death about its implications for them.


  1. Nick: I have a perspective on what will happen if we go national on health care. I'm a former US Marine. I last my job in July and as such lost my health care. I said to myself "you were in the Marines, go to the VA, Well they turned me down flat. If I was in a "special" group I could have got it. If I was a minority, was in during a conflict, if I had a service disability etc.. I did my 4 years, enjoyed it, got out went to work and paid my own way, so no benefits. The VA is national health care and is a picture of what Americans can expect. There will be "special" groups that will have access, and the rest of us who pay our own way will be left out. If, I did get the coverage, I would have lost my Dr., my oncologist and my ability to go to UCSF or the hospital of my choice. I would also have to use the "traditional" treatments... no trials etc. So I'm with you.... Keep what we have and say no...

  2. The political plan for healthcare is not CARE at all. I hope readers will wake up and realize what is going on.
    And, it is really great news that you are progressing so well, Nick. I hope others facing MM find the combination(s) that work for them to have similar results!

  3. Nick:

    Happy Thanksgiving! I count your drive and passion for defeating myeloma as nothing but a a blessing, for which I am most grateful. Let's see if some overindulgence in turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes has a miraculous affect on hemoglobin counts and neuropathy! My taste buds are finally back and I'm going to use them! :)

    This last year of my MM journey has added an amazing paradigm to my life. I am incredibly thankful to be at home with my family this year, in CR and motivated to help the Myeloma fight in any way I am able. As always, thanks for your frank and cogent dicussion via this blog. It continues to be important to me, and, no doubt, to many others.

    Nick, I agree with your assesnment of the Health Care initiatives proposed. We need help, but this isn't it. I've had some interesting conversations with Missouri's legislators in Washington, including Sen. Kit Bond (MO) who is quoted as saying "On this Thanksgiving, this is one turkey no one could be thankful for." Pardon the turkey, kill the legislation.

    And if I may:

    Steve Ritter: First of all, thank you for your service to this country. As you know, there are no former Marines. No matter that you served in peace time, you stood on-guard against those willing to take away our freedom. We owe you a great debt.

    On 10 November of this year my company produced the 234th USMC Birthday Ball in Branson, MO. Col. Oliver North (USMC-ret) was the keynote speaker and we had hundreds of active duty, retired and reservist Marines and their guests in our midst. To say that this time-honored ceremony was inspiring is a gross understatement. I suggest that anyone rub shoulders with a Marine, you will be better for it.

    Though I have never worn a uniform of the armed services, the courage, sacrifice and an esprit de corps that I have witnessed through years of working on national Veterans events has left an indelible mark on my life. Men and women of all branches have unkowingly taught me how to battle Multiple Myeloma head-on. My day spent in the UAMS Stem Cell Transpant Ward with a Marine Corps helicopter pilot from Alabama, via Viet Nam, changed my life. BTW- that's where I met Nick and Jill, too. Difficult way to meet people, but the fruit is tremedous.

    Again, thank you for your service, Mr. Ritter. Semper Fi! You deserve so much better from this country and the VA. I will pray for your complete healing. Uh-Rah!

    Thanks, Nick. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Sean M.

  4. Nick,
    Do you get the Freelite test done? My understanding is this test is more sensitive than the immunofixation test for low numbers of myeloma counts.

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