Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bone marrow confirmation

Just got a call from CS (Caleb Sumthin-or-other) who is BB's Physician's Assistant. My insurance wants more tests run before they will approve treatment. Apparently they need an X-ray of my jaw and to run a PSA test. Okay. Whatever. Hopefully I can do this at Dr. SH's offices in Beverly Hills on Friday but the schedule is getting pretty snug now.

I also need to get my hair cut. My stylist and I discussed this and he said he advises his clients going through chemo or radiation to get a close-cut hairdo that is still a bit more stylish than a simple buzz-cut. It's less depressing to have short hair fall out than to have hair that's 2-3 inches long come out in clumps. Sounds right. But time's a wastin'!

Oh...I almost forgot the important news. The chromosomal analysis of the tumor cells is the exact same as the bone marrow sample. That is, no chromosome 1 abnormalities, no second clone, no weirdness. This validates the gene array that BB did and overturns the weird results coming out of Cedars.

The calm before the storm...

So we're taking a few days to spend in Northern California with family and a few friends before I move to Little Rock next week. We drove up and made good time -- as we drove over the Bay Bridge towards San Francisco I reflect that I'd be missing California quite a bit.

The mood is improved. I'm not quite 100% where I need to be but the negativity and anger is almost all gone now. Thanks again for all the emails, calls and other shows of support, from close friends to people that I don't see nearly often enough to my new friends met through this process. You are all very special to me and you all make a difference.

My friend PW falls into the category of people that I don't see nearly often enough. Paul, you left a comment in my last post that had me laughing out loud. So I dedicated the following paragraph, FROM MEMORY, to you (nobody else will have a clue anyway):
"I could see my tires and wheels flyin' through the air in my rearview mirror as I struggled to keep my rig under control. The cars in back of me were swervin' to avoid the tires fallin' off the back of my rig. One truck was damaged when it hit a tire. Thank goodness no-one was hurt...and thank goodness for Good Sam VIP!" Signed Russell G. Smith, Good Sam Member #194443.

So how close was it? I'll look it back up. It boggles the mind that I can recall most of that 18 years later. Worse still, what IMPORTANT things have I failed to recall because brain cells have been dedicated to recalling that? :)

For the other 99.99% of you, that was a silly quote from the literature of a client that PW and I had back in our management consulting days, and that client (an operator of affinity clubs for RV owners) lent itself to somewhat less than polite jabbing at the Deep South. And here I am, 18 years later, reliant upon the Deep South for a cure. Ironic and humbling in equal measure. I am sorry, people of Arkansas, for pre-judging you. This is all director John Boorman's fault: Deliverance...what hell hath thou wrought???

In related disease news, I'm getting a bit more symptomatic. The one lesion on my rib is causing constant low grade pain and I feel it as the rib runs around to my back. I haven't taken any pain meds in the last week, in part because Advil could exacerbate my stomach problems, but in part because it's still manageable.

I hugged my father-in-law yesterday and for the first time felt a twinge in my left clavicle, where another lesion is forming. So I think that's all the focal lesions:

1. Left scapula -- noticed before diagnosis, manifested in pain during golf swing.

2. Right rib -- noticed in mid December. Always there, sometimes painful and sometimes not so much unless I sneeze or cough, which are two simple functions that I dread these days.

3. Lesions in my vertebrae -- noticed in late December -- crippling pain after attempting full golf swing.

4. Right clavicle -- noticed in yesterday's hug. Not painful, really, but I felt it fo sho.

5. Right hip -- sitting in the car for six hours yesterday pointed this one out to me when I stood up. More of a dull soreness.

I'm also noticing increased congestion / post-nasal drip which I don't normally have. This is white blood cells dropping and faulty immunoglobulin made by my worthless cancer plasma cells. The immune system isn't working as it should these days. I'm also tired fairly often, which is dropping red blood cell counts. Soon, my pretties, you will reap the whirlwind of chemo. Enjoy your last few days of freedom!

It's a beautiful day in San Francisco and we'll be leaving shortly for the drive to my mother's house in Santa Rosa, where we'll spend the day before having dinner with friends. Then it's back to San Francisco with a day-trip to Napa at some point. I'm getting to know Jayson Woodbridge, the mastermind behind cult winery Hundred Acre Vineyards, which makes some of the most exclusive wine in the US. He's 41, is a former investment banker who gave that up to start a winery a few years ago, and he intimated to me that he himself beat cancer. So we'll have lots to talk about -- and hopefully some amazing and rare wines to enjoy as he has invited us to the winery (which is closed to the public) for drinks and food. He makes no white wine, so I brought one of my best white bottles as I would think it would be quite boorish to bring a varietal that he makes.

We are still working on an apartment...other than BB and Typhoid Bonnie, there is no sense of urgency in the south. Jill is getting fidgety because she wants to be organized and it's tough when we have no idea where we are living -- and I don't blame her one bit. I also haven't yet set a firm start date, because we were supposed to hear from BB but did not. I emailed Bonnie, who is always quick to respond (I joke about her boy-crying-wolf business but she is an extremely caring person). Bonnie's response was that she was "in a crisis with somebody" and would call me today.

Knowing Bonnie, this could mean:

(a) a neutropenic patient being rushed to the hospital with pneumonia and a dangerous fever


(b) somebody misplaced the jug that they have to pee in for urine tests.

Never can tell. But again, it's impossible to deny that her heart is in the right place and she is fully dedicated to her patients -- even if that includes the occasional needless panic. :)

Be well, everybody. I'll write later in the week.