Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Belated reporting of last checkup

Where has the time gone?  Children are back in school, my band (a time-consuming project) has been rehearsing for a brief European tour of sorts, and my job remains a demanding one.  Life is busy!

I had a good checkup in Arkansas.  I remain in complete remission.  But it wasn't a perfect one.

First, there was a brief scare when my bone marrow biopsy came back with 13% plasma cells in the aspirate, 10% in the core.  Recall, gentle readers, that the core marrow is more important since that is where new cells are being generated.

At any rate, such a level of plasma cells was deemed "abnormal plasmacytosis" on my chart, with several studies still ongoing.  The core was negative for myeloma, so that much was good...but I didn't like the number of plasma cells.

I was pretty unnerved for about an hour until the physician's assistant CR came in and said it was likely high because I was recovering from a cold.  He had a cold himself, and suggested that his plasma cells were probably 30% right now.  Even as I exhaled, my mind went back to a conversation with Kathy Giusti from around my diagnosis where she had said that it's a bad idea to have a blood test, even, when you have a cold since immunoglobins all shoot up at that time.  Well, the blood was negative for Myeloma, and it all looked good.  But I think there was some residual reaction from my immune system, hence the plasma cells.  In any case, no big deal.

I was somewhat saddened, though, to look at the MRI and see that the last four little lesions in my spine are stable -- I was hoping they would fully resolve.  BB was somewhat perturbed by this same thing.  So he prescribed more Zometa.  I'll return in six months, and we'll see what things look like then.  In the meantime, I'll continue to get my cancer markers every two weeks from the lab out here.  I anticipate there'll be nothing of note.

Twelve more months of maintenance, hopefully, and then we'll see how to transition off drugs and what my immune system looks like.  Will I be on Acyclovir for the rest of my life?  Will I need to be reimmunized?  Can I expect my immune system to recover and behave normally?  Interesting and important questions for a Myeloma patient.

There's more to report but work calls...so I'll fill you in on the other stuff in the days ahead.


  1. Thanks for a very interesting report, Nick, albeit a bit unnerving! A couple of cycles back I postponed a LR trip b/c I had a cold and didn't want the BMB, etc #s skewed.

    I, too, have been contemplating what life will be like post the 3 year maintenance. No doubt it would entail untold wealth and opportunity, or at least a bit more ENERGY! All in all, things are fine, and I am grateful.

    Break a leg (not literally) on the gig across the pond.

    You know, every myeloma doc ought to have a PA with the initials 'CR'. Cheers, friend! Sean

  2. Good and hopeful report, Nick, and intending the rest are much less stressful!

  3. Nick, just found your blog today. Your post on the Noonday Devil made me chuckle just when I needed to. Thanks from Sydney, Australia.

  4. Nick - Glad to hear all is going well, and your scare wasn't a real scare. Keep up the good work!

  5. Nick - I've been a fan of Redemption for the last 2.5 years or so. I always wondered why the band toured so little... I had no idea that you are suffering from cancer.

    Your attitude towards this "thing" is so inspiring... as inspiring as your music.

    I wish i was 25% of the man you are! i think that if i were in your shoes i would have given up long ago. What an amazing will power!

    Anyways.. take care. I'm happy you feel good and i hope it stays this way!

  6. Glad you got a good report, I think I was there about a week before you! Maybe one of these times we will overlap. I would have completely freaked out by seeing that on the report, and I'm very glad CR and BB thought it was normal. It definitely will be a good thing to keep in mind since I'm sure I'll have a cold at some point when i go for restaging.