Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Status Report

I guess I haven't posted a thorough update for a while, since I'm getting a lot of other inquiries; it's no bother, nice to know that I have such concerned friends and family. Everyone seems afraid to disturb me, but I appreciate hearing from you; if I'm too sick to answer a phone call or email, I will get back to you when I can.

I have been on the new chemotherapy program since last Tuesday, and have been tolerating it fairly well. It involves a switch back to the platinum-based drug that I started with back in August, but at that time I was taking another drug at the same time. The combination or dosage made me very ill, right before the wedding unfortunately. This time around I seem to be retaining my appetite and health in general, even though the schedule calls for a massive dose every two weeks. My next chemo treatment will be Thursday the 15th.

I've written about the troubles with my blood counts; the three that seem to concern the doctors the most are hemoglobin, white blood cells and platelets. We spent two weeks juggling drugs and shots to try to stimulate my bone marrow, which is crucial in the production of new blood. The radiation treatments were suspended for this time, which is the Catch-22: if we treat aggressively with radiation, it will interfere with my bone marrow. But so does the cancer; it has retreated into my bones, where the chemotherapy takes the longest to penetrate.

While off the radiation, the cancer that we were treating - in my right hip - has grown worse, and I have developed at least two new tumors above and below my right knee. Since this past Sunday, the increase in pain has made me almost lame; Gail has had to lift me out of bed several times, and support me while I stagger just to get to the bathroom. For the last two days I've only been able to keep going with my cane by taking a much larger dosage of my primary pain medication, oxycodone, and other drugs. Tuesday night I overmedicated and had some scary secondary symptoms.

The best news this week is that we finally got all three blood counts into the acceptable ranges, and the radiation treatments will resume tomorrow. We had one plan in place for my lower back/pelvic area, and a new one is being designed for my leg. These targeted treatments have proven effective in the past; we cured my left hip, left shoulder and neck this way. I have hopes that the new treatments will be as effective on my right leg, and let me be mobile again. In other good news, my weight is back up to 180 lbs, from a nadir of 171 (and a pre-cancer weight of 230). They did notice that my calcium levels are up, which I guess might be from all the Boosts and Ensures that I've been drinking, not to mention lots of milk and pudding. High calcium is not necessarily good news; it can mean that the calcium is not getting absorbed by the bones, and getting stored in the bloodstream. This can lead to other troubles like kidney stones and bone spurs.

That's the nuts and bolts of it. In general, I'm in good spirits, mainly due to my amazing wife; she looks after me physically, emotionally and nutritionally. And of course to all of my friends and family, who have all been a great support and comfort. Unable to walk or stand much, I've been keeping myself distracted with books and the internet, and with working with my hands; the model kits that I mentioned in an earlier post, and another new project that I will relate in the next.

Thank you all, and especially Gail, for your patience and love. Status Report: Hangin' in there.