This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Friday, February 1, 2008

Day +23 Settled and exhausted

It's been 5 days since returning home and I havent even turned on my computer from Sunday for my last post until now. Mental energy has not been what I had hoped since chemo. I have short spans of mental energy and try to make the most of it. I suppose it's like physical energy. Little of that too. My docs say the best way to get energy back is to burn some up now. Take a walk, read a paper. My walks max out around 100 yards before I'm ready to fall back into my recliner and watch another mind-numbing episode of presidential debates. That is soon followed by nausea so I flip channels to find an episode of Family Guy, much easier to get past the brain neurons that filter BS. Anyway, that is meant as an apology of sorts for not posting sooner. There continues to be terrific news.

First of all I'd like to tell you that the Scripps blood lab was able to isolate one of my new red blood cells on a slide and take a picture. You should be able to see that on the right. This happy little guy is one of MANY! You see, last Sunday my Hemoglobin (a type of red blood cell) was around 9.0. Normal range for Hgb is 13.9 - 16.0. This morning my Hgb was 12.3. This is a higher number than I've had for Hgb in over 2 years. We, including my doctors, are flabbergasted at the rapid expansion of this important stem cell line. The good news doesnt end there. My white blood cells, without the assistance of Neupogen have reached 4.5, the bottom of the normal WBC range! My stem cells have not ignored their third responsibility, platelets. My platelets have gone from 32 to 79 the last 5 days. 110 is bottom of the normal range. The doctors say this is truly unusual rapid progress on myeloid cell growth following a stem cell transplant. Add to this the fact that the doctors have found NO evidence yet (cross fingers) of Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD), including rashes, fevers and more, makes me a very happy, but exhausted, camper.

A word about GVHD. Usually there are unforeseen differences in even a 'exact' stem cell match that will result in a certain type of the new white blood cells (the graft) having 'issues' with one or more organs in the body (the host). It is a common problem for people who get new stem cells from unrelated donors. You would not have this problem at all if your donor was an identical twin sibling.

Anyway, the longer I go without GVHD symptoms, the more is looks like I lucked out and received a better than 'exact' match. Maybe my donor is my clone! I hope I didnt jinx anything by speaking like this. There is still a long road ahead where GVHD is concerned. But next Friday will be day +30, a milestone to celebrate.

Being at home is proving to be easier for my family, less travel and hanging out in the hosp room. Cathie puts together all my pills twice a day. There is a pill for everything, some huge, some tiny, some shiny, some dull. But they all serve to let me continue my recovery at home instead of in the hospital continuously hooked up to the chemo tree and pumps. Cathie helps be in countless ways every day, even the days she goes off to work or works here. She is bringing my smile back. My Dad suffered the loss of his only sister, Peg, today. She was 85 years young and her kidney gave out. She passed on at her home in East Hartford Conn. I had last visited here there with my Dad in the summer of 2000. She will be missed. Dad is taking the loss stoically like he has through so many adversities in his life.

Lastly, I'd like to show you 'Inspiration Wall' at my old hospital room. This wall is in front of my bed. The drawings on the left side were done by a class of 6th graders at PQ Lutheran Church. Very artistic group! On the right side are all of the cards we had received up until last weekend. This wall helped me keep going! You should be able to click on a picture to see a larger size.

Thank You all for your support and inspiration!


Anonymous said...

What WONDERFUL news!!!! This is amazing. You are such a survivor. You give me inspiration! My dad will be starting his journey with Vidaza on Monday. Yikes. But you give me strength!!!! You are doing amazing. You are my hero.

K & L said...

Yahoo! This is the good news we've been hoping for. You must all be sooooo relieved. We are very happy for you, and we pray for your continued return to strenghth and good health. Thank you, Donor, who ever you are.
Katy & Larry

Anonymous said...

Jim... This is so great!! I love hearing this good news, you look great in you pic. I love the pic of your red blood cell just how I had pictured it, lol. I love that you are doing better!! I will keep praying that it stays on this path! LOVE YOU

Duane said...

So glad to see you're home and doing well, Jim. And that's great there's no GVHD yet. You're doing well. Keep it up and please keep us posted.

Mike B said...

I am so happy for you that that the good news keeps getting better. Rest up. My thought and prayers are with you.

Mike B

David and Cassandra said...

Hi Jim,

Everything seems to be going great. I am glad to hear your home and able to keep up the recovery process, let alone have so many positive out comes. We are all so proud of you and thankful that someone is watching over you. I was just curious if you received David and my card? I didn't see it on the wall. I guess that million dollar check caught someones eye. :) Can't wait to hear more good news.

Cassie and David

SoftwareEngineer said...

Thanks for the update!
Your news is very exciting. And thanks for the microscopic medical photo - I love blood!
We're in your corner,