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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day +277 No Highs or Lows, ALTBUN CLAST KALB, Gulp

Referring to one of my two blood test on Sept 24, there are no highs and no lows!
For the first time in almost 3 years, all CMP numbers are in the normal range! The test is called a 'comprehensive metabolic panel' or CMP. It reveals whether some organs are under stress, functioning properly. Typical components of the test are abbreviated BUN, ALT, AST and the like.
Dr. Andrey was so happy with the results he reduced my prescribed meds down to 2 from 4. That is now only 1 gulp per night for me. I'm now down to the lowest dose of Tacrolimus possible. This is further confirmation that my immune system has been trained enough to allow a resumption of normal activities outside the home.
This appointment was different than others for more reasons. First of all the Rancho Bernardo Scripps Clinic moved to a brand spanking new building across the street. The prior location of the oncology unit was in the basement of the old building. It was dark, small, and kind of cluttered. The new onco unit is on the 2nd floor of the 5 story building across from Costco. The unit is graced with large windows on 2 sides. It is bright, cheerful, and large. Parking, which was always a problem across the street, is now a breeze due to the 4 story parking structure. Before Dr. Andrey entered my examination room Thursday, I was reading my blood report and getting choked up. A quick scan of the report column between the component values and the normal ranges came up... blank! This is the column that, over the last 3 years, has frequently displayed 1 of 2 single letters, an H or an L. Some of my letters were normally H, for 'high'. Over the last few months, as my kidney and liver functions have been recovering, the level of enzymes indicative of organ stress, have steadily dropped. Now they are normal. As a consequence of my good numbers, Dr. Andrey, for the first time, did not do the usual poking around in my mouth and belly looking for various inflammations. It's been a long road. I feel a debt of gratitude to everyone who has enabled my arrival at this milestone.
Of course, the great doctors, nurses were instrumental for their medical skills. Deserving credit are all the patients who have walked this road previously and provided the data needed to fine tune the transplant process. Many did not make it to my point, but their experiences have been analyzed and all the lessons learned from past failures have been put to good use in giving others a better chance. The stem cell transplant treatment is still considered a clinical trial. On the papers I signed last year, my 'lead investigator' was Dr. Andrey. In January, I voluntarily participated in a clinical trial for a post-transplant drug. That drug, Maribavir, may become part of the normal protocol for post-transplant treatments. It worked well for me although I still dont know if I got the placebo.
I applied and was selected to participate in a study being conducted by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, 'Sharing our Strength, Life's Journey After Transplant'. This is a study that, I think, will attempt to quantitatively link transplant success with psychological factors. The study will also test treatment methods devised to increase transplant success rates. After the first couple phone interviews, my role in the study will be in the form of 4 writing exercises over a 1 month period. I'm not exactly an impartial study participant. I feel that my recovery success, to date, has largely been a result of the support from my family, including all of you, my blog family and friends. A particularly sensitive time for me was the first 4 weeks of the process. Your support was overwhelming and made *the* difference. My chemo brain was playing strange tricks and it was all of you who pulled me back from the abyss.


Anonymous said...

I know I talked to you about this on the phone, but I am still so happy!! What a great thing to hear about! We love you so much and hope to see you soon!!

David and Cassandra said...


It is such a great feeling hearing all the wonderful news. If you didn't know yet, which I am sure you did with Cathie and mom talking David and I are back in Cali. Living in Lakewood. We still have a couple sea world passes to use yet and we would love to visit you guys in the near future. Davids work schedual is hetic, but I guess that is good considering the world right now. Can't wait to see you and hope everything else is going great. Give the family our love.

Cassie, David and Sam

Duane said...

Excellent news, Jim! I'm so glad to see you rocking forward. You're amazing. It must be great to be taking a lot less meds. I hope to get at that point soon. ;)

Stay in touch, bro.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim, That is great news and even greater test results. We are so happy and relieved for all of you. Keep the good news coming.
K & L

jssvmj said...

Hi glad to see you in Church on Sunday, we have been praising God for His hand in your recovery. You and Kathie looked so happy laughing and holding hands as you left, what a reward for such a long journey. Take care friend.

Shannon and John

Anonymous said...

It's so refreshing to come to your blog to know you are doing so well. Many friends who are affected by mds or other bone marrow failures havent been doing so well but you give others hope. May God continue to bless your road to recovery. Shalom.

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