The Ritual

Pretty much on schedule, clumps of hair began showing up in the drain….so the ritual of the buzz cut was celebrated yesterday.  FYI:  For safety and aesthetics, it is best not to go down to shiny scalp at the outset.  I good “Elvis goes to Germany” military cut prevents things like sun screen and accidental infection.  And I must admit, I do like the fact that I can wake up in the morning, shake my head, and I’m good to go.
It’s been a tough few days.  Tuesday was particularly rough.  Following Sunday’s chemo infusions, my immunity levels dropped as intended…leaving me very weak.  With very few red blood cells to power me, I was dizzy.  I sported a grey pallor.  And my energy levels were pretty low.  I had a scheduled doctor visit and based on the results of my blood tests, they elected to transfuse some blood into me to bring me back to equilibrium.  It took a few hours, but it worked.  By the end of the transfusion, I had my normal pink glow and was able to manage my normal activities.  I’m a bit weaker today than I was right after the transfusion, but I’m getting around just fine.  I’m eating and sleeping very normally.  Pretty comfortable overall, although clearly it is cold up there when you don’t have a head of hair to warm you up.  But not to worry, I have a large cache of head coverings from the last go round.
Still quite a gauntlet of treatment on schedule.  I’m continuing the induction phase of the treatment, which is essentially the old school assault of classic chemo to search out and destroy all things that could be cancer cells in my bone marrow.  Healthy cells get swept up in this assault as well, hence my weakness.  I’m on a hiatus of a few days from the chemo right now. But I’ll be going in next week so they can evaluate when I’ll be strong enough to take on the second round.  If my immunity numbers are too low, they will wait a week or so before resuming.  If not, I’ll check back into Cedars for a few days of chemo.  Significantly, we are still waiting for the final results of my bone marrow biopsy which will contain info on my specific chromosomal makeup.  I’m not sure if I’m explaining this 100% accurately, but here is my best understanding….the pathologists are looking for specific genetic markers that define my specific form of leukemia.  If found, there are targeted therapies that can be applied to wipe it out completely.  If not, it is good to know that these markers are absent and other therapy approaches can be used.  So taking the results of the induction chemo that I’m undergoing right now, combined with the genetic information, my treatment should be a rifle shot to a cure as opposed to basically the same chemo treatment regimens that have been used for the past few decades.    

So, regrettably, I’m not close to the end of the treatment cycle and I will still have several hospitals stays and a lot of poison to absorb.  It won’t be much fun, but there is every reason to believe strongly that it will result in my getting back to my normal lifestyle in a few months or so.
Meanwhile….no major complaints.  My appetite is very good.  I’m sleeping through the night. I’m getting unbelievable support from people who check in on me, call and visit.  Susan has been a rock.  My medical care is top notch.  And I’ve got plenty of diversions.  So once again, thank you for all the good wishes and check ins.  Overall, please be assured I’m doing just fine.