First off, everything looks good. Marrow has 50 percent cellularity, 5 plasma cells, 2 percent core plasma cells and is negative for Myeloma. Also, my hip doesn’t hurt all that much so the new bone marrower must have done a good job!
I got to the clinic early today. I had a 12:45 appointment with BB and, keeping in mind that last time I got to the clinic early and got seen pretty quickly, attempted the same. I got there at 10:30 or so. Sure enough, I met with the research nurse pretty quickly. Hard to believe I am heading into my 17th month of maintenance already.
Then things slowed down. Waited in the clinic for about an hour, then got put in a room. I read my labs…the MRI, unfortunately, did not indicate any shrinking of the four remaining focal lesions. They were stable, but did not resolve. My blood work came back negative for M protein under SPEP, but there was not yet a result from Immunofixation which is the more sensitive measure.
I observed on the MRI various characterizations — hypointensive marrow, hyperintensive marrow, isointensive marrow, homogenous marrow, heterogenous marrow, etc. I tried to discern any differences between the previous scan and this one but I lacked the knowledge to figure it out.
I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. I had a flight to catch and wanted to leave by 3PM and it was starting to look dicey. At around 1:45 the clinician, a terrific physician’s assistant named JA, arrived. He called and got the bone marrow results, which was a relief. He explained that what we are looking for is homogenous marrow, as opposed to heterogeneous marrow, as the latter implies patchiness. So in this context these descriptors do not refer to the cellular content of the marrow but rather the evenness of its distribution through the body.
The other vector — hypo- hyper- or iso-intensivity — is a little more complicated. MRIs (at least the ones done here) use two types of images: T1-weighted and STIR. I have no idea what these distinctions mean, but JA explained that T1-weighted images focus on the liquid in one’s body which makes the readings of marrow hyper intensive. So the ones to look at are the STIR images, and the best reading is evidently isointensive (which means the same all over).
For what it’s worth, I am mildly hyperintensive. Sadly I learned what all this meant after I turned the file over to JA but next time I will see what I used to be and how it has changed. All of this is subjective and up to the tech that interprets the MRI, so one’s mileage may vary. I was told by JA that BB would not react to any of that data, although he reminded me that “sometimes BB sees things in the data that the rest of us do not see.”
It was now 2:15 and I reiterated that I had to get on a plane at some point soon…my original appointment time with BB was 12:45. JA said that BB was almost back on schedule and I should be able to get out of there by 3PM, which would be perfect.
Then I sat down with the man himself.