Ice, Ice, Baby

My mom looks like a big, bald squirrel. Because of all the ice she is chewing (see picture), she looks like she’s hoarding a bunch of nuts in her cheeks haha. But she’s determined! Her cheeks are cool to the touch when you feel them so that’s good, now all we have to do is maintain consistency and be diligent! Other than that, today is a beautiful day. We have a million dollar view!


Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Bald.

Shaved the head yesterday….To say it was a little traumatizing would be a bit of an understatement.It takes a little bit of adjusting, but I think these things just take a little bit of time to get used to.Yesterday we packed all our clothes (like we were going on vacation or something!) and today we checked into our inpatient unit. It’s been a long, busy, and heavy day. Right now, mama is hooked up to the IV machine for hydration therapy and will be until about 6pm tomorrow (it is now 830pm). The reason for this is because TOMORROW, she will be receiving the MEGA dose of chemo (Melphalan) to clear out her body. Apparently it is a tiny “push”, but is potent enough to affect your taste buds for 6 months and give you mucositis. The half-life of melphalan is about 4 hours (?), so you want to get this out of your system A.S.A.P. (hence the hydration). So basically, mama bear will be forced to pee a LOT tomorrow. We do NOT want this chemo in her system. Get in, get out. She’ll also be chewing on ice before, during, and after the administration of Melphalan. The reason for this is because, normally, you get mouth-sores (so bad that you have trouble breathing). What doctors discovered, though, that something as simple as chewing ice was enough to completely eliminate this very serious side effect from happening at all! What the ice does is it constricts the blood vessels in the mucus membranes of your mouth. Significance? The more constricted the blood vessel, the harder it is for the Melphalan to get circulated through that area. THEREFORE, ICE=GOOD!
Other than that, her room is MASSIVE. Its enough for two patients, but because of the unique circumstances of this ward (zero immune system), you aren’t allowed to share your room with other people because of the risk of spreading germs, etc.
Tomorrow is a big day, will keep you updated.

We Pretend – by Susie Hemingway

Do we pretend dear one?
As judgements are made and disclosed
In fretful haze we nuzzle closer
To mirror the fears that we know
Do we pretend dear one?
As smiles and platitudes wither my heart
Perhaps we do, as we dream anew
Of positive days that will last.

We laugh as we follow regimes
But I’m frightened of this new terrain
Praying, dreaming and hoping
That this time there will be some gain.
Still in the consuming darkness
When sleep will just not come
I hear you fretful in slumber
Are we pretending dear one?

As in the yellowing dawn light
My heart pushes down the pain
I think of all the others fighting a similar game,
I think of how far we’ve all come
Such bravery that cuts through this bane
To push down this ‘Wicked Beast’,
And make positive steps to gain.

No! I don’t think we’re pretending
Not in the very least
I’m proud of my Warrior
Who struggles through, with steely belief
Proud of my friends who daily defend
Giving him cause to go on,
And yes of course I know we can make it
We’ve really no need to pretend,
We’ve really no need to pretend.

Plasmaphoresis

In March of 2007 I was at my monthly oncologist appt for routine labs. I had previously had creatinine levels in the 0.8-1.0 range. Looking back in my records my creatinine on January 2, 2007 was 0.9. January 30th it was 1.0. February 27th it was 1.5. March 30th it jumped to 4.0. At this last level my doctor advised me he was going to admit me to the hospital.

At this time I had been on Biaxin, Revlimid and Dexamethasone for three months with not a very dramatic response. I had also received Zometa recently and had been on Ibuprofen. While in the hospital I was diagnosed with Acute Renal Failure (ARF). I was put on i.v. fluids and my chemotherapy was changed to Velcade. I also had a kidney biopsy performed which revealed I had “myeloma kidney”. My doctors call was to have me receive plasmapheresis treatments.

I first had to have a catheter inserted near my collar bone. The catheter had two lumens. One took the protein out and the other replaced it with albumin (I think Beth, I’m not 100% sure). I had five treatments, two as a hospital patient and the other three as an out-patient. It was an amazing experience. I was connected to this fairly large machine that had buttons, dials and lights along with the tubes that were connected to my catheter. The process took between 60-90 minutes. They can adjust the speed of the machine and it was necessary to do this a little at a time.

The process was painless. I do remember I was chilly during the transfer. They warmed the albumin before it was introduced to my system. They did tell me I might experience tingly sensations around my mouth but I never did.

During the process you could read, watch tv, listen to tapes or sleep. The nurse was there with me during the total procedure.

Each day I had treatment they took my labs and my creatinine continued to improve.
In September I did a SCT and my creatinine is now at 1.9.