Sunday, July 22, 2007


As of this morning, I'm done with Round One of my Velcade infusions. This has been accompanied by light Dexamethasone dosing. The Velcade stops for a couple of weeks, but the Dex continues.

On August 6th I have an appointment to get new blood tests. Then on the 8th I meet with my new oncologist. We'll be discussing some new health status information that's recently reared its ugly head.

I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Obviously not much is going on medically right now. I'm sorta playing the waiting game. Here's an update on the minutiae of my treatment.

I'm doing Velcade by infusion twice a week. I'm also doing 40 mg of Dexamethasone orally once a week. The Velcade is infused thru the catheter over a period of 3 seconds.... obviously not a long infusion. It's effect on me is minimal. It can reportedly cause nausea and some peripheral neuropathy, but none of that has happened yet. The Dex is 1/4 of my prior dose, so the side effects are greatly reduced.

I'm having shoulder pain pretty regularly and I'm retaining a lot of fluids. They're not major issues.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Angry / depressed.

I went to see my new oncologist today. Based on the actions of my previous oncologist, it's been STRONGLY recommended that I not harvest stem cells yet.

Basically, that means two more months of chemo and a review of my situation.

I'm angry at my previous oncologist, but I trust the new guy because his thoughts are exactly in line with what Ed was starting to observe in my blood counts.

The setback has me more depressed than anything..... I'm not a happy camper. Back on psycho drugs again, just as I was starting to feel human again.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Apheresis Catheter

Yesterday at 1 pm I showed up at the medical facility for this month's adventure. It was an apheresis catheter (sometimes spelled aphoresis catheter).

Here's the deal. There is a need to move lots and lots of fluids in and out of my blood stream. Standard I.V. rigs wouldn't handle the volumes in a reasonable amount of time, so they insert venous catheters into people to solve the problem.

Part one was the prep. It consisted primarily of an infusion of saline and an antibiotic to help prevent infection. My nurse was an absolute dingbat.... forgetting things, dropping things, tripping over things. Eventually she got the antibiotics and hung them on the infusion rig.

At 2:10 they came to transport me into surgery. That's when we discovered she never opened the clamp on the antibiotics. Apparently the patient has to double check everything everyone does.

So they put me on the table (actually an angiography machine) and started draping the surgical area. Nope, no lookie-loos for me.

They made an incision in my right internal jugular vein (in my neck just above the collar bone). They inserted a tube (catheter) down the jugular to a point near my heart. Then they "tunneled" (actually just crammed) the remaining part of the catheter under the skin of my chest to a point about 2-3 inches above my right nipple. At this point, they created an exit site where the catheter comes out of my chest. To this, they attached a two headed hydra looking thing that allows fluids to enter and exit on demand.

Figuratively speaking, I have a bung and a tap now. Need blood? Sure, step right up to my nipple here........

Well heck, I guess I have four nipples now. Step up to the plastic ones.....

Were there any problems beside the antibiotic one? SURE! How would it be possible to have a procedure done without problems?!?!

See, when they put in the catheter, they discovered it was too long and it started giving me PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions). Basically, it was causing an irregular heart beat. This was not a good thing.

So with the danglies dangling, they called the chief of oncology to ask permission to change catheter type and length. He eventually consented and the procedure moved forward.

Did I mention I was awake for this whole thing? Can you say OUCHIES ?!?!

Ok, so it's in. Now I have a paper shopping bag full of supplies to clean it and dress it and put make-up on it. I'm kidding. I don't actually put make-up on it, but I do get to clear the lines with Heparin every day.

The whole site was pretty swollen last night. It hurt to turn my head and it feels very weird to lift my arms.... the plastic tube just isn't as flexible as my body is..... There's an odd pulling/stretching/kinking feeling when I move. Sleep is pretty shallow at this point.

Oh, so what did we do afterward? We went to the movies to see Transformers. Two Tylenol work wonders.

Here's a pic. Click it to make it larger if you want.