Thursday, November 30, 2006

I need therapy

I started therapy. Well, physical therapy. I've had tension headaches off and on for years. I finally asked my "regular" doctor (that would be my non-blood, non-cancer doctor) what I could do about them, and she sent me to a physical therapist who specializes in headaches. Today was my first appointment. I had to fill out one of those forms that says, "Have you ever been diagnosed with (long list of horrible diseases)" and for the first time ever, I had to circle "Yes" on the cancer spot. That was fun. It's like I simply can't get enough of all of this medical stuff. If I'm not going to them, they're coming to me: When I got home from the appointment, there was a message on the machine from my old bone-marrow-transplant case worker, who I haven't heard from in months, checking to make sure I was still alive, I guess.

Anyway, the therapist and I were chatting about WCB, and I told her that she doesn't walk yet. Remember those steps I got so excited about a few weeks ago? Yeah, she only takes, like, two a day, and then decides she's done. I still don't count it as walking.

"Oh, I once had a patient who didn't walk until 19 months," said the therapist. "Then, when she was an adult, she got these terrible migraine headaches. It turns out .... SHE WAS MISSING A PART OF HER BRAIN."

"A PART OF HER BRAIN?" I said.

"Yes," said the therapist. "A part of her brain. And her only symptom was late walking."

Great. As if I wasn't tense enough. Pretty soon I'll have to start non-physical therapy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanks, Lenny!

Here's some news from the myeloma world that I'm a little late in posting. I would have blogged it earlier, but I was out of town most of last week eating my own weight in pumpkin pie. My brother-in-law cooked the turkey outside on the grill; it was excellent. Now I waddle everywhere I go.

Anyway, I learned this great fact last week from Beth's Myeloma Blog: Actor Michael McKean, also known as one of the members of Spinal Tap, the evil neighbor in The Brady Bunch Movie, and Lenny from Laverne and Shirley ...



... won Celebrity Jeopardy and split his winnings between the International Myeloma Foundation and another charity. This means the IMF got $25,000 from Lenny! Woo hoo! According to some other bloggers, he swept the category on -- heh -- Stonehenge. (Remember? From Spinal Tap? Oh, never mind.) But I think the very best part of this story is that he beat the U.S. Secretary of Education. Heh.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Be aware o' that marrow

I found out today from Amanda's blog that November is Marrow Awareness Month. I think it's pretty sad that it's nearly the end of November and even I had no idea this was going on, considering I'm much more aware of marrow on a daily basis than the average person. How does marrow slip under the radar? I'm sure that none of us missed the fact that last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, you could even get pink cupcakes from the Hy-Vee bakery to mark the occasion. I'm not trying to knock the breast cancer people; on the contrary, they have excellent awareness-raising skills. I think all of us marrow folks need to pull it together and spread the word. Maybe next November, we'll all be feasting on tasty marrow cupcakes. Mmmm .... marrow cupcakes.

Seriously, though, I invite all of you to take just a minute and learn a little more about joining the National Marrow Donor Program. It's a little more involved than donating, say, blood, but it is a lot less involved than donating, say, a kidney. You could save somebody. Maybe you could wind up saving me. Maybe you could be the one to ensure that everyone can continue to read this blog until I am 102 years old and die of a heart attack when someone -- probably my 72-year-old child -- finally convinces me to ride Space Mountain at Disneyland.

Wait, I can't die then. If I finally do ride Space Mountain, I need to live to blog about that. Make it 103 and a giant meteor falling on my assisted-living facility while I'm playing Scrabble.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Gloatin' about the 'globin

WCB had her 18-month checkup today. Everything is going well; the doctor was excited to hear about the step-taking, although she did remind me that most 18-month-olds can run. I figure I'm 31 years old and I hardly ever run, so it can't be that big of a deal.

She also asked how much TV WCB watches every day.

"Um," I said. "Sesame Street."

"Oh, that's not very much," said the doctor, pleased, and she moved on to other things. I'd neglected to mention that I've also memorized the theme song to Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly Winks and that I am dangerously close to developing a crush on Mr. Rogers. I certainly didn't tell her that once I lay awake at night, trying to decide if Sesame Street's Bob and Allen -- Allen's the guy who runs Hooper's Store now -- are having an affair. And if they are having an affair, isn't Bob a little old for Allen? Or does Allen see past the age difference because Bob is an excellent singer, is kind to Muppets, and knows how to knit? Remember when Gina adopted Baby Marco from Guatemala, and Bob knitted her a blanket? It matched his sweater, which he also knitted. Anyway, I imagine them double-dating with Bert and Ernie.

Maybe I need to get out more.

But the high point of the appointment is when WCB had to have her hemoglobin -- that's her iron level -- tested. It's a routine test for all babies her age, and it involved blood taken from a heel stick. The doctor went over the test with me, and explained that if the result was low, we would have to go to a lab for yet another test, which would involve an actual blood draw from a vein, and it could lead to more tests to figure out why the blood counts were low, etc. etc. I figured that of course it was going to be low. Blood never does what I want it to do. Plus, I can't seem to get enough extra doctor appointments and blood tests into my life. Bring it on, I thought.

The nurse came in and told me that most babies have no problem with the heel stick -- that it looks a lot worse than it actually is. Heh, I thought; this nurse has never met WCB. (Official motto: "Why react when you can overreact?") When I told Jay the story later, he said, "Didn't you tell the nurse that WCB screams at the sight of ladybugs?"

Anyway, one heel stick, two Daffy Duck Band-Aids, and a whole lot of screaming later, we had a hemoglobin number: 13.2. That is EXCELLENT! I wish my hemoglobin was 13.2. I could not believe the pride I felt at that number, and also a teeny bit of jealousy. 13.2. A little over a year ago, I would have forgotten the number by now, if I'd even bothered to really pay attention in the first place. "Oh," I'd say to Jay later in the day, "they did some kind of a blood test and said it was OK." Now, of course, I am completely obsessed with blood numbers. I almost want to make a scrapbook page about it. My daughter has perfect blood.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ignore that drunken spike

I'm still awaiting Official Word from Dr. Hayman at the Mayo Clinic, but I was able to talk to her nurse. They did get the fax with my test results, and the nurse didn't seem to think that Dr. H would be overly concerned with my M-spike going up -- well, at least in the short-term -- because everything else is normal. The nurse pointed out that my IGG protein even went down a little bit. Do any of you myeloma people out there know how your IGG can go down and your M-spike can go up at the same time? If so, let me know.

Anyway, I finally got the results in the mail from the Cancer Center and I was able to go through every number in my usual anal-retentive way. The nurse is right: Everything else that's not protein-related is perfect. It's like there's a party in my blood, and everyone's invited. All those cells were in there having a good time when my M-spike showed up uninvited and drunk, hit on all the other cells' girlfriends, and then started throwing up in the potted plants. So far, all of the other cells are completely ignoring him. Keep it up, cells. None of you had better start listening to his drunken rants or letting him spike (ha!) the punch. Red blood cells, I'm talking specifically to you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

That's one small step for WCB ...

SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S TAKING STEPS!!!!!
SHE'S!!!!!
TAKING!!!!!
STEPS!!!!!

That's all. You can go back to what you were doing now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The biggest, fattest M-spike in all the world

I just talked to the nurse. My M-spike is up to 4.6. It was 4.2 on August 30. This isn't a good thing. Maybe Dr. GPO didn't spit out his coffee, but it had to have dribbled out of the side of his mouth just a little bit.

Fortunately, the nurse said that all of my non-protein numbers are normal. My hemoglobin is starting to go back up (That's good). I'm getting the full set of results sent to me in the mail, so I'll have more details on everything in a couple of days. In the meantime, the Cancer Center is faxing the results to Mayo. We'll see if Dr. Hayman spits out her coffee or not.

Deep breath.

No news is ... not horrible news?

I still don't have my results, but now I am operating under the theory that the longer they take to get back to me, the less horrible the results have to be. Last December, when I got some "bad" numbers, I got a call from the doctor himself less than 24 hours after I had the blood drawn. This is never a good thing. You don't want test results that make your doctor spit out his/her coffee and sprint to the phone. You want results that are so boring that they're set aside and left for somebody else to call you later, once all of the coffee-spit stains from the other, sicker patients are all cleaned up.

Anyway. I just left a message. I was told a nurse would call me. I think I'll go lie down in front of the Tivo.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Back from Oz

We went to see Dr. Great and Powerful Oz yesterday morning. My parents were here to watch WCB, so Jay got to come with me.

The Cancer Center just moved to a brand new facility, which is much, much, much nicer and bigger than the old one. It just opened yesterday, and I had the distinction of being the first patient that Dr. GPO saw at the new place. I hope that's a good omen. He gave us his usual 10-minute pep talk about how I'm never going to die, I gave three vials of blood to the lab people, and then I went in search of a flu shot. They were implementing a bunch of new procedures at the new building, so nobody was sure where to put me or which forms I needed to give to whom in order to get my shot. I finally ended up waiting around in the chemo room, in one of those big chemo easy chairs.

Those chairs seem pretty comfy, but they're probably not when you're getting chemo for five hours. That's what was going on with the guy sitting next to me, who was eating a can of peanuts and peacefully working his crossword puzzle while the nurse hooked him up. I guess I can't really complain about my own situation, when all I needed was a shot. As promised, I did not have to bring home a Pee Pod. Woo hoo! Jay and I stopped at Hy-Vee and brought home doughnuts instead. Much more appealing than the contents of a Pee Pod.

The results are supposed to be back tomorrow, but I think that is doctor language for "two weeks from now." We'll see.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's that time again

Tomorrow morning I go back to Dr. Great and Powerful Oz for my two-month blood test. I still feel fine, so I'm hoping those Godcellas aren't messing around. Wish me luck.

Despite the fact that it is blood-test time, which is never a fun time, there are still things to get excited about. Just now I was at Wal-Mart, and they were giving away free samples of bottled Ben and Jerry's milkshakes. That's right: Now Ben and Jerry's comes in liquid form, so you can ingest much, much more of it at an even faster rate. Woo hoo! I had some fabulous chocolate flavor; I wondered how often I could keep going back to the free-sample table before the sample woman got suspicious. Maybe I could put on a disguise. I'm picturing a fake moustache and an affected British accent. It could work.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Got milk? Heck, no.

WCB has two big issues that arise out of her extreme stubbornness: One is her refusal to walk, and the other is her refusal to drink milk out of a cup.

She would drink milk nonstop out of a bottle -- back when she was still getting a bottle, that is. She will drink water nonstop out of cup. She just will not drink milk out of a cup. If I put a milk-filled cup on her tray, she says, "No! No!", turns the cup upside down and begins shaking the milk onto the floor.

A friend suggested that I try some fancy "smoothie" drinks. I was excited to find some Yo Baby yogurt drinks in the organic section at Hy-Vee. WCB loves Yo Baby yogurt more than anything in the world. If a container of Yo Baby and I were trapped in a burning building and WCB could only save one of us, she would rush inside to save the Yo Baby. Then she would eat it. Then she would look around for some more. And then she would call the fire department. These drinks are the same thing, only liquid. I had her now, I thought.

I put the yogurt drink in a cup, and ... WCB acted like I was trying to poison her. "No," she said, then, adding for clarity: "No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No." (Pause) "No."

She made herself turn red until the yogurt was removed from her tray, from her sight, from the universe.

Moments after I took her out of the high chair, far away from the expensive, organic, richly high-fat, tasty, fruit-flavored yogurt, I caught her eating a clump of dirt.

Maybe I should mix dirt in with her milk. Would that be wrong?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Christmas in November

First off, Halloween was great. WCB was the WCD -- World's Cutest Dorothy. I wish I could post photos of her here. Just imagine the cutest little girl in the world in the cutest Dorothy dress in the world and then magnify it times 100. That's what it looked like.

Yesterday, WCB and I had nothing to do, so I decided to take her to Barnes and Noble to see if they had any cute children's books about turkeys. I did find one ... but only after searching around for the teeny, tiny Thanksgiving book section that was hidden behind an enormous Christmas display. It was November 1, people! November 1!

Is it just Barnes and Noble that has gone mad? No, my friends. Later that day, I got into the car to drive to exercise class, and found that Kansas City's 24-Christmas music station has already started up. This is just wrong.

Don't you remember when you were a kid, and it seemed like it took FOREVER for Christmas to come? And this was back in the Olden Times (the '80s), when the Christmas season didn't start until at least the day after Thanksgiving. Don't you think starting Christmas on November 1 has to be absolutely agonizing for kids?

Won't somebody please think of the children?