Saturday, July 3, 2010
In-Patient Patience, Tube Tripping and Melphalan Chemo
Well I am cozily settled into my City of Hope residence dorm... I was so lucky that they allowed me chose my little piece of real estate! I am blessed with a lovely mountain view window looking east towards the mountains of ... I will have to look that up :)
Friday July 2 was a day of orientation and organization. Me and the fam went to lunch, and aptly named it the last supper :) We then lugged my luggage over to the Helford Hospital section and got me settled in and decorated a bit... and then I lost it emotionally........
I've met some lovely, sweet, talented, professional nurses and staff members that helped get me settled in and set me up with my new mobile buddy............my IV tower- who sports tons of liquid bags as hanging decorations! I am officially a Bag Lady now!!!! I am considering naming him Rex or Rx as he carries, holds and dispenses all my meds to me. For those of you who've been hooked up like this, you know the little silly and annoying challenges of being hooked up to this metal monster friend! I have almost tripped over the chord and base legs... almost unintentionally yanking out my plastic tubes connected to my Hickman Catheter installed between my.... boobs... as I am very challenged in the bathroom... if you're skirmish... stop reading here and go marvel at your own private home bathroom and commode! Sitting or squatting is a challenge especially for a germ-a-phob like me... trying to gather up my lounge pants so they don't drag on the floor or touch the toilet; then making sure all my tubage does not contact the commode and then I am required to "produce" into a measuring "hat" for every event I produce! eeekkk.... see this is why I have always found horse poop (in the lovely outdoors) so much more appealing than human biological events! Nicely shaped vegetarian "road apples" ; I'll happily gather those anytime!
I also dropped my brand new hospital issue toothbrush on the floor... what do you think I did with it???? Washed it well then considered using it.... then said.... HELLO NO!!! Tossed that out FAST!. On the way back to bed, Rex-Rx tripped me and landed me in bed sooner than anticipated and angled me in a way that presented new tubage untangling challenges! hahahaha everything I do now is hilarious! The small things have become big challenges, and the big things... like anticipating the 2nd dose of chemo tomorrow ... have become monolith cliff hangers !!!
So before the 11th hour today...the anticipated arrival time of Melphalan Chemo infusion... I DECIDED TO MAKE A BREAK FOR IT... Gathered up Rex-Rx and nonchalantly and casually headed out of my room (6111). I was asked to mask and glove up, and off I went to see my surroundings and options. Ssshhhheeeesssshhhh I'm a mouse in a never ending maze of halls and rooms... but surprizingly, I did find an athletic gym, a lovely sitting room with a view, and I met some lovely couples at various stages of the chemo and Stem Cell infusion process. Everyone was so positive and supportive and encouraging!!! Different diagnosis than mine, but all blood related cancers. Crazy all this cancer... But alas, SuperNurse Theresa came and found me for my first round of Mephalan:
But all in all I am doing ok on Stay Day #2, Chemo Day #1. I don't get much rest as my darling nurses are in and out several times a night checking on me and taking my vitals and vampire vials. Even tho I don't sleep much, I so appreciate their expert nursing knowledge and personal caring! Shifts change and I make new friends every 12 hours :) Everyone is so nice, friendly and helpful!
I also take RexRx for walks around the U shaped floor. They say 4 times around is a 1/2 mile. I'm feeling great and can't believe it... but I am realistic enough to know that my 2nd Melphalan bomb may explode with the holiday fireworks tomorrow, or sometime next week. I am certainly not thinking it will be this easy! But best not to jinx myself......................> o yikes... Melphalan round #2 tomorrow!!!
Love, thanks and deep appreciation for all your attention to my life and blog!!! love you all!!! :)
Helpful Myeloma Links
- American Cancer Society- Multiple Myeloma
- American Society of Hematology
- Ask Dr Durie
- Chemo Care- Drug definitions
- Health Monitor Magazine
- International Myeloma Foundation
- LLS- Myeloma
- MM resources
- Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
- Myeloma Beacon
- Myeloma Blogs
- Myeloma Crowd
- Myeloma Symptoms
- Patient Power
- Support Groups
- Understanding Multiple Myeloma
My Story... How my MM was diagnosed
My treatment trail ride forks to City of Hope hospital as I will saddle up beginning June 9, 2010 for a new rodeo called an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant!
My initial chemo regimen:
Pill form Chemo= Revlimid (10mg capsules)
Allopurinol- keeping the kidneys healthy
Acyclovir- anti-Shingles, anti-viral
High dose IV Cytoxan chemo
Neupogen to build up stem cells for Apheresis, stem cell harvest, which was very successful, as City of Hope was able to collect 9.5 million of my own stem cells
July 2010 Hospitalization:
Two days of high dose Melphalan chemo
Then July 5, 2010 = my Autologous Stem Cell transplant infusion!
And you can read my whole story from that point forward in this blog!
What is multiple myeloma?
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see What Is Cancer?
Multiple myeloma is a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system.
The immune system is made up of several types of cells that work together to fight infections and other diseases. Lymphocytes (lymph cells) are the main cell type of the immune system. The major types of lymphocytes are T cells and B cells.
When B cells respond to an infection, they mature and change into plasma cells. Plasma cells make the antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) that help the body attack and kill germs. Lymphocytes are in many areas of the body, such as lymph nodes, the bone marrow, the intestines, and the bloodstream. Plasma cells, however, are mainly found in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside some hollow bones. In addition to plasma cells, normal bone marrow has cells that make the different normal blood cells.
When plasma cells become cancerous and grow out of control, they can produce a tumor called a plasmacytoma. These tumors generally develop in a bone, but they are also rarely found in other tissues. If someone has only a single plasma cell tumor, the disease is called an isolated (or solitary) plasmacytoma. If someone has more than one plasmacytoma, they have multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is characterized by several features, including:
Low blood counts
In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. This can cause anemia – a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (called thrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. Another condition that can develop is leukopenia – a shortage of normal white blood cells. This can lead to problems fighting infections.
Bone and calcium problems
Myeloma cells also interfere with cells that help keep the bones strong. Bones are constantly being remade to keep them strong. Two major kinds of bone cells normally work together to keep bones healthy and strong. The cells that lay down new bone are called osteoblasts. The cells that break down old bone are called osteoclasts. Myeloma cells make a substance that tells the osteoclasts to speed up dissolving the bone. Since the osteoblasts do not get a signal to put down new bone, old bone is broken down without new bone to replace it. This makes the bones weak and they break easily. Fractured bones are a major problem in people with myeloma. This increase in bone break-down can also raise calcium levels in the blood. (Problems caused by high calcium levels are discussed in the section “How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?”)
Abnormal plasma cells do not protect the body from infections. As mentioned before, normal plasma cells produce antibodies that attack germs. For example, if you developed pneumonia, normal plasma cells would produce antibodies aimed at the specific bacteria that were causing the illness. These antibodies help the body attack and kill the bacteria. In multiple myeloma, the myeloma cells crowd out the normal plasma cells, so that antibodies to fight the infection can’t be made. The antibody made by the myeloma cells does not help fight infections. That’s because the myeloma cells are just many copies of the same plasma cell – all making copies of the same exact (or monoclonal) antibody.
The antibody made by myeloma cells can harm the kidneys. This can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure.