Thursday, January 05, 2006

overlord postponed


Yesterday was supposed to be my D-Day, my Operation Overlord, my June 6, 1944. In the days leading up to yesterday, I thought about Eisenhower's inspiring address to the American soldiers who were poised to land gallantly on the Normandy beaches of Fortress Europe:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Of course, I'm not fighting fascists but cancer. Interestingly, substitute Eisenhower's mention of Nazises in his speech for Hodgkin's Disease, "the eyes of the world" for the visitors to my blog, "brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts" for cancer patients and survivors, "1940-1941" for 2003-2004, "1944" for 2006, "Home Fronts" for my family and friends, "United Nations" for my team of doctors and I think the speech begins to look as if it had been written specifically for me. My D-Day is a not a fight to liberate conquered territory, but rather a weakened body.

I was scheduled to be admitted to the hospital yesterday for the start of the high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant but the bacterial infection that I'm being treated for now postponed our plans.

My catheter was removed yesterday at the hospital and sent to the lab for analysis. The removal of the catheter wasn't bad at all. Actually, it was quite simple. The only pain was the brief sharp sting produced by the localized anesthesia. The doctor joked that the paperwork took more time to do than the actual catheter removal. Afterwards I met my doctor's assistant and she updated us on the process. The bacteria is Straphylococcus Lugdunensis, which is an aggressive type of bacteria I was told. Consequently, it wouldn't be safe to use the stem cells that were collected last week since they're contaminated with this virulent strain. More stem cells must be collected. The plan is for me to continue taking antibiotics. I'm off the vancomycin and beginning this morning, I started taking linzolid for 7 days, twice a day. Unlike the vancomycin, this new antibiotic was prescribed in pill form. It wasn't an easy, straightforward process, however, to arrive at this point. During the last two days, a lot of clawing and wrestling between the hospital and my insurance carriers had taken place. Medicaid, my secondary insurance, refused to pay for the antibiotics at first which I was told cost a couple of thousand dollars. The insurance would rather pay for me be admitted to the hospital for about 3 days of IV antibiotic treatment than for me to stay home, where I could take the medication. The drama never seems to stop, but I laugh despite moments of frustration. I continue to laugh and take this all in good stride. All one can do is laugh sometimes.

Because my stem cells must be recollected, I must receive the Neupogen injections again. So, starting tonight I'll begin the Neupogen shots and I will continue to receive them for about 5 days. Monday will be day 1 of the stem cell harvesting. It's very possible that I will not need to have my stem cells harvested for more than 2 days, since I did so well the last time. My body produced an ample amount of stem cells before. Maybe it will do the same again.

The difference this time will be the fact that I don't have the catheter anymore. They'll collect the stem cells via an IV in my vein. At some point before I'm admitted to the hospital for the high-dose chemotherapy and transplant, a new line will be inserted into my body. It might be another type of catheter, though smaller, or it could be a port.

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