Monday, March 10, 2008

some doors are still closed, but many more are opening

This morning Clare accompanied me to my follow-up appointment with Dr. Castro-Malaspina. To my surprise, several doors were reopened by the end of the appointment.

Blood test results showed robust counts: WBC = 4.8; HGB = 14.9; and platelets = 324. More importantly, the results of my recent bone marrow biopsy continue to show 100% donor engraftment and no evidence of lymphoma. With regards to the strength of my immunity, he told me it was almost close to normal which I find amazing. Honestly, I know what I heard he tell me, but I'm having a difficult time getting over the possibility that at just a little less than seven months post-transplant, this newly adopted immune system of mine is developing so quickly and well. But this wasn't the only shocker. Like I said above, a good number of doors were reopened.

Though he didn't give a specific date or timeline, he brought up the topic of reimmunization. This admission in particular surprised me, because I thought that this didn't happen until after the first year generally.

Sirolimus, one of the two anti-GVHD drugs, that I've been taking faithfully every day since transplantation was discontinued. I no longer need to take it. It stopped just like that. Huh? How amazing is that!

He went on to tell me that I no longer need to wear a surgical mask in public. Hand washing, he said, is the important element. I am allowed (with caution) to meet up with a friend at a cafe or eat at a restaurant. I can also eat take-out food. Eat out? How novel is that!

He encouraged me to get out more, especially now that warmer weather is expected. I must admit that in recent weeks I've been in a bit of funk. Other than going outside to photograph, I haven't been going out that much recently. Though I think I've probably been more active than most people 6 months post-transplant, since I'm restricted to where I can go and interact staying home is a natural default for me (especially during some of these cold, uninviting winter days on top of the backdrop of so many nasty flu infections going on).

I haven't been exercising regularly like I had been doing two months earlier and so subsequently, I've gained a few pounds. I talked to Dr. Levine about this feeling of stagnation at our appointment last week and I promised myself to try to spend a bit less time in front of my laptop and TV.

The top most part of my fingernails are brittle and malleable, which Alli attributed to the chemotherapy but she went on to say that they should strengthen with time. In addition, the stubborn rashes on my chest, shoulders, and back remain but otherwise, all continues to look promising at this point. I had meant to ask Dr. Castro-Malaspina about when the next PET scan may be, but as Clare pointed out to me afterwards everything that he told me at the appointment was a vote of confidence that all is going as well as one could ever have hoped for and therefore, I shouldn't worry about a scan when all signs up to this point have been so good. Naturally, therefore, when I brought up the pressure-like feeling in my abdomen and chest, Alli speculated it's probably nothing. Take a moment and just breathe, she instructed me, the next time I have such a feeling.

At the end of the appointment, I managed to ask him about the possibility of taking a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, which many of you know has been a long time dream of mine, in late May or early June. In response, he thought that would be very possible.

So, all in all I received a very good report this morning. Some doors are still closed, but many more are opening.


Comment Blogger Michelle J said...

DUANE, this is the best news ever!! Does this actually mean we (you and me) can at some point, meet for a coffee or even possibly lunch somewhere cool? I am so psyched for you dude! I say all doors are opening, maybe some slower than others but i can just picture a row of doors opening one by one as you walk by them! :O) So, let me know.....

7:48 PM  
Comment Blogger Mary said...

Wow, that's a lot of change at once. It's pretty great - congratulations!


8:31 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Sounds like a plan, Michelle! :) I'll email you.

11:21 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Yeah, it is a lot at once. A deluge, it felt like. :) But it's good. Just thing we hope to hear.

11:22 PM  
Comment Blogger Jessie O said...


Rock on! That is awesome. Enjoy your social time... I'm planning on a celebratory trip to Yellowstone in late September!


5:19 AM  
Comment Blogger EbzOne said...

That is great news Duane.

12:21 PM  
Comment Blogger Jim Anderson said...

Great news. Time to rejoin life!

2:15 PM  
Comment Blogger One Mother with Cancer said...

That's wonderful... I'm so happy for you.

1:53 PM  
Comment Blogger Veronica said...

Duane - wow! What a lot to take on really are a machine, Duane - you've exceeded all expectations - inspirational!

Looking like Boston is going to be a REAL possibility too!!

Congratulations on all your positive news - enjoy being mask-free!!!.........xx

5:04 PM  
Comment Blogger The Reeds said...

Awesome news!! I know you will not miss the mask! Have fun! We'll keep praying for the good news to continue:)

5:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home