Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day +78 - Feeling great!

I feel great today, in fact I've felt great since Monday. I think it helps that I don't have any of those annoying symptoms I've been dealing with for the last month plaguing me at the moment. I feel like a normal person for a change.

Yesterday I had my MUGA and DEXA tests and a clinic visit with my transplant team. I was originally scheduled to have the MUGA test first, which is where radioactive markers are injected into your blood so that they can test how well the chambers in the heart are functioning. But the technician running the DEXA tests said, "Wait a minute, I can't have Steve radioactive for my test!", so we did the DEXA test first. The DEXA test is basically a set of x-rays to measure my bone mineral density. It's done to see how much bone loss I've had since the transplant. I've never had a baseline test, but the technician said they have enough data on what the bone mass should be for a typical patient my age that they don't need baseline tests anymore. After that was done I headed over to the infusion room for my MUGA test. This involves a blood draw, then a half-hour wait while radioactive markers are mixed in with my drawn blood. I went down for some coffee and yogurt while they mixed the blood. After half an hour, they called me back and re-injected the radioactive blood back into me. It was a little surreal, since they use a special lead-lined syringe containing the radioactive blood. It looks like something out of a movie. Thank god for my central catheter, since last time I had a MUGA test it was right after I had a bunch of chemotherapy, and we spent most of the time searching for a vein that wasn't collapsed. It was Christmas eve and I remember it being sort of an awful experience. The Hickman catheter makes all these blood draws and infusions a breeze. Then it was off to a separate room while they ran a special x-ray plate over my chest to measure the blood flow through my heart and arteries. On the monitor I could see real-time images of the blood flow, so that was pretty cool. The recording took about 15 minutes and then it was done. I ended up taking a short nap during the procedure since the pillow and blankets were pretty comfortable.

After that was my weekly clinic visit, for which I got a gold star since there really wasn't anything wrong with me. We talked about my recent visit to the hospital, the skin GVHD which is almost non-existent now, thanks to the PUVA suntan treatments we think, and spent the rest of the time joking around with the doctor and nurses about various things. Each month they rotate the doctor in charge of my transplant team, and this month it's Dr. Doney, a doctor I saw about 4 months ago just before I went in for the transplant. She's very sarcastic and funny, and I can't remember everything we horsed around about, but I left in a good mood. My counts look solid (I've updated the charts in the right-hand column), and we left discussing my transition back to Dr. Goldberg and my long-term care.

Today I'm back at the clinic for an appointment called "Medical Photography", which is where you basically strip down to your boxers and have pictures taken of you for documentation. They took pictures of my hands, legs, feet, chest, head, etc. I thought this was pretty cool, since it gives the clinic a record of my physical condition. A year from now, they'll take another set of pictures for comparison.

Right now I'm in the waiting room on the 6th floor of the SCCA, looking out over Lake Union, waiting to see the clinic dentist to see how well my teeth and gums have fared since the transplant, and then I'm done for the day! The weather is looking great so I might see about taking the scooters out for another spin this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'm free, then I have another bone marrow biopsy on Friday. Each week, one of the vials of blood drawn from me is used to check whether my blood type has changed from O+ to A+, since the donor is A+. As far as I know it hasn't changed yet, since the lifetime of red blood cells is about 6 months which means I still have a bunch of my old red blood cells running around my body. But the samples from the bone marrow biopsy on Friday will be used for a chimerism test, which will give us an accurate measure of exactly what percentage of blood components are host cells versus donor cells. I'm excited and anxious to see what it shows.

Things are looking good! Keep your fingers crossed that the good news continues.


Trevor said...

Hey Steve, just wanted to make sure they're doing the right tests to check for little girly white blood cells. You know, I thought of something: is it possible you were watching "Twilight" the other night because you had a female donor? Was that the first sign??? Just remember my offer about the guy activities (Larry the Cable Guy, arm wrestling, chicken wings, etc ...)

Steve Rider said...

@Trevor - Ha ha very funny :)

Beth said...

We'll keep fingers and toes crossed - eyes, too. Great news! Looking forward to seeing your folks this week and next. Thanks for sharing them :)
Beth & Jeff

Bob and Jan said...

We also thank you for sharing your folks with us here in Albuquerque occasionally! Aren't your mom and dad just about the coolest people around? We can see that you get a lot of your strength from them and we're so glad you have them near. Things are definitely looking up for you. Keep up the good work.
Bob and Jan Wilson