Saturday, January 27, 2007

Normalcy Continues

Oh, those dreaded IGG counts came in this week: IGG's are now at 1596, up from 1433. Still in the normal range, which tops out at about 1680. As I've said before, we certainly don't like the upward movement but it seems to be inevitable--at least according to Dr. Rifkin, who seems compelled at every visit to advise me, "you know it's going to come back". I continue to reject that in my mind, but it's hard to argue with as I watch the numbers going up. On a positive note, there are other indicators that Dr. Rifkin is watching which are improving. One in particular is the Kappa Lambda ratio of the light chains in the blood. Now, if anyone of you out there understands what that entails I would appreciate some enlightenment. I have tried to figure out what this ratio means but I just can't get it. Anyway, that ratio has been off since diagnosis and now is very close to normal. As with other visits, given that the IGGs are still normal, I know I have at least another month without treatment and probably two.

I also had my checkup with my urologist and everything continues to be fine on that front. PSA is 0.

My mediation practice is set to start this next month. I'll be working with a very experienced mediator here in town, Joe Epstein, and he is rapidly filling my calendar. As I only want to do 1 or 2 mediations a week, he has already filled my February calendar. I'm still struggling a bit with letting go of the identity of a trial lawyer, but am confident that once I fully extract myself from my law firm and start my new life as mediator it will be fine.

The family is doing well. Julia is applying to study abroad next year in South Africa, working with HIV/AIDS clinics there. South Africa certainly has its problems, not the least of which are crime, muggings, etc. But she is determined to work in a third world country and ultimately we left the decision to her. Catherine continues to love her job and is learning more and more about investing (but she still refuses to advise me about my retirement portfolio). Susan now has a job--working as my Chief Operating Officer in my mediation practice. In order to get the health insurance coverage I need, my business is required to employ 2 people. So she is in charge of the bookkeeping, billing, banking, scheduling, filing, etc. She seems happy to do it, but maybe that's only because she knows this business will get me out of the house and she is willing to do anything to see that happen!!

The two year anniversary of my MM diagnosis is just around the corner--March 24. It's hard to believe it's been two years and it's harder to remember what life was like before cancer. I remember when my sister was here in the fall of 2005 just after my transplant and she asked me if I ever had moments where I forgot about having cancer. Sadly, I responded no. I can now say I do have those moments, maybe even hours now where I am engaged in some activity and oblivious of the fact of my disease. I guess one could call that progress.

So, in closing, thanks to all of you who continue to hang in there for us, who silently check the blog, who call and write, and who pray. We know you're out there and we are thankful every day for the blessings that are our friends and family.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Those Troublesome Numbers--Rising But Still "Normal"

I managed to get through our snow-packed streets last week and saw Dr. Rifkin for my monthly checkup. Everything fine at the checkup, white count, hematocrit and platelets are all good. Returned yesterday to get 4 immunization shots due to the fact that my transplant wiped out most of my immunizations, like diphtheria, tetanus, Hepatitus. I also picked up my myeloma numbers: IGGs are at 1433, up from 1207 last month. Still in the "normal" range, but I personally don't like the drifting upward. That being said, the doctor has not said this is a trend or that treatment will soon be resumed. We'll just wait to see what next month's numbers show.

So we are once again challenged in our mental discipline. We really can't contemplate returning to the chemo, whether it's the 'roid rage, the fatigue, the shooting pains, the insatiable appetite or some other unpleasant aspect of treatment. This respite has felt so good and given us a taste of the normal. Of course, we want it to continue. So we steel our minds to stay in present, to enjoy each day, and not to stray forward or to indulge in the anxieties and worries of what might be coming. Today we are happy. Isn't that all that matters?

We had a fabulous holiday. We hooked up with Julia on 12/22 on our way to the Broadmoor for our second annual respite in honor of Susan's birthday. We indulged ourselves with food, relaxation and a trip to the spa. Christmas was fairly low key but very relaxing as was the whole holiday season. Julia is home until Jan. 20th. Catherine continues to love her job and I will soon be moving into a different line of work--mediation, as it does not appear I will be able to do the work of a trial lawyer. Those plans are in the works and should be up and running in about a month or so.

We failed to get our Christmas, New Year's, or Holiday letter out this year, for the second year in a row. But I feel that we have stayed in touch with all our friends and you are fully up to speed on this past year's events. We are happy to be bringing in a new year and to see this past year in our rear view mirror. We continue to be thankful for the support of family and friends and are truly enjoying each day. We wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.