Monday, June 16, 2008

Confessions of a Closet Nutritionist

Good report from the lab this morning. Igg's have dropped from 1749 last month to 1501 this month. All other measures of myeloma (M spike, beta 2 globulin, and kappa/lambda ratios) are almost identical to last month. There is still evidence of myeloma, as reflected in the M spike number, which should be 0, but is 1.2 (it has been as high as 2.7), but things continue to be stable. Spreading the steroids over 2 days has had little effect, other than I get a little more sleep on Mondays, but still am wiped out on Thursdays and Fridays as I crash off the chemo and/or the steroids. Oh well, we have a comfortable sofa in the basement for me to nap on those days.

So, what's with this "confessions of a closet nutritionist?" For the 2 weeks prior to the last blood draw I took a mystery nutrition drink a friend sent me. Without elaborating on the story behind it, he claimed it had some curative effects on some cancers, was made of amino acids, and urged me to drink it. The 4 quarts of clear liquid arrived in unmarked bottles, sitting in an unmarked box, with no instructions or ingredients. The only markings were his return address on the box. I let it sit on the counter for a couple of days, as I contemplated whether to "take the plunge" into the unknown. Then I decided to see if it would poison me. Having survived the sampling, I took a little more the next day. Still no adverse effects. So I went full bore and drank 12 ounces a day for 2 weeks. In the second week I noticed a definite increase in my energy, even managing to complete some to-do lists (a rare feat for me). Of course, I was a bit nervous about my numbers, worrying that maybe my mystery drink would interfere with my chemo, and have the opposite effect on my numbers. So, this month's report was good news. The numbers haven't changed much, but the increase in energy is encouraging and I think I'll ask for some more mystery drink. There are some who might call this "snake oil". But I just learned that clinical trials are going to start on this drink at the University of Utah within a few weeks. So they must have some legitimate studies to get it to that level.

Finally, this entire episode gives me (and now you) some insight into how much those of us with terminal illness would like our lives to change. Yes, we keep our chins up and endure, but make no mistake about it, when given even the slightest hope that maybe things could change for the better, we're likely to pursue that hope. We can't tell our doctors, because we know their advice is-- No, you can't take the chance with an unknown. Yet, they're giving us toxins with many unknown side effects. In my case, even those toxins bring no promise of a cure. So, we weigh the risks and often tell ourselves, maybe, just maybe, this will work for me. Delusional? Perhaps. But what do we have to lose? So, it seems I have not stumbled onto a cure; but I have found something to help with my fatigue. That's all for now: I've got a to-do list to finish!

P.S. Great movie tip: If the documentary "Bigger Stronger Faster" comes to your town, it's a must see. Not just because it involves one family's exploration of steroid use, but also because the director is Chris Bell, nephew of Arlene and Jim Bell. Arlene, as you know, is a frequent blogger, and is Susan's first cousin. In addition, the movie was featured at both the Tribeca and Sundance Film Festivals this year. (keep in mind that I am on corticosteroids, not anabolic steroids--hence I put on pounds of fat, not muscle)

Much love to all, and a belated Happy Father's day to all you Dads.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stealth Bloggers??

My posting last month that numbers would be delivered today was in error. I was a week off. I started my 6th cycle of maintenance yesterday and had my blood drawn for myeloma analysis, which results will be reported next Monday! My other blood counts were OK, although a bit down from the past month. No worries, yet, but not drifting in the right direction. Hoping its just some bouncing around, as these numbers will do occasionally.

On a brighter note, I've managed to push my swimming to 50 laps. When I started about a month ago, I struggled to get to 20, so we're definitely seeing some improvement. I wouldn't win any speed races--except maybe against my old friend Doug Kappel, who spent more time dating lifeguards than he did actually swimming---. I swim more for the pure enjoyment. I've been a swimmer my whole life, and spending 30 or 40 minutes swimming outside with the sun beating down (yes, I use my sunblock) is pure heaven.

Oh, and have you noticed that site meter, we have had over 1400 visitors since mid March when I installed that. Who are you people? Stealth bloggers, no doubt, who sign in during the middle of the night, and leave no messages!!!!!

More next week. My best to everyone.