Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Rock Notes

We arrived home last night (Saturday) after 5 pretty busy days of testing in the Myeloma Institute at University of Arkansas. We thought we would be finished at the conclusion of our meeting with Dr. Bart Barlogie on Thursday afternoon, but during the meeting he ordered 3 more tests (2 more bone marrow biopsies and a PET scan), all compliments of the the Institute, since their cost was not covered by insurance. I had a complete workup from xrays, MRIs, bone scans, blood work, biopsies, etc. etc. My myeloma is not running rampant, but it is also not inactive. Catherine and Julia had fixed us dinner (mainly Julia) and we had a nice family dinner and discussed the heavy topic of Dad's likely treatment options (see below). It felt so good to be home and to be able to start to process some very complicated information.

Barlogie will be meeting with his team of doctors this coming week and we expect he will have a recommendation at that time as to treatment based upon the test results. We are scheduled for a revisit on December 12, although they were clear that if he thinks I should come back sooner, they will let me know. Suffice to say he does not mess around with this disease. He has been studying, researching and treating exlcusively myeloma for the past 20 years and I am confident he is the best myeloma specialist in the country, if not the world. He also has a reputation for being very aggressive with his treatment. Some in the medical community are critical of this, (probably including Dr. Rifkin) although one can't argue with his success. He achieves remission in a large percentage of his patients with his aggressive treatment. I think that the patient's "quality of life" is compromised during the treatment phase (which likely will include some heavy chemo, followed by one if not two transplants, and then another course of chemo, followed by maintenance chemo), but if remission can be achieved it seems to me like it's worth the sacrifice. Whether I will continue to treat here in Denver, or have to move to Little Rock is unknown at this point. My decision is complicated by the fact that I have a two well respected doctors and their egos have some play in all of this. I, on the other hand, just want to do what is best for my life. They may well have differing opinions on that.

And to end on a lighter note:
Barlogie referred to me early on as "chubby"; to which I replied: "better than mildy obese."
Susan has to return to Little Rock because all of her new friends will want to see her. She makes friends quicker than anyone I know.
The people of Little Rock are the nicest people I have ever met. They go out of their way to help you, to greet you, to put a smile on your face. This trait, in combination with Susan's ability to make friends, bodes well for any future visits.
If you're looking for a job opportunity, open a car rental shop in Little Rock. There were no rental cars available until Wednesday. None in the entire city.

We continue to be grateful for all of your love and support. I will post another note once I know what Barlogie is recommending.

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