Monday, September 06, 2010

MDA, mountains, and a birthday surprise

First the numbers report: IGGs 1909, M protein 1.5. These are essentially the same as they were in late March and June. Stable is the word. White count has come up to 2.8, which is better than it has been in some time. Not sure why, but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

My first return visit to MDA will occur in about 2 weeks. This is my 6 month checkup and will involve 3 or 4 days of testing and a visit with my doctor. They will also review the protocol for the vaccine clinical trial I will be participating in. It will take about 2 to 3 months to make the vaccine. The production will begin once MDA reviews the protocol with me one more time. Then Mike will start his visits to MDA to begin the process of vaccine injections. That will take 2 months. I will join him for the last visit as they will harvest his cells and immediately give them to me. Then I have about a year of visits as they monitor my response. If it is not what they expect they can give me a couple of more injections of Mike's cells. This all has its risks as outlined in the 10 page informed consent. But I don't have any other options, so we go forward.

In the meantime I am trying to have a life. I'm able to ride up to 12 miles on my bike. I wouldn't win any races, but the exercise is no doubt good for me. This is complemented with twice a week physical therapy sessions. I am too embarrassed to admit to the low amount of weight I am working with, buy my therapist assures me I will improve.

My brother Tom and I took a short vacation last week. Now a guy like me who does mostly nothing doesn't need a vacation. But Tom did. So we headed up to a cabin on a mountain lake in the Colorado mountains. The setting was gorgeous. My activity wasn't any greater there, although I did some hiking (walking?). I got enough of a taste that I'm hoping to be able to climb a fourteener next summer (a 14,000 foot high mountain for you non Coloradoans). I will have to see some improvement in my neuropathies, leg strength, and lung capacity, but one must set goals. It'll give me something to work on over the winter. (I had begun "bagging" fourteeners a few years before I was diagnosed and managed to reach the top of 8 peaks. Only 44 left to go!)

And finally, the birthday surprise. Last Friday was my 58th birthday. Julia requested that we stop over at her apartment before we went out for dinner, as she wanted me to open my present before we went to dinner. As we entered her apartment, I saw a large box, wrapped in birthday wrapping paper. I pulled the paper away, lifted the top and saw an old blanket. As I pulled the blanket up, out jumped......Catherine, yelling "Happy Birthday." I can honestly say it is the best surprise of my life. We had a great dinner with the girls and Tom, followed by a relaxing weekend.

We continue to be very grateful for all who have carried us these past years. I feel like I am reaping the benefits this year as I feel better than I have in 2 years.



sigun said...

Dear Dan,

What a surprise indeed!! I am so glad that Susan took this on film so that I can see Kate jumping out of the box one day!!

And it is good to set yourself some goals; I can see you already next summer, walking stick in hand, climbing up that mountain... Bises, Sigun.

Nick said...

So glad to hear you are feeling better, Dan, and to learn of that delightful birthday surprise!

We think of you often and keep you in our prayers. Keep your spirits high and keep bagging those peaks!



Steven L. Ritter said...

Ya... Bike riding...

As soon as life slows down for me, with my new job, we need to set goals for bike riding and challenge each other...
Sounds like fun to me!!!

Sandy said...

This is good news and it is clear that having the support of family and friends is part of the ingredient mix for healing. Six months... has it really been that long? Wonderful!!

Lori Puente said...

It feels so good to do some "normal" things. I'm happy that you are finding ways to enjoy some more pleasant things in life with your friends and family.

Keep it up!