Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Bags Full

Late post today as the internet connection has been fritzing. Perserverance and patience and some well timed naps.

Last night, starting at 11PM, I was infused with 1 round of platelets and 2 bags of whole blood. The process lasted until about 7:30AM. They would have to wake me and take vital signs to make sure I was not having any issues. It was somewhat of a restless night, but wasn't too bad. The nurse was very quiet as she did what she had to do. In fact, I didn't even know when she brought the second bag of blood in to my room, she was that quiet.

The need for blood products is not an emergency or a set back. It's part of the rebuilding process. From here, they will draw blood every night to see if the things are starting to rebuild in there. With good luck, numbers should start shooting up in the next day or two. After that, they watch for them to maintain themselves and then if they do, I will be released. No time frame on that yet. I got goals. I'm at peace with whatever date. I do believe I'm down in the singular vs. double digit amount of days left.

It's all about the pearls.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hemoglobin and Oysters

I'm most likely slated for some whole blood transfusion today to boost up all of the blood vs. platelets only as in the past. It's all part of the "normal" part of this treatment. Some numbers are hanging in there and they just want to make sure I trend in the right direction. Some numbers are at their "nadir" and have no where to go but back up. With that said, they told me that it's very important at this stage that anybody who wants to visit who may have a cold, or has been exposed to one, hold off on visiting until my counts come back up. Don't even feel the least bit bad if you can't come to visit because of that. I will respect your decision and will look forward to seeing you all that much more when the green flag goes back up.

Another interesting conversation I had yesterday is that blood products and platelets go to trauma victims first (as they should) and then the rest of us as it is available. There have been some needed transfusions down here that had to wait because of lack of product. The only reason it makes no sense to me is that there should never be a lack of product. There are plenty of beds available at blood banks everywhere and if you call them up and they say they can't fit you in, be ornery and tell them you want to help continue and save lives. See how they answer to that.

About oysters... From the perspective of a cancer patient, but very applicable if you aren't, I have told my story quite a bit and have heard other stories. I appreciate that you have listened to my story and that you have shared yours. One thing that can overwhelm you at times is hearing a story that has some similarity to yours, but not exactly. The trick is turning that information into a pearl from the grit and mud that you are ingesting. That's what the doctors, nurses, caregivers, clinical researchers help you do. I don't even like oysters, but I like their system.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Construction Started

Last night, I started receiving some blood growth stimulant drugs and also an infusion of platelets. Platelet counts are holding their own. Still way below the normal level, but above the level they would need to be in order to be released. The nurse this AM said they would monitor my blood and I would probably need more platelets in another day or two. The trending of the white counts (very important to fight off infection) is low, as expected. Those counts should start bouncing back by Thursday or Friday this week, also as expected. Once those start coming back, they will monitor me for appetite and physical activity. When the "perfect storm" of counts, activity and appetite are back, I will be released. Barring any complications, I could be released sometime during the week next week. At this point, being up and moving about is not a problem. I just don't have as big an appetite as I did a week or so ago. However, I have become a big fun of the bacon that they serve in here. Very tasty, not greasy. My appetite will come back as I know I can't wait to have some Baskin Robbins Rum Raisin ice cream in the near future.

Other good stuff is that the residual effects of chemo from last week are most prominent 5-7 days after the final chemo was infused. They have me on anti-nausea medicine for the next few days and I've not had any nausea since they started that medication. I responded well with minimal side effects from the other forms of chemo that were previouusly infused, although they were a lot less intense than this chemo. However, it seems there are more drugs that go into you to avoid side effects than the actual volume of chemo that goes in. With that said, I'm feeling pretty good with minimal side effects. My old friends, the hiccups, came back to visit yesterday, but they subsided. I'll take the hiccups any day vs. the other junk.

Have your own day of fun!

Monday, July 27, 2009


"Monday, Monday..." It's been good to me. Good sleep night last night and even got to see and hear the thunderstorm that rolled through around 2:30AM. I enjoy being awakened by thunderstorms in the middle of the night. Except for the time that a tornado hit our house in the middle of the night when I was a kid.

The Physician Assistant told me today that "all was on schedule." What that means is that my body is responding to the chemo and stem cells as they thought it would. My counts have taken the projected dip and are close to the point where there is no where to go but back up. When that will happen, there's a rough idea, but nothing is certain. They gave me stuff to prevent nausea in the middle of the night and it worked last night.

Question: "When will I be released?" No clue. Probably sometime next week. I'd prefer to be here and stabilized and showing progress rather than being out for the sake of it. I started the stem cell collection process 3 weeks ago was and now here it is 3 weeks later all of a sudden. I feel pretty confident that I won't be in here for another 3 weeks. That's talking big talk and there could be complications, but at some point, orneriness should count for something.

I'll keep adding the info below on the daily posts just so you don't have to search for it in the blog. Also, keep Bo, Hunter, Jay and my "apheresis alumni" in your thoughts and prayers.

The HELPER logon is used by family and friends
that would like to sign-up to help a loved one.

To access Greg Frazee's personal CareCalendar site,
visit and enter the following information in the appropriate spaces:


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Compromising My Independence

Below is a web site and related information directing you if you want to help me surrender my independence while I am in recovery mode. It will only be a short surrender. For now, there is only one item on the list and that is the day of cleaning on Saturday, August 1. If you have any questions about how to access any of the information on the web site, let me know. You can reach me at gregterp AT verizon DOT net. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The HELPER logon is used by family and friends
that would like to sign-up to help a loved one.

To access Greg Frazee's personal CareCalendar site,
visit and enter the following information in the appropriate spaces:


Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Mechanics Of It All

Some good questions and comments about this whole process have come my way in the last few days.

The stem cell return party is more about a construction job than a "flush and fill." If it were simply flush and fill, it wouldn't take as long. The stem cells coming back are about having all of the blocks, mortar, nails and wood delivered to the job site and then the rebuilding process begins. For some of us in here, it takes a little longer because of the type of construction required. My rebuilding process is underway and for now they will monitor the progress, all the while being subject to external environmental factors (susceptibility to infections, etc. due to low blood counts) just as a rain shower would delay construction on a building. The rain shower doesn't mean that construction has to stop, it means it is delayed until the floor gets mopped up and the lumber gets dried off. Then, we keep building.

My construction delays will probably occur early-mid next week as they say that is usually the time that the patient feels kind of run down and fatigued. However, they got meds for that. If I don't post status, or seem kind of weary between now and the day I'm released, no cause for concern unless you hear differently.

Another interesting bit of stem cell trivia....On the "tag" that was on my stem cells, there was an expiration date. The date was 10 years after they were collected. Amazing stuff. One of the Physician Assistants told me that he was working with some stem cells that had been stored in the lab for at least 20 years. He also recounted a story about someone who had tried to sell their stem cells on E-Bay. Needless to say, E-Bay shut that down pretty quick.

I probably won't post anything on the blog until Monday unless I have any good stuff to share or the dreams from nighttime are even more vivid. Frankly, I'm going with Judith's dream suggestions (except for the baby blue ones - you'd think she'd lay off the Tar Heel comments on my blog after last year). other thing. The caregivers, all of them, are big on celebrating any and all milestones. There is doubt ahead, as there is with anything. However, you are still allowed to celebrate the return of stem cells (some of the caregivers call it your "other birthday"), ending chemo, blood counts coming back to normal, etc. Cancer does take something away from you. However, so do a lot of things. Letting those things continually bankrupt you, gives them permission to have the power they do not deserve.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Missed The Talking Monkey Part

The stem cells went back in with no event. Sorry, no pictures. Just didn't feel like doing it. The doctor and nurses were all over monitoring me as they went back in and did a great job. Except for feeling a little flush, I tolerated it pretty well. Some of the nurses said they could smell the preservative, but I did not. You know how that goes.

I think between the anxiety, subconscious, and the drugs, I had quite the set of technicolor dreams last night. They lasted all night long and I saw some places I've never seen. Nothing too crazy, just dreams that would make me feel relieved to wake up in a hospital bed. The content of the dreams was about being lost, not being able to find things in a grocery store, trying to find lost things, etc. Zoweee. Maybe it's good I read some "Calvin and Hobbes" comics this morning - or should quit reading them before I go to bed.

Feeling good today and today is officially "Day 1" of the 100 day recovery process. Yet another day to celebrate this year and every year!

Have a good "Day 1" yourself!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In A Little While

Stem cells will go back in to me. I'll give details after it's done and maybe even post a picture of them going back in - at least of what a bag of them looks like - not actually the view of them magnified and going in to me. Christmas in July!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Am I Drinking?

May have to really start drinking my own tonic. Have had some great conversations with caregivers and other folks in here about my optimism and outlook. I've told them that I haven't always been so optimistic about stuff in the past. Frankly, a year ago, I knew I was not in a good place mentally and physically. Ah, the hindsight of time!

Today, I'm pretty fired up as, except for some IV fluid going in me today, there will be nothing going in me until tomorrow when the stem cells come back. I've slept pretty well the past few nights and wonder if it will be like Christmas Eve tonight.

Blood counts are good from yesterday, but that doesn't mean they will continue to stay where they are. I expect them to drop as the chemo finishes it's job and then the stem cells will start bringing them back some time next week. I have given myself a target date for release, not based on anything anyone has promised. I will defer to the wisdom of my body, the doctor's and nurses for the actual date. No matter what it is, it will be just fine. The great thing about this particular process is that there are benchmark days to celebrate your achievement. So far, there have been two. Admission and the end of chemo. Tomorrow is #3 day and then #4 (when blood counts start picking back up) and then #5 (when I am released). Due to the good nature of everyone in here, there are lots of great bridges to help with the crossing to those benchmark days.

"Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle,
Don't grumble, give a whistle,
And this'll help things turn out for the best, and..." - Eric Idle

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don't Worry Mr. Alien....'s just a harmless liquid in a sodium chloride solution. Gosh, Mr. Alien has been sooooo sucker punched when he didn't know what was coming sometimes. For instance, today was the scheduled last day of chemotherapy. EVER. The last drip finished shortly after 5PM today. There was a small celebration in my room involving the playing of "The Hallelujah Chorus" by Handel. Next up, stem cells back in me on Thursday and then building up to the mean, fighting machine of cancer that I will become. If cancer thought it had a challenge from me prior to all of this, "I pity the fool" once I get the green light after this.

A friend of mine said to me the other day, "You have probably tripled your amount of friends during all of this. That's pretty cool and I am also humbled by comments like the one that was posted by Annette yesterday on my blog. There are a lot of people in the profession of treating and fighting cancer in all levels of the process like herself, and they are amazing gifts to all of us.

When I wonder about how the economy or other issues are going to pan out, I realize that there is inherent goodness in everyone and in the world. It reminds me of one of my favorite mantras. "That which is not good, is not permanent."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fun With Staff And Jimmy Buffett

We had fun in here yesterday. Friends of mine and my brother came to visit. They were quite amused by the good spirits and humor of the staff. In the spirit of the day, below is my tribute to chemotherapy, to the tune of "Margaritaville," by Mr. Jimmy Buffett. I wrote it yesterday after the hijinks died down.

Alopecia’s a big word
For a term that you have heard
Known as baldness to regular folk
Neuropathy’s another
It’s not a real bother
Just a tingling in the tip of your toes

Infusi'n today again with chemotherapy
Hopin' that the IV li-ine don't plug
Some people claim that there’s an ONC nurse to blame
But I know, they're ore-ner-ary drugs

I know the reason
It’s been a couple seasons
Nothin to show but these new IV lines
But they’re real beauties
Medical cuties
Sometimes the drips, they make you go pee

Infusi'n today again with chemotherapy
Hopin' that the IV li-ine don't plug
Some people claim that there’s an ONC nurse to blame
Now I think, they're ore-ner-ary drugs

I got the hiccups
They’re better than chuck-up
They got pills that can counter all that
And there’s juice in the clear tubes
And soon it will run through
And kill them dang bad cells that started this all

Infusi'n today again with chemotherapy
Hopin' that the IV li-ine don't plug
Some people claim that there’s an ONC nurse to blame
But I know they're or-ner-ary drugs
Yes, and some people claim that there’s an ONC nurse to blame
And I know they're or-ner-ary drugs

Alternative Chorus for Radiation Patients:
Glowing today again from radiation.
Checking out my crazy new tattoo.
Some people claim that I don't look quite the same.
But I know, I look better than you!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Someone's Got To Do It!

The reason I am receiving this treatment and all of the supplemental medications that go along with it is due to research and testing in the past that created a median point of reactions to all of this. Somewhere, there were folks that were outside of the median one way or the other. Those who know me well, know where I fall.

With that said, I am halfway completed with the chemo treatments that they are administering during my stay in here. Last night, I slept well and hiccups did not come to visit. I was hungry when I woke up this morning and I forced myself to rest even though I started stirring awake around the normal time I do when I am at home. The nights are restless somewhat because the nurses have to administer the chemo and do vital sign measurements on me every 4 hours. It cracks me up when they apologize for waking you, but I tell them I see that as their way of wanting me to get better.

We're having fun in here. Some great personalities in here and it's a special person who chooses this line of work. We have talked about the advances in cancer treatment and how we believe that some of this stuff may be as simple one day as taking an OTC medicine. I believe it and I think of the folks who have been courageous enough in the past to undergo treatment in order to pave the way for those of us who have followed them later. There should be optimism driving all of this. As I told the nurse today, "I know I may not be feeling all that well on the day my stem cells go back into me, but I do know that it will be the beginning of me of getting me back to feeling well."

The attending doctor gave me some optimism yesterday. I don't want to promise anything (and really can't), but the schedule he and I discussed about when I could potentially be "bounced back," is ahead of the schedule I had set in my mind - for the first time in any of this.

I'm going for it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"On The Third Day"

"On The Third Day" is the third studio LP by Electric Light Orchestra.

Tolerating chemo pretty well. Yesterday's mix gave me a return visit by my old friend, the hiccups. They have pills for that, but I had a midnight snack, or two, and they subsided. There is no regular sleeping pattern with all of this, but if means there will be a good sleeping pattern a few months out, then "let it be, let it be."

The staff here is impressive. As a note to you if you are intimidated by the thought of getting lost here if you come to visit, the employees are trained to look for the "I'm lost" look and they will ask you if they can help you find where you are going.

For those of you who want to know what you can do to help, I will be posting a link to a web based calendar that will list things that you can do. Right now, the first event if you would like to help, is going to take place on Saturday, August 1 at my house. There is going to be a cleaning crew assembled at my house at 9:00AM to do a spring cleaning in advance of my arrival home the following week. If you would like to help, or recruit others, it will be appreciated. Feel free to e-mail me at gregterp AT verizon DOT net and I will pass your name(s) on to the person who is coordinating the effort. It shouldn't take too long as I do keep a pretty tidy house (in spite of being a single man), but I'm sure there will be an adequate supply of dust bunnies to hunt down.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to help.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Irony Was Not Lost On Me

That I was admitted to the hospital on the day of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Launch. I feel certain there is less risk with my procedure than there was with Apollo 11.

Had the first round of chemo yesterday. Started around 4:30PM or so and finished around 7PM. There are plenty of supplemental drugs with this, but this one chemo infusion had more of an effect as far as wooziness, feeling hungover, etc. than previous chemo infusions. It's a normal reaction and they do insist that you let them know how you are feeling at all times.

Right now, the schedule is 5 more days of the chemo regimen, so the last drip should go in on Tuesday. Then, Wednesday would be an off day where they pump me with IV solutions to flush out the chemo, They said I would be making frequent trips to the rest room that day. The day after that (Thursday), I would start getting my stem cells back. Warning, the preservative they use to protect my stem cells that were collected has quite the strong odor and will make the room smell for a day or two. I've read that there is the smell of oysters or garlic. The person that figures out how to make the preservative smell like fresh linen could probably be set for life. I imagine it's being researched in a lab somewhere.

Blood counts are hanging in there. Results from the blood work from last night show that platelets are up around 120, (about 20 points below the lowest desired count - but 70 points higher than they were last week after collecting stem cells) and the white counts are good. I know the counts will go crazy over the next several days, but I have been encouraged throughout the whole process in the way my counts have responded after injections and platelet infusions.

I look forward to the final chemo party that I will have next Tuesday. I may not be all that strong physically on that day, but mentally will be beside myself. Then, when the stem cells come back to visit, I'll have another one of those private parties. I apologize in advance to the first person I see when I start feeling like myself physically. Be ready for it!

This Eagle will land and come back!

Stay tuned for upcoming song parodies. Working title: "Wasted Away Again With Chemotherapy." Thank you Jimmy Buffett and I'm sure Skippy will have to say something about it.

Hunter update: He had his final scheduled chemotherapy the other day. Things are looking good there. Bo is coming to close to the end of his treatments and should be done by the end of August. I'm looking forward a road trip someday to celebrate with those little men and their families. I'm thinking there will be plenty of East Carolina barbecue consumed!

Others who are doing well are Judith, who posts comments here (most of the time with Tar Heel comments)and also Kim, the receptionist of one my clients. She was diagnosed with brain cancer and has been receiving treatments. She has been going to work in the middle of her treatments. I really respect that. We all talk about going to the "salt mines," but you get a different perspective on that when you go through something like this. It's part of the therapy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Do My Dreaming And My Scheming... my room." - The Beach Boys

I am officially admitted and waiting for the ride to take off. Will start the first administration of chemo this afternoon around 4PM.

How to find me, you ask?

I am in MCV (official name is VCU Health Systems for you out of town folks) Hospital.
I am in room 15 on the 10th floor of the North Hospital building. The direct phone number is 804-649-5798 (the phone has not been hooked up yet). I also have my cell phone with me and that number is 804-432-0223. If I don't answer the phone when you call, I am either in a procedure or have visitors. If you call my cell, you can leave a message and I will call you back.

My e-mail: gregterp AT verizon DOT net (I posted it that way to keep from getting spam e-mail. You sub in the @ and . where normally they are placed). Sorry, if I'm insulting you tech geeks with that instruction.

If you want to send cards, the address is: Greg Frazee , C/o MCV/VCU Hospital , Bone Marrow Transplant Program , 1300 E. Marshall St. , North Hospital-10th floor , P.O. Box 980157, Richmond VA 23298-0157

If you come to visit and are unfamiliar with the area, it's very easy to find on Google Maps and there is plenty of parking nearby. If you get lost anywhere around the hospital area, the people that work here know it's a big place and a bit overwhelming and anyone will help you if you think you are lost.

Rules about if you come to visit: If you have a cold, sore throat or flu, or have been exposed to chickenpox in last 3 weeks, they won't let you in. No fresh flowers or live plants. If outside food is brought in, it must be unopened and canned, boxed, bagged or frozen. No fresh fruit or vegetables. No food prepared at home or a restaurant. You will have to wash your hands at the sink outside my room or in the hallway before you come into my room. You won't be permitted to sit on my bed or use my bathroom. You won't have to pick up my phone while here. If you do, we'll just have to wipe it off. I will have a little sheet of info about other stuff you will need to know when you come into my room as far as what you can touch. If you bring a drink in the room, it has to be covered. Only 3 people other than me can be in the room at once. Best news, you won't have to worry about kissing me as that is not allowed. If you have children that aren't in my immediate family, they aren't permitted to visit.

Sounds a bit overwhelming and I hope it doesn't discourage you from visiting. Your visits will be part of the therapy and I look forward to them. The "rules" are nothing more than common sense at a paranoid degree. Obeying them now, allows for the raising of heck and good times later on!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Must Be This Tall....

I am all cleared for the "big boy" chemotherapy/stem cell transplantation ride.

I will be admitted tomorrow at 8AM and will be in my room sometime that morning. The chemotherapy will start tomorrow.

Once I am in my room and know what the room number and phone number is, I will post it on my blog.

Let the party at MCV begin!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heading A Few Miles Due East

Got the official word today that there were more than enough stem cells collected for my transplant. To be exact, they collected 4.7 x 10(6). I wrote it that way as homage to the transplant coordinator who e-mailed the numbers exactly that way to me. Those technical people crack me up. I was flattered that she thought I was bright enough to understand how that translated. I had no problem understanding those numbers in high school chemistry. It was when I was asked to further manipulate them that I ran into trouble. So...the scenario breaks down like this. Wednesday, I go to the clinic for a pre-admit check up and go over the details of being admitted. On Thursday (barring any craziness coming out of Wednesday's check up), I will be admitted. I will post my room address, phone number and my e-mail address on Thursday's blog posting - later that afternoon once I get settled in my room.

A note about my blog content...A friend of mine called me over the weekend concerned about some of the things I posted. He was wondering where my anxiety level was. I assured him I wasn't permanently down. He suggested that I expand on the process of anxiety in all of this.

Sometimes, my anxieties can get pretty high and that contributes to nights that I don't sleep well, etc. I can only be honest with you and let you know exactly what is going on in my head as it happens. My intent is not to garner pity or attention, but to let you know how this whole thing works both mentally and physically. I know that I have no control over the physical part of it, but I can control the mental. It's not always "sunshine, puppies and roses" when you are feeling well physically. That's when you get nailed with anxieties. Most cancer survivors will tell you that sometimes you wait for the other shoe to drop. One thing I will tell you is that I grabbed hold of this mentally in the early going and have openly discussed my mental state with my caregivers from day one. They have been candid and helpful. However, just because I may seem very upbeat on Tuesday, it doesn't mean that I will be in the same mental state on Wednesday. The trick is to make sure you don't stay in anxiety land and I think I've done a pretty good job staying out of there. I welcome the anxiety because it helps me process myself out of a given anxiety. Just because I have processed that anxiety, doesn't mean it won't reoccur, it means that I am able to deal with it better the next time it comes around. A friend, who is a breast cancer survivor, assured me that anxiety is part of the process and always will be. It just becomes a less frequent visitor as the days go on. I replied to a fellow apheresis "classmate" last week who said, "So, you are a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma victim too!", with a response of, "No, I'm not. I'm a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma fighter." Right now, in round 11 of this title fight, I believe I am the favorite of the judges and crowd. However, it doesn't mean that the other guy is going to quit throwing punches.

On the floor where I will be staying in the hospital, there is a social worker. I like that she will be available while I am there.

That's the story. I won't post anything until after the Wednesday appt.

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes,....,and prepared to do any good work." - A Guy Named Paul

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Starting Ignition Sequence

By day end yesterday, they had collected close to 4.5 million stem cells over the course of 4 days. Unofficially, that should be enough to begin treatment. I'll know officially from my transplant coordinator at the clinic on Monday.

For now, starting to get things together for hospital visit of fun and also adding some non treatment related activities to take the edge off of a week of visits to the hospital. One of the nurses told me the impact on the body of a day's worth of stem cell collection is equivalent to running a marathon due to the losses of electrolytes, etc. that occur during the collection process. Never had any desire to run a marathon, but I know now my blood stream could handle it.

One more pitch....I saw "A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine" last night. It is being performed at The Cultural Arts Center At Glen Allen by The Henrico Theatre Company from now until July 26. Great show. Lots of fun. Makes me want to watch Marx Brothers movies all weekend.

Nothing to post tomorrow or Monday AM. Will post info on Monday evening after I get official confirmations of stuff.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"A Blessing On Your Head"

This picture is the actual machine that is collecting my stem cells.

By all accounts, this could be the final day of stem cell collection. Last night was the last time I had to go back to the hospital in the evening to get the shot of Mozobil. One thing for certain, the drugs and the stem cell collection do have effects on the body. I was a little "sea legged" after I left the collection yesterday, but with rest, I recovered. As far as sleeping, between the normal anxiety and the drugs, I didn't sleep as well last night as I did the night before, but at least I slept and had good dreams. No "visions" last night.

Good news is that my blood counts are good. Platelets are down and that's normal with this process. Since my white counts are good, I will be able to do some social activities this weekend that I was hoping to get able to do. I'm looking forward to it.

Funny story is that my blood magnesium counts were low the other day and they had to inject some magnesium in me. I asked them if there were any foods I should be eating to help boost the magnesium. There are several healthy alternatives including some beans, peanuts, whole wheat products, etc. In addition, chocolate is a good source of magnesium. I tried the chocolate pudding route as it also has calcium which can also be reduced in this process. You guessed it.

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender looks at him and asks, "Why the long face?"

Today's title source - Sheldon Harnick

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Far Beyond Where The Horizon Lies"

Back at apheresis this morning.

Great news about the guy that I mentioned in yesterday's blog is that he has met his stem cell count and will be admitted for treatment soon. He's carrying a pretty heavy load with his diagnosis and also with personal issues.

I found out today that I will potentially be admitted next Thursday. By potentially, I mean that no one is complete control of what the body's responses/reactions are going to be in this process, so you adjust and adapt as necessary.

I related to the nurse attending me today that I had a anxiety "vision" of sorts last night in the middle of the night. I told her that this process sometimes is like looking at the horizon and seeing dark clouds rolling towards you. She asked, "Are you able to see beyond those clouds?"

Today's Title Credit - Stephen Schwartz

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Here One Day...

...back the next. Sitting in the apheresis chair for day two of stem cell collection. Got a Mozobil injection last night and will get another one tonight. Interesting thing about the Mozobil is that is wasn't FDA approved until last December and even though the folks in the clinic are familiar with the drug, they are very impressed with it's ability to do what it is supposed to do.

Big picture, there is a guy in here that was diagnosed with a form of myeloma and has been receiving treatment since 2003. At this point, his cancer is considered treatable, but not curable. He needs to collect 10 million stem cells. I need to collect 5 million. He started collection last month and then had a 3 week break and is back to collect the balance. I noted when I first saw him last week that he seemed glum and kept to himself. Today, he was smiling and somewhat conversational. At this very moment, he is lying in his chair and sleeping.

I hope he has more smiling days. He needs some Skippy friends like the ones I got (if you haven't read it, you HAVE to read Skippy's comment to yesterday's blog posting).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm Growing Accustomed To This Place

Schedules have a way of changing. The folks at the clinic called yesterday afternoon and asked me to come back down at 8:30 last night to get an injection of Mozobil to help stimulate stem cell production. In addition, I needed to get the dressing changed where they inserted the catheter lines yesterday.

Currently, I am in the apheresis clinic getting platelets collected. This process will occur daily at least for 4-5 days until they have collected enough stem cells to have in reserve for the "reboot." Each day's collection process last about 4-6 hours.

That's the deal for now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

All Dressed Up.....

.... and no stem cells to harvest. Back from MCV and taking things easy for the rest of the day per the instructions given to me by the folks that inserted the port. I now have another catheter in me and I now know why they need it in addition to the port I already have. As my blood is extracted, it travels through a tube that goes into the apheresis machine to harvest the stem cells. Once they are harvested, the blood (minus the stem cells) is returned to my body via a separate tube. Hence, the need for a catheter with two lines.

The insertion of the catheter went well and everyone was very professional and very good natured. I'm getting more at peace with the overall size of MCV, and there are some great folks working there doing some great things for patients.

Tomorrow, I go back for more blood work and a possible start to the stem cell collection process. Could be a short day. Could be a long day.

A friend asked me about my anxiety level. I told them it's up there, but I see anxiety as a way to process things mentally and get yourself where you need to be mentally. Anxiety is the coach looking at the offense and defense and deciding what play to run.

To help in the process, some cool things happened over the weekend that I took as signs to help process the anxiety.
1) I met a very nice couple in church yesterday that work at MCV. The wife works in the clinic where I will be having my stem cells collected.
2) During communion at church yesterday, the pianist started playing "Simple Gifts."
3) While I was having blood work today, one of the Nurse Practitioners walked in the room to weigh himself. I had performed in a show with him last year and it was the first time I had seen him since the show closed. It was great to see him again.
4) One of the nurses from Virginia Cancer Institute called me while I was coming home from the hospital to check on me and see how I was doing.

Those were my "burning bushes."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This Reminds Me Of....

...driving in my car to closing when I bought my house. There were moments when I said, "If I turn my car around and head back to my apartment and call the closing attorney and tell him I am backing out, it will get rid of a lot of stress and all will be fine. Do I REALLY have to buy a house?"

I went anyway. The attorney and his assistant were fun and it was a reasonably good feeling to be handed the keys. A few days later there was a big party at the house and hearing people's voices talking and laughing made the house feel like a home.

Yesterday, the transplant coordinator called me and in the conversation she said, "We're going to have a lot of fun down here while you are here." I told her that I hoped so.

Giving the blog the weekend off. All that I'm doing this weekend is getting the shots to prepare for stem cell collection and then Monday they will do blood work to check the stem cell counts and then also insert the catheter. I'll do the next blog entry Monday afternoon/evening to let you know how the day went.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Confidence Of Skill And Talent

Last night I watched a rehearsal for a show in which some of my friends are involved. Some are performing on stage, while the others are directing the show or the music. Even though it's almost a week and a half until it opens, they are at a level that engaged me in the show and I enjoyed watching it in rehearsal stage without the lights, set and costumes. If you are near the Richmond VA area, go see the Henrico Theatre Company's presentation of "A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine." It opens on July 10 and runs for 3 weekends.

I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented professionals in theatre over the years. The really good ones keep it together and never lose their cool. As a result, they produce a spectacular product. That's why I enjoyed watching the talent of my friends last night. If they made a mistake, they knew it, they fixed it, and they moved on. They have the skill and confidence to know they can follow that process.

That's why I don't have all that much anxiety about my upcoming hospital stay. I will be in the hands of people with skill and talent. It's the part after the hospital stay, where I will have to surrender my independence to others with skill and talent, that is the cause for some anxiety. Don't take that the wrong way. I'm going to have to learn a new way of thinking about assessing my condition. Between myself and those who are helping me, we'll develop new skills and talents to assess whatever situation presents itself. Fortunately, there will be guidelines from the folks at MCV to help with the process. I don't have any anxiety about anyone who has volunteered to help after I come home from the hospital. They will take care of me better than they take care of themselves. I will have to allow myself to be more of an audience member than being a part of the production at first.

This was playing on my car's CD player last night after I left the rehearsal.

"When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors." - The Beatles

God is talented.