Saturday, 27 December 2008

Time, uncertainty, myeloma and treatment cycles

I've just noted a comment from Don to one of my recent posts in which he comments on the time involved with myeloma treatments. For me its time AND uncertainty which make myeloma a bugger to handle. The time is certainly an issue and even in the last two weeks I've had about 5 different appointments . But myeloma's effects also mean that I have other issues which require other specialists. For example, I now attend the hospital dental clinic at the WGH in Edinburgh and the Dental Hospital because of the osteonecrosis fear in my jaw; the diabetic clinic because I immediately become diabetic when I go on steroids- requiring immeidate insulin therapy and then it all stops when I come off the steroids; radiology clinic for my radiotherapy assessments etc( I've now had radiotherapy on legs, arms, sacrum, back, both shoulders and new radiotherapy about to be started; orthopaedics because of my bones and now have three bits of metal in me; urology for obvious areas of concern; cardiology for what turned out to be chemo induced angina( we think); and as Don points out- all the visits to medical practice- Phew, I'm awa' for a lie doon! The joke with Maureen and Liz- the two nurses who have had most to do with me have identified that one of the clinics I haven't been to yet is gynaecology but we're working on it.

But the uncertainty( Don, Cameron- for you too?) is also an issue. I never know quite when I'm going to be ill and so holiday trip planning becomes an issue. I also never know when I'm going to be fatigued( not tired but fatigued- a big difference!) and again this affects what we do.

So- what's happening now. Went to haematology clinic before xmas and my paraprotein result wasn't through but the prediction by all of us was that it would have gone up. My prediction was that it had jumped to 44. But decision made that it was time to go back on some form of treatment and that would be thalidomide. But because I don't like what thalidomide does to me, Huw my consultant suggested I have the xmas/new year spell free of treatment and start taking the pills ( as they say!) on 2nd January.

Had great xmas day when Elspeth and I went out and had a meal- first time we've ever done that while the kids ( Kids?? Come on Stewart, they're 24, 30 and 32!!). After a great meal we then watched my favourite characters Wallace and Gromit in their newest adventure- A Matter of Loaf and Death!!( Bit Freudian?). Boxing day I got an email from Huw ( Consultant and as I've said- everybody needs a Huw) to say my paraprotein was through and up at 43- so my prediction was out by just 1. Not unexpected. Then asked him iof he'd seen my newest x ray of my right leg. Again as I'd predicted( if you have myeloma for a while yyou get used to self diagnosing). Answer in a few hours was that I now have lytic lesions in my right leg and radiotherapy now needed there. I must have the most photographed body ever! So in short the myeloma beginning to gain the upper hand and hopeful that the thalidomide will check it for a while.

On a general note I have to say its great being able to communicate woth the medics by email- it means I get decisions made quickly and also can reduce these visits and time involved. I do though try not to over use and exploit that facility. But it also has certain advantages for the medics- less time seeing me, no need to actually see me etc. I can also see the time ( and had indeed suggested it as a research project in another life) when we could be contacting the medics by video conference to discuss and let see what's haddpening.

Right, can't stop here chatting- got bikes to fix. As well as my Moultons I'm now building a DIY recumbent bike- in the hope I might get out on that before it all goes haywire. And as you all know I'm pretty mean so building my own and not paying out a £1000 appeals to me. I'm so disappointed that I'm following plans to Build a Recumbent for 18$ but can't get my costs any lower!! ( If interested see ). Its my most recent treatment cycle!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Xmas etc

Thought you might like to see and receive the e-xmas cards I'm sending this year. Both were drawn by schoolchildren for a public gallery in a shopping mall . One of them- the "Drunking" one- has an element of sadness in it but both make you wonder what they do to reindeer in that school. The other one is a bit startled!

Have a good Xmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, 19 December 2008

By popular demand etc

By popular demand I'm posting two pictures of my moulton bikes- one completed( or near completion) and the other not so much a bike as a work of art or a sculpture installation according to our lassie!!

Like my interest in Ferguson tractors what's great about these machines are not just the machines but the men behind them. Ferguson was a remarkable man who thought his tractors might reduce world poverty etc. Alex Moulton was the man who designed the suspenion for the mini in the 1960s and whose bikes were the first to have small wheels and also dual suspension. I could go on!! I think you'll work out without captions what's the completed bike and which the " installation"

Thanks again for your comment on my last post Cameron- I'd be very glad to be smouldering again( for those non patients of you " smouldering" is in fact a technical term about myeloma when before full diagnosis or during treatment the myeloma is not particularly active but is there in the background and not progressing (( I think that's it)). So- Cameron- and as a Scot you'll appreciate this- Lang may you smoulder! In my case, I'm afraid smouldering is a thing of the past and the myeloma is very active just now and on xmas eve we'll probably decide whether to go back on treatment or not. Also - Cameron I would very much like a xmas present and if you caould make it in the form of a Brechin City manager I'd appreciate that! He's leaving to manage Shamrock City!! How could he?

I have my eye on another Moulton!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Birthday targets, Dem bones, Dutch golden circle and joined up care

Those of you at my birthday party in April will recall that my next target was to be still here when my fuel allowance came in. I'm proud to say that that target has been reached- I'm still here and my first ever fuel allowance arrived last week. Now need to decide on what my next target should be.
Dem bones are giving me a hard time just now- had to ask if Ward 1 at WGH could see me as I have a pretty sore chest and shoulder. I do know the signs and it wasn't unexpected that x rays showed that my right shoulder looked " pretty moth eaten" was the medical phrase used! So- more radiotherapy being lined up and harking back to Cameron's reference to the Black Knight( see his comment to a post below on the 29th November) I now have only one limb which hasn't had a plate or pin inserted or radiotherapy- my right leg. But it does mean that as my paraprotein goes up so too does my body reveal the effects of the myeloma which in my case has tended to be bone problems or susceptibility to infections. What it also means is that when I go to clinic on the 24th the decision about more treatment or not then will be influenced by not just what level the paraprotein is ( its at 34 and was 47 when I first fell ill)but also other factors such as my bone problems.

To bring this all back to my usual level the doctor at Ward 1 ( Brenda) told me she hadn't replied to a note about me going back on my bike because she was concerned enough about that but was even more worried that it might be a motor bike! I decided then to make her day to tell her that one of my friends and I were planning ( truly) to try to have a last big adventure for me by cycling round the Golden Circle in Holland( it involves going round the causeway built to enclose what the oldies amongst us will remember as the Zuider Zee. Brenda was OK after she'd been picked up off the floor and given a good helping of oxygen! Its clear I may not be able to do that but the planning of it in itself is good fun anyway.

I've also been to the doc's today to have my INR done( the measurement on which to base my warfarin dose). What struck me this time and last is that no matter which doctor I see they all know about what's happening and are very up to date. This reflects just how joined up my care is- as one doctor put it- if I sneeze at hospital, they have a letter the next day. But it does mean that the medic team at the hospital, Helen the WGH dentist, the team at my surgery, Barbara at Marie Curie and the district nurse( who for some reason I keep referring to as the midwife) all know what's happening whenever I see them. I have absolutely no reason to complain about any aspect of my care.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Some replies

Thanks Cameron for your comment in the last post- I'm very happy to be compared with the Black Knight and like his determination to refuse to accept defeat- even with no legs and no arms- Great! For those of you who might find the video a bit "detailed " my medi tag site( I wear a medi tag with a website address on it should I need medical help. Its proved useful in one or two places as its more immediate than getting records sent) puts what Cameron is saying into context-

You should also know I have another major test on Saturday- Brechin play Edinburgh City in the cup in Edinburgh so I can go along with my sons and other Brechin supporters- in fact all of them!

Davy( Brand) Good to see you on Monday- can you let me have an email address? Send to me at