Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chemo Treatment #5

Sorry to blog late.  Yesterday was Chemo day and what a long day!  Christmas stuff is happening and keeping us very busy as well.

Hemogloben was at 104.  Down two points.  Doctor says it's ok.  I gave him his needle to strengthen it last night.
During this past week on his right leg, above the ankle, it became swollen, red, dry and very itchy.  Turned into a rash.  Doctor sent him to ultra sound to rule out a blood clot.....all ok. WHEW.
Also, during the week, he's been coughing and looks like he's developing a cold.  Doctor listened to his breathing and detected wheezing on right lung.  Off to see Michael in X-ray dept. We missed Michael, he wasn't there.  LOL  Results, no pneumonia.  WHEW, again.
So, doctor okayed chemo today.  In the chemo room, we were told he needed his monthly bone strengthening IV medicine.  Darn, that takes two hours to drip through.  We weren't expecting this.  However, Tony gets the comfy chair, lounging and reading the paper and gets to watch TV.  He gets control of the converter......while I sit on a stool with wheels :(

While waiting for the IV to finish, we were going to miss the appointment with the pain management doctor, so he came to us to discuss back issues.  Basically he said Tony's back is a mess and isn't surprised about his pain.  He was asking Tony how his neck was because the MRI showed problems there as well and that he should be in much pain.  But his neck is pain free.  He's very surprised at that.  Tony does have a fracture on his lower back causing much pain.  Hence all the morphine.  In the end, instructions are ZERO physio, absolutely no chiropractors or excessive physical activity.  He seems ok with acupuncture.  Must be with small needles only.  He feels that he needs a second opinion to simply validate his suspicions, which is good. This Friday AM, Tony is at Sunnybrook with a back specialist.  Sounds like they'll be discussing surgery options?  This is definitely Myeloma related injuries.  Pretty quick, eh?

Since our last blog, Tony has improved with mobility and pain is manageable.  (His mom is happy with this)
Steroids have begun again----4 days on, 4 days off!   OMG....His chatter is back!  There goes "my" sleep.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Some of you have been asking about how to comment on some of the posts.  We have changed the settings to public.
We would love to hear from you!
Tony & Mary

Chemo Treatment #4

An early early day today.  At hospital for 8am.  YIKES!
Last week's chemo needle left a red mark where they gave it to him.  They said it was a normal reaction and to keep an eye on it.
Let's see how today's needle reaction will be.
He's had four really good days.  Minimal pain.  Much more mobile.
The blood work this morning showed his hemoglobin up to 106.  Good news!  The doctor is happy with his results so far.  The needle I give him Tuesday nights for his hemoglobin might be stopped next week.  She will let us know.  I'm getting used to poking him with the needle.
We have stopped with the steriods for now.  YEAH!!!!  HURRAY!!!!  I can sleep now.  These steriods made him quite the chatterer, especially at night time.  He would strike up conversations with me at every opportunity during the night.  Rolling over in bed does not mean I'm awake to chat.  I'm looking forward to a great sleep tonight.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chemo Treatment #3

Two days behind my blog......
On Tuesday, it was Tony's third treatment.
The X-ray from last week confirmed a third broken rib :(  Not my fault this time.
MRI results tell us that he has degenerative disc bulges.  Also, lesions from Multiple Myeloma along the spine are evident, mostly at the lower back.  :(
We were expecting both these results.  Still sad about the news......Tony needs to be extra careful with everything he does.
Sounds like back surgery may have to be an option for him in the future.  He has an appointment next week with another doctor to discuss his pain management and options re his back.
Blood work on Tuesday showed that his hemoglobin was at 101.  WOOHOO!!!!  Still climbing.  I'm still giving him the needle on Tuesdays.  Until these numbers are where the doctor needs them to be, I will continue to do so as per her instructions.  This needle is the one that helps with the hemoglobin levels.  It was my second ever needle injection.  It went well.  Tony was so calm about it.  That made it easier on me.
He worked Monday, Wednesday and is at the office this morning too.
His energy is good..
Back spasms still continue over the night.
His weight has finally leveled off over the last 1 1/2 weeks.  Up and down, up and down.
Overall, having an ok week.  I'll take that!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First time in 3 months

This morning, Tony put his own socks help from me.  Huge accomplishment!
Ended with another good day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

More better days than bad days

Tony has had a few good days.  The onset of gout appeared on Wednesday, but he took an Aleve in the morning and one at night and it cleared before it got full blown.  Whew!
Yesterday an MRI was done to rule out other possibilities causing the backache.  Results should be on Tuesday.
Last night was a completely sleepness night.  The steroids he's taking apparently make him quite the chatterbox.  When I roll over in bed, he thinks I'm awake and begins a conversation......with me. LOL
I'm not getting my rest.  I know this sounds so selfish.  Even as I type this my head is shaking and I'm smiling.  Should I be complaining?  I love talking with him.
We had a very good friend of ours sadly lose her mom this week.  We had trouble deciding how Tony would pay his respects for our dear friend.  He needs to stay away from sick people and large crowds.  We cannot risk him catching a cold.  So we decided to have him attend the funeral mass and sit at the back.  It's difficult to stay away from people with colds and say, "no hugs please"  So much support with this.  It's amazing!
Back aches are only in the morning and as the morning routines are accomplished, his back loosens and he is able to do more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chemo Treatment #2

Today was our second Chemo treatment.  Blood levels are responding already to the chemo.  Good news!

We told the doctor today about his broken rib from last week and that it felt the same as the last time and she needs to confirm it.  So, off to X-ray we went.  Best to document this if it is true.  We'll find out next Tuesday if it's broken.  In the meantime, there's not much to do by way of caring for this injury except take those painkillers.  As I type, it's 10:10pm and still no nausea from chemo today.  We've noticed rapid weight loss over 4-5 days.  Voice is weak at times.  Leg cramping in bed was an issue last night.  Not sure if related to Chemo.  Doctor will let us know more on that next week.

After our visit to hospital, we decided he needs a hat to keep warm during these cold days.  The shopping we did was not good for his back.  I drove him home and he rested for the remainder of the day.  He's tired.

Oh, and I learned to give him a needle!!!!!  OMG!!!!  Those of you who know me KNOW, that I could NEVER do this!!!!   But I did.  Not sure if I enjoyed poking him or not?  Let me share with you how this came about.  Two weeks ago, the doctor told us that he needed this needle.  She sent me to the pharmacy to fill out the prescription.  At the pharmacy in the hospital, the pharmacist asked if we were on a health answer was nooooo, why? Well, one needle is $475.  He needs this injection once a week for 8 weeks.  $$$$$  The pharmacist explained that if home care administers it at the house, we would be covered.  So, with the doctors help we are covered.  BUT, because this needle doesn't go into your veins, they need to teach someone to do it.  So, tonight I learned. YIKES!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Something so simple and stupid at the same time

Yesterday, Tony had a doctor's appointment with a pain management specialist.
He continues to suffer with his back aching.  Has difficulty getting out of bed or sofa or chair.
Doctor is suggesting an MRI to rule out other possibilities not related to Multiple Myeloma.  That's scheduled for next week.
The something so simple and stupid.....well, while reaching over the driver's seat trying to get something on the floor in front of passenger seat, he put some weight on the console.  A padded console.  Well, guess what? we suspect he broke a rib :(
Might as well wait till Tuesday's appointment to get an x-ray and confirm that one!  Because he's on strong pain meds, he wasn't sure.  We waited for the pills to wear out and yup, the pain was there like the last time. Here we go again.....on the other side now.  He cannot sleep on his right or left side.  What happens when a man sleeps on his back?  Snoring.....I'm exhausted today!

Today, I drove him to work while I ran errands and whisked him away from the office after 5 hours at his desk.  

Still no ill effects from Chemo.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chemo - Day 1

Well, I think all the anxiety and the suspense and not knowing was worse than the actual treatment.
It's been 8 hours since treatment and no ill effects.  Tony feels great so far.

Today's visit involved blood work and then a consultation with the doctor.  She answered all of our questions and more.  She's wonderful.

Blood work showed that his hemoglobin was rising (85). We need that number higher.
Kidneys are functioning good.
No news on the foot x-ray, so I think it's not broken.  (We forgot to ask-no news is good news, right?)
She was happy with salt levels, so no IV hydration this week.  Must drink lots of water.  So if you run into him, make sure he has a glass of water in his hands and remind him to DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!

Tuesdays are Chemo treatment Days.
Two sets of pills and two needle injections.  Not bad....

FYI, if you plan on visiting or seeing Tony, please inform him if you're sick.  He cannot catch any colds or viruses as his immune system is weak.

Friday, November 16, 2012

First time back at work

Today, Tony is walking without his cane.  His hands are shaking----not sure why.  Need to ask the doctor on Tuesday.  Perhaps the meds?  Need to know...
We decided to have him make an appearance at the office for a couple of hours.  .  It was great seeing the staff and to personally thank them for all their support and hard work.  He didn't realize how much he missed  the office.  
This coming weekend we only have one more day of IV to hydrate.  Lots of relaxation to heal the ribs and sore back a bit more.  Hoping to go to work on Monday for more hours.
Overall, another good day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Feeling better

I finally caught up on this blog.  The dates are now current with my posts.

Today was a good day.  Tony is more mobile and able to get up with minimal assistance.  He's able to walk on his gout foot, ribs are healing, but his back is still aching.  His IV drip for hydration continues every day for about 6 hours at a time till Saturday.  Which means he's attached to a pole on wheels.  We're hoping to make an appearance at work tomorrow afternoon.  (Just because he's not at the office doesn't mean he's  not working from home-LOL)  Looking forward to seeing everyone at work.  BTW, thanks to the staff for your lovely card and good wishes.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Second attempt for Chemo

Tuesdays are chemo day for Tony.  We are ready for this.  Appointment is for 10am.
However, due to Remembrance day, things get delayed.....Aren't hospitals open 24/7 ?  Don't get that.
To add to this delay, last week we went to Princess Margaret to hear them out about a study for this type of condition.  After reviewing Tony's records, he didn't qualify.  His kidneys are functioning normally and they are looking for patients having difficulties with them.  So, the positive spin---he's too healthy for this study.  I'll take that!  We are offered the same treatment that Humber River offers.  Same drugs.  We decided to stay with Humber River rather than drive to Downtown Toronto.  So due to communication to oncologist and Remembrance Day....chemo is delayed, again.

Also, because this condition makes your bones brittle, risking fractures is high.  So, to confirm Tony's sore foot is in fact gout and not a breakage, Dr orders another X-ray.....We get to X-ray department and are greeted on a first name basis.....they know him!  That's scary.  Four x-rays in 8 days! WHOA!
We are still waiting on those results....

So, until he gets more mobile and the daily IV saline drips stop, then we hope he can get back to work.

Gout? Now? Really? R U Kidding me!

Friday, November 9th, he is starting to feel that gout feeling in his toe.  By morning his entire foot was throbbing.  He's able to put minimal weight on his foot, walking with assistance.  As the weekend progresses, so does the gout.  By Sunday evening, it take 30 minutes to walk from the couch, up the stairs and to bed.  OMG.  Humber River oncologist says, go see your family doctor.  Well, he is unable to walk inside, how do I get him to the family doctor?  So I phoned our pharmacist.  He has a history of his meds.  He recommends one advil to combat the inflamation caused by gout.  YEAH!!!!!  It worked.  As our Monday progresses, Tony becomes more mobile.  Whew.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Second scare

Early morning of November 7th, Tony felt warm to the touch.  He went to work and was unable to breath and talk normally.  Went home early.  His temperature kept rising and he was suppressing a cough to avoid pain in the chest.   Off to Humber River emergency again.
Another x-ray showed no pneumonia.  Blood work was okay.  They gave Tony morphine and antibiotics and Tylenol and again, saline with IV.  The doctor decided to keep him overnight.  
We had an appointment anyways at Humber River the next day, which was great.  So, from emergency to upstairs doctors office.  His doctor is wonderful.  She even came to visit us in emergency.  I felt like hugging her!!!!  With her visit she delivered the news.....two fractured ribs!  No wonder he couldn't breath or cough.  He was in such pain!!!!!  This disease effects your bones.  They are brittle and can break easily.  So, pain killer pills for Tony. ASAP!!!!!  Chemo was to begin that day but due to fever, it has been delayed till he gets better.  We were sent home with Home Care to begin four days of IV saline.....

First scare

On November 5th, while at work, Tony collapsed to the ground.  911 was called and they took him to emergency.  It was scary not knowing why.

- X-rays showed no pneumonia.
- Hemoglobin was in the 90's.
- Sore left knee from landing on the ground.
- Salt levels were very low, so they gave him saline by IV.  That's why he fainted......dehydration.

His out take was much more than his in between the lines.  LOL

The good news

Research has been able to increase both our understanding of the genetics of myeloma and the underlying disease process.  This has resulted in the development of new approaches to treating myeloma and new therapies.

Although there is still no absolute "cure" for myeloma, a growing number of patients with active myeloma are living ten or more years after diagnosis.  We are also getting better at treating the complications of myeloma, giving people with the disease the best possible quality of life for the longest time possible.
(all of the above taken from the "Multiple Myeloma Patient Handbook" published 2007)

So, here's how we look at it----ten years from now, research and treatment can only be better!

Day 1

Routine blood work showed low hemoglobin levels which initiated a slew of tests.  On Tuesday, October 31, 2012, Tony was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. The bone marrow test confirmed this diagnosis.   On this visit a blood transfusion was done immediately.  Normal hemoglobin levels for men are between 130-180 and Tony was at 63.

This day was the most difficult and shocking day of all.
How do you tell his mother?  His sister? His children?
Life as we knew it, changed.

That night, at home, we did our research online and read hospital literature to check out everything and anything about Multiple Myeloma.  Knowledge is power, right?

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells.  Plasma cells are found in the bone marrow, the hollow area within the bones.  Because plasma cells are found in the blood, myeloma is referred to as a blood cancer. The word "multiple" is often used because the malignant cells usually affect multiple areas of the bone marrow.