Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Plan

Over the past few days, we've heard from the oncologists about chromosomes, chromosome translocution, FISH (don't ask me to explain that one. This is where I fell asleep during the lecture), platelets, and a lot of other terms that still haven't give me the answer to "why?"

But I do understand the basic gist of what's wrong, and will understand it much better by the time I break outta here. My bone marrow is creating too many immature white blood cells.  These cells crowd out my ability to create healthy white and red blood cells, causing clotting problems and a risk for bleeding out. 

The treatment course is as follows:

- Last Thursday I received my first transfusions to help with the clotting condition. I also began the more benign of my two chemotherapy drugs-- ATRA, which is a high dose of Vitamin A that spurs the immature white blood cells in the blood to mature. It gave me crushing headaches at first, but now I am used to it.

- Today I begin the heavier chemotherapy drug-- Idarubicin, which wipes out the cells in the bone marrow that are pushing out the immature white blood cells. It also wipes out all the normal blood cells in the marrow, so I will become increasingly fatigued and my immune system will be more compromised. There will be four doses administered via IV over the next seven days.

- Then I will be monitored here over the following three to four weeks. Daily my blood is tested. Three times thus far I've had low fibrinogen (clotting component) levels so have needed cryoprecipitate infusions. They will keep watching this.

- Once I leave here, I will need to return daily for outpatient arsenic treatments for three months.

- And finally, I will be taking the Vitamin A for two years.

I was supposed to start the Idarubicin last night, but after the nurses tried over the course of three hours to find a vein in my arms that hadn't already been punctured from prior IVs and blood tests, they gave up. They were hoping to put a central line in me this morning, but that was nixed as being too dangerous for a Leukemia patient this early in treatment (because of bleeding out risk). Luckily, they were able to get an IV in me this morning, and now we're just waiting for the pharmacy to deliver the Idarubicin and anti-nausea medicine.

It just arrived. Let's get this party started!