Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy re-Birthday to Me!

It's my re-Birthday today. I got my stem cells this morning. I had to sit in the clinic all day, mostly for hydration. I have pretty low energy today, which will probably continue to get worse, but all considering, it's going pretty good. Yesterday, my doctor's and nurses said that it was hard to believe that I was only one day away from a transplant. So on average, I'm doing well.

For my re-Birthday, I got a motorcycle helmet from Tristan. (well, it was actually for all the help I've given him on finding and fixing his new bike) Ma and Pa also got me a card.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

International Pirate Day - April 22

Ahoy me skirvy mates! Today be International Pirate Day. You all must do a bit of pillaging, and drink some rum for your mate Whilley Jim Jim as he can't.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Drug Cocktail

You wouldn't believe the number of medicine bottles I have on my table right now. It's crazy. It takes 20 minutes just to sort out three days worth of meds. It's crazy. There are over 20 bottles, with a total of 15 different pills each day. The heavy stuff starts tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Transplant Next Week!

I just wanted to clear some things up here. I think I've mentioned this before, but I'll give a more through explanation of what a stem cell transplant is, and why it's not the thing that George 'Dubya' Bush and his cronies are trying to outlaw research on (although this doesn't make outlawing research on it okay).

The treatment that I will begin is a few days, called a Autologous Stem Cell Transplant, is a more modern term for the bone marrow transplants that Fred Hutch helped develop a couple decades ago. What happens in these types of treatments is that high does chemo and/or radiation is needed to kill every last remaining cancer cell, but chemo at these high doses also starts killing other healthy cells. The first healthy cells to go are the blood producing cells in the bone marrow. Everyone naturally produces a type of stem cell that has the ability to turn into any type of blood cell. Red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells are among the most important. Next to go are other rapidly reproducing cells like hair, and mucous membranes. After chemo, the body is left unable to produce any of the different blood cells, and the bone marrow must be rescued.

There are two main ways to do this. They can either take closely matching bone marrow from a donor, or take it from the person needing the transplant to be frozen and used later for the rescue. The second is the Autologous transplant that I'm having.

I began my latest treatment in January, with two three week cycles of chemo.
This served two purposes; to get my cancer back into remission, and to stimulate stem cell growth. From what I understand, the immune system has to be first suppressed, then stimulated to get it to produce the needed stem cells, and get them to enter the blood stream before they've had a chance to morph into other cell types. The goal for me was to gather about 5 million stem cells, which was expected to take a few days, especially when the test the day before my collection revealed fairly low counts. The next day however, I kicked ass, and blood test revealed much higher counts. I went into the apheresis unit (with machines like a kidney dialysis machine) for 4 hours, and was able to collect just over 10 million stem cells.

So here I am now. The Docs just got finished deciding what they wanted to do with me. Before, I said on various profiles that I was a research dummy. Now I really am. I've signed up to be part of a few research studies and have blood and various other bits of me frozen and stored so that researchers can analyze it and see what's wrong with me.

What the Docs have decided is to use a set of three drugs, Busulfan in pill form, and Melphalan and Thiotepa by IV. All three suck. None are good for you, and all have potential long term side effects, but it's what I have to do.

I get Busulfan on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Melphalan on Wednesday and Thursday, and Thiotepa on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a day off, and probably about when the suffering begins. Monday, I receive my stem cells back, and that's it.

Except that I have to recover. That will take about a month? May require a short hospital stay, and will be really sucky. I know about what to expect, but I'll get to that stuff as it comes.

I hope it all makes sense. The most misunderstood part is that it's not actually the transplant the cures the cancer, it's the drugs that necessitate the transplant. Interestingly though, a transplant does 'reset' the immune system, which is useful in autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks it's own good cells, and it also seems to have the potential to cure type one diabetes.

I also hope you understand why this isn't a 'controversial new treatment' as I've heard it called. But this doesn't mean that the type of stem cell treatment that Bush and his cronies are talking about doesn't have the potential to help me as well. Treatments from the work that California is funding, and the US government should fund as well, could very well save the life of myself and others in the future.

I guess my apartment warming party will have to wait. It's probably going to turn into an apartment cooling party. I can have visitors as long as you're clean and not sick, so please, don't be afraid to come visit me. I'm at 225 32nd Ave E, Seattle, but give me a call (253-691-1440) before you come :-)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I DO have Medicaid now!

Last thursday, right after I got the medicaid papers in the mail, I called the housing coordinator at SCCA, and she contacted her people, who contacted their people, who contacted me on Friday, and I now have an apartment!

Amazingly, it's a 3 bedroom, fully furnished apartment in Magnolia, close to a couple neighborhood caffes and other shops, fairly close to a Safeway, Trader Joe's, a food coop, and Grocery Outlet. The apartment has a big screen TV, and a smaller flatscreen TV in my room, a gas fireplace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, big new side by side fridge, gas stove, and includes, linens, dishes, baking and cooking hardware, and even a few condiments. I have to supply it with food, soap, diswasher detergent and washer degergent, and that's about it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I think I really do have Medicaid now

I just got a bunch of stuff in the mail from DSHS explaining my benefits, but without actually giving me any explanation. I really don't know what it says, but included with it is a Medicaid card. So I guess I'm covered now. I'll call about an apartment in Seattle tomorrow and see what happens.

Bike for Tristan

Bike for Tristan

I've been helping two friends, Nick and Tristan with bike shopping for the last few weeks. Nick doesn't have his license yet, so he's not looking as hard, but Tristan got his license last year, so he's been really looking for a bike now that the weather will start getting nice. Since I've been home a lot, I've had a lot of time to keep my eye on Craigslist. Two weeks ago, Tristan and I found a really nice bike in Centrailia, but due to a retarted misunderstanding, it had already been spoken for when we got there.

A couple days later, we found a Triumph Bonneville advertized for $700. It turned out that an old guy's daughter had put it up for sale without researching what the bike's value was. So he was really looking at getting around $1200 to $1500 for it. It was probably worth it, and had a lot of potential, but the amount of time and money to get it on the road was too much for Tristan.

So when I got home today, I found an ad on Criagslist for a Yamaha XS750 Triple, with a picture of a nearly perfect bike, for only $400. It was posted at 4:15, and I was calling at 6:00, usually more than enough time for something that looks that good to sell. It was in Bellignham, with a clear title, and he said he'd deliver. Really too good to be true. So I called, he still had it, it really was $400, and it really did look that good. Really too good to be true.

Now Tristan it a bit hard to get ahold of when you really need to. He has a cell phone, but it doesn't really do much. It's a Sweedish prepaid phone that he can't make calls with, and can only text certian people with. So I sent a bunch of emails to him, called his sister, emailed his sister, texted his sister, and finally got a call from him and agreed to meet in Seattle.

As soon as my dad got home, I left to pick up Tristan and head to Bellingham. We got there at 9pm, and the bike was perfect. Really. Only one really small scratch on the tank that can eaisly be polished out, a tiny dent on a fender, and a small scratch near the seat trim. For a bike that's almost 30 years old. The owner is a college kid from a very well off family, who can afford to buy a new bike and sell his old one for next to nothing. He knew it was nice, and I think he just wanted to see the person that it went to to make sure they'd take care of it. He kept saying "don't drop it, take care of it". Really really crazy.

So Tristan and I are going to do a bit of work on it on Friday to get it back on the road. It really wont need much. Until then, here are some pictures right after we got it home. It's going to live at my house until Tristan trusts himself enough to ride it.

Nick, you're next!

Tristan's Bike