When everything was expertly packed into our mini-van,, Karen would describe it as crammed, we left the sweltering Ozarks and arrived in Little Rock roughly 4 hours later - just in time for the girls to swim in the hotel pool. I didn't swim because ...uh...Velcade, Revlimid, and Dex don't mix with blistering sun. Right? Even if they do, don't tell Karen. This astute reasoning has gotten me out of push mowing my several acre lawn all summer. That and vertebral compression fractures. Why I didn’t think of Myeloma 15 years ago, I'll never know!
Little Rock, AR I arrived for appointments at UAMS's Myeloma Institute for Research & Therapy (MIRT) on Wednesday morning where I underwent comprehensive blood tests, a full body MRI, and a bone biopsy with bone marrow aspiration, my 10th or so. The goal was to see what the last 3 months of maintenance therapy had done for me or to me.
Because the highly specialized MRI machine that I was assigned was needed by a critically ill patient, I was asked to come back later that evening for a second MRI session to complete the ‘DWIBBS’ portion of the imaging test.
I thought that I was being asked to come back later when the 'dweebs' get MRIs. A 'dweeb' is an American (I suppose) colloquial term for a geek or a nerd. I admire those very bright, go-get-‘em MRI techs, but why do they have to go and insult a sensitive patient like me? Clearing up the confusion, I learned that DWIBBS stands for Diffusion Weighted Imaging with Background Body Signal Suppression of the whole-body. Oh, DWIBBS! Why didn't they just say so? Go ahead and DWIBB this dweeb!
Please go to www.heifer.org to see the tremendous work Heifer is doing. BTW, their corporate building is known as one of the 'greenest' office complexes on the planet.
One of the highlights of the trip happened Friday morning when had the pleasure of an all-too-brief visit with fellow MM blogger, Lina S. of www.lsmyeloma.blogspot.com/ . Lina is in her last consolidation chemo round at UAMS before heading home. I happened to catch her pre-neutropenic and in great spirits. I must tell you, it was inspiring to meet Lina and her mother. Both vibrant, bright, beautiful, take-charge MM warriors. I wish the Lina Team the very best that life has to bring.
Later that morning Karen and I met with Dr. Bijay Nair to discuss my test & procedure results. I can't begin to tell you how much we like Dr. Nair and Dr. Barlogie, MIRT’s founder. I will certainly do this in a future post, as I feel a well deserved S'Myeloma Award coming on!
Test Results Drum roll please! I’m grateful to report that the results show that there is no evidence of plasma cell Myeloma in my bone marrow aspirate and biopsy. Serum and Urine Immunofixation results relate that I'm still in remission, in complete response. Thanks to my entire team at UAMS and thank you God for giving me yet more time to wreak havoc and try the patience of those around me. It is good to have purpose!
Texas! After Friday’s appointment, we hopped into the mini-van and drove from Little Rock to Georgetown, TX to grab a hotel for a good night's sleep. We arose early in the morning and traveled the short distance to the Texas state capitol in Austin. After an impressive tour of the Capitol building, we got on the highway to continue our journey south to San Antonio.
On Sunday we drove to D & R's beautiful home and then headed to downtown San Antonio for some fun. We ate at a bustling Tex-Mex cafe on the River Walk, did some window shopping, toured the famed Alamo Mission (very interesting) and then bee-lined over to Sea World San Antonio.
Doug, Sea World’s V.P. of Entertainment, guided us to some of the park’s popular evening shows. Karen, Katie and Liz had never been to a Sea World before and they were absolutely mesmerized by the love and care the trainers and staff had for the whales, otters, sea lions, walruses, penguins, dolphins and the other beautiful creatures. Many of these particular animals can't thrive in the wild and, contrary to what some would have you believe, they are exceedingly well cared for at this world-class venue. The educational outreach is second to none.
On Monday, Rita took my 13 year old, Katie, shopping and then we rendezvoused back at Sea World for a couple of more hours of fun. For dinner we gorged ourselves at the casual eatery Rudy's, branded as the Worst Bar-B-Que in Texas. Rudy's was HIGH on the exhilaration scale, by the way! Good food! Then back to the hotel for the evening for more conversation, swimming and relaxation before saying our goodbyes.
I want to share that Doug and Rita's small family has endured several monumental health challenges with great courage and faith through the years. Spectacular family, fantastic kids, positive, active people. Their friendship is one of our most treasured gifts. It was healing to be with them.
Bright and early on Tuesday morning we said goodbye to Texas and began our 15 hour drive home to Missouri. Back to maintenance chemo, back to school, back to life with re-charged batteries.
Hope that you out there in Myelomaville have had some fun this summer. I'm thinking about and praying for you all! Keep fighting!