Monday, July 15, 2013

Something Lawyerly Pays Off and a Word from Our Jeff

Team Miner:

Here at Chez Miner, we often talk up the amazing awesomeness of science to Stella. Our hope is that she and her little sister come to love science and veer away from, say, history and/or the law and towards something more scientific - like physics or chemistry or medicine - for their careers. We want humanistically-inclined engineers, not humanists. Think Robert Oppenheimer without the morally-questionable scientific achievements.

For all the scientific glorification that we engage in daily, today some of my legal training paid off in a surprisingly medical context. This afternoon we had an appointment with Jeff's oncologist. More on that in a minute. While we were waiting to meet with her, Jeff took a look at his medical charts online and found a new set of test results. The results initially looked alarming and caused him some concern about cytotoxicity and other scary sounding things. Jeff, I think, didn't want to freak *me* out, so he quietly researched these terms on his iPad while I walked around with Lydia snoozing in the Ergo until I sat down and saw what he was doing.

And - victory for me - being an anal litigator causes me to read most everything carefully and to read  documents in their entirety.  Especially medical records. So, I had already caught sight of these terms when I had read previous lab results and knew that they were nothing new. We confirmed that everything was ok with the doctor anyway - the results are from chemo and Neulasta - and I thanked my litigious (?) self for being (annoyingly) detail-oriented.

Now for the scoop on Jeff - written by... none other than the man himself. Take it away Jeff…

So far, everything is proceeding on schedule, and my body appears to be fairly resilient under the pressure of chemo. We have finished three rounds, and after each one (to date) I have received a dose escalation, meaning they haven't yet found the point at which the poison they're giving me totally wrecks my immune system. So I get more. If all goes well, the schedule for the rest of treatment looks about like this:
1. Round four of chemo to begin on Thursday and ending with a spinal tap to put chemo directly on my brain soothing spinal infusion.
2. A PET scan in early August before Round five of chemo that will hopefully come back negative for cancer activity - not no cancer, just no cancer big enough to detect with the scan
3. Two more rounds of chemo, whether or not the PET is negative, but no more soothing spinal infusions (rats!)
4. Two infusions of high-dose methotrexate, each lasting 4 days and occurring every two weeks

This last prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box was a new one today. The doctor had mentioned high-dose methotrexate, but had neglected to mention that it meant more hospital stays - effectively two extra rounds of chemo, which means that at the earliest I will be done in late September. If things aren't going as well...  well, things will go well, so we will cross that bridge when we come to it never cross that bridge, and so not discuss it. Irrational optimism. The doctor seems confident, and clearly has a plan for the next steps, but doesn't want to get into too many hypotheticals about what might or might not happen. Fair enough.

In more touchy-feely news, this last cycle was harder than the previous, largely because it's starting to get monotonous. There is little left to learn and few or no surprises about the hospital stay, my symptoms, or my treatment. This is good, I suppose, but I like learning things, and there is little new to engage my curiosity in the process at this point, just the same old horse pills, annoying symptoms and dull, unstructured hospital time punctuated by nurse's visits. Have I mentioned that they wake me twice to do my vital signs (breathing, heart rate, etc) during the night, every single night? It is a sign of how low my expectations are that I am grateful that they do this only every 4 hours instead of every two as they did on my first admission.

The girls are doing great, Katina is amazing, and we're keeping it together for the most part. Hopefully that will continue to be the case, although if my eyebrows fall out I may totally lose it, because people without eyebrows look kind of freaky.


Vedrana Balta said...

You guys are amazing. We are thinking of you and sending you love. Looking forward to seeing you in a little over a month!

Mrs Snoopy JD said...

Hi Katina! With your guidance, encouragement, and support, I know that Stella and Lydia will become the Marie Curie/Rachel Carson/Maria Goeppert-Mayer of their generation. And it's great to hear that all of your experience as a researcher/investigator/nitpicker extraordinaire is paying off in reviewing all of the ridiculously complex medical documents that you must be swimming in right now.

Hi Jeff! I'm so glad to hear that you've triumphed over another round of "soothing spinal infusions." I'm not sure what you mean by saying that people without eyebrows look freaky--I think Marilyn Manson looks totally normal. :) In any case, if your eyebrows do happen to go on vacation, you can always do what my mom did, and have them tattooed on (no joke). I am joining you in your irrational optimism and am praying that you will be done in September.

dirteens said...

VB - we cannot wait to see you! Looking forward to it.

And Snoops, I will note that despite my "eagle eye," I missed that the pathologists confirmed that Jeff is indeed male, has XY chromosomes. His sister noticed that novel finding in reading the records. Pretty hilarious.

Also, Jeff found this: