Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Continuing to feel better

Last week I saw Dr. Schweitzer, the ENT.  I'm pretty sure it was a fungal infection, and that the guess of fluconozole was right, b/c it was pretty much gone by the time I saw her.  Nevertheless, we had a productive talk about some of my other ENT issues.  Her theory is that it's allergies.  While not quite as dramatic as with a bone marrow transplant, my immune system has been pretty wiped out and is largely rebuilding itself, and even if I didn't have any allergies before, I could have them now.  As far as why have they been going on for so long (more than half a year), even with changing seasons, there are tons of things one can be allergic to, and they're not all seasonally dependent.  As far as why they've still been bothering me even when going away to different places with different climates for the weekend, she feels that's not long enough to get any kind of recovery.  She's got me trying a nasal antihistimine, on the theory that if it helps, it's probably allergies, and then we can decide what to do next, possibly go to an allergist.  I'm also taking this coctail of various medicines (the "magic mouthwash") that I had when I was in the hospital last time and was having so much trouble swallowing.  Now I'm just taking it before bed, to try to coat my throat and help with the sore throat I've been having in the morning.  It's been almost a week now, and while I won't say that I feel completely normal, I think I am definitely improved.

On Thursday I went in for my weekly blood work, and I'm now back to essentially normal, in the same way that I was before, before things went bad the most recent time.  The only thing I have out of range is a slightly elevated RDW (same as before), which is the distribution in size of red blood cells.  Which basically on its own means nothing.

And I'm feeling much better overall.  I don't think I realized it at the time, but when my white blood count was down I was significantly worn down.  It's only in retrospect, after the fact, now that I'm feeling better, that I can appreciate how un-normal I had been feeling.

I'm still a little afraid of trying yoga again, but I have been biking some more again.  (The beautiful weather we've been having has helped.)  On Saturday I biked Dylan down to the marina (and back, of course), for the Berkeley Bay Festival.  It took some effort pulling him along (he's about 30 pounds now, so with the trailer that's pulling about 55 pounds), but I did okay.

I've also started going into the office again.  I'm not sure exactly what my schedule will be, still probably some working from home.  I am craving some level of returning to normalcy, though, my white counts are back up, and I think we're pretty much past flu season.  (Google flu trends certainly shows a big change, for whatever that's worth.)  I even biked to work today, which felt great.  I do notice that if I take the stairs up to the office (we're on the 6th floor), it's a lot more effort for me than it used to be.  Something to work on, I guess.

On Monday Lorien and I went into SF to meet with Garrett Smith, an oncologist I've been considering switching to.  It was a fairly productive meeting.  At the very least, I appreciate the fact that he was willing to sit down with us for an extended period of time, talk to us, listen to us, and answer our questions in a manner that felt relaxing and not rushed.  I don't think I've ever had such an uninterrupted conversation with either Dr. Wexler (my current oncologist), or Dr. Cecchi (my original oncologist).  I'll list a few key points that I took away from our meeting.  What I'm going through isn't all that surprising and is not unexpected based on the treatment that I've had.  If we do nothing, he thinks I'll probably get better on my own, but there are things we can do to help the recovery.  We're first trying a new medication to indirectly address some of the GI issues by helping my body recover faster.  He also seconded Dr. Wexler's theory (that I had been skeptical of) that the supplement that I was taking, as an anti-inflammatory, could have been the cause of my WBC drop, and he doesn't think I should return to taking it.  Finally, I now have a third opinion that based on my diagnosis, that my course of treatment was the proper one, and it's exactly what he would have recommended.

So that's where I am now.  I'm in general in a good mood and trying to be optimistic about the future, and Lorien and I are starting to discuss possible travel plans for a much needed vacation.  Although I'm still a little apprehensive, since I've had periods of optimism and feeling good before, only to have things get bad again.  So I'm trying to be realistic, but I am hopeful.  For now I'm going to continue with frequent blood work, probably up until my next scan towards the end of May.  But I'm hopeful that if things continue to look good up until then, and that if the scan looks good, that I can then cut back to much less frequent interactions with the medical establishment.

1 comment:

Vive said...

What a relief that this is all part of the general recovery! So glad you talked to that third guy -- and so, so glad that you're feeling better!!