Monday, July 26, 2010

Infusion 10/12 - Bleo toxicity update and silly pictures from the hospital

Good afternoon, happy blog readers! Today your intrepid cancer patient and blogger is in for infusion 10/12. As I've frequently done in the past, here's a silly photo documenting the event:

Maybe the crazy look is somewhat driven by the 80 mg of prednisone love I'm driving to clear up the junk in my lungs. Or maybe just wanted to spice up the picture gallery a bit.

Ok, more news on the lung poisoning front. We had a good session with the oncologist and looked at CAT scan pictures from late June (when I had the initial issues) and last Saturday night. Even to the untrained eye you can definitely see some changes in both upper lobes of my lungs. Little horizontal white lines show up indicating that there is some new (and bad) structures in my lung. Given that all the cultures they took came back negative, the default diagnosis is interstitial pneumonitis caused by Bleomycin poisoning. There are a couple of good things going in my favor that suggest I may have a good resolution:
  • The total dose of bleo I got is relatively low (120 units ) compared to the threshold where they typically see bleo toxicity show up (> 200 units)
  • My lungs sound very clear
  • Although statistics vary on complete recovery, my oncologist has had all his patients with bleo poisoning recover full pulmonary function. So hopefully I won't be an exception to that rule!
So, no more bleo, but eight weeks of prednisone. The prednisone does do some things that reduces your immune system function but it also does boost your white blood cells. So before I had a WBC count of 1900 and it's now 9000. Woo-hoo! I can go swim in sewers without concern of getting an infection. Well, probably not a good idea but I'm happy to look for any silver lining.

In terms of recovering from the pulmonary basement I'm now visiting, it's mostly a wait and get better model. However, I am cleared to climb stairs as a way of improving my gas diffusion coefficient (the ability of my lungs to get air into the lung tissue). So I envision a lot of stair climbing in my immediate future! You know me - anything that involves hard work to get better at something is right up my alley.

Finally, here's another silly picture of Caitlyn and I at the hospital. When I was in there my white blood cell count was low enough that I had to wear a mask when I was out in the hallways - to protect me from all the little bugs running around the hospital. I spent a couple of hours a day hooked up to an infuser getting a big dose of antibiotics so I named the infuser Irv. So here is Irv, Caitlyn and I cruising the hallways building up strength and working to get back to health:

Well, that's it for now. Hopefully without the bleo this session will be unremarkable and we'll have a calm week. We're definitely ready for a little less excitement on the medical front!


  1. Wow! Haven't read the blog for awhile so missed all of the action! So glad to hear you're feeling better and home from the hospital (yes, the nurses are great but...) Hang in there - you're nearing the end!!!

    We're all pulling for you!
    Dave, Shirley & Tanya

  2. yeah, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. Just finished a power walk, working to get my lung diffusion back. Got a bunch of work in front of me but hopefully the steroids, lots of pulmonary work, rest, love and support will get me back to full health!

  3. Well, if anyone can beat this lung thing, it will be you. And even if there is some residual effect, I'm guessing it will only slow you down to mere mortal speed! (This is the advantage of being a superman under normal circumstances.) Stay strong and rest up.

  4. "You're upright and breathing oxygen. Today is a good day!" (That's the correct phrase.) Most certainly BTBD. The end is in sight. We continue steadfastly in prayer. It was great to be out in Boulder and visit you and the family for some great vegan food and conversation. May the Great-Universal-Force-For-Good be with you always as you near the finish line. Peace and blessings always!

  5. I am glad to hear you are through that major bumppy stretch. Keep up the healing!!

  6. Good job with the healing! Sending you good healing juju from the mineral springs at Ojo Caliente. Also, Red Rocks is a great place for early morning very scenic whatever pace you can manage for your recovery. Love you and see you Thursday!