Tag Archives: zometa

The test that was right that was wrong that was right

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
―     Rainer Maria Rilke

monet garden

When I got back from Paris a week last Friday on the Eurostar trip with my parents to see Monet’s garden, amongst my post was an odd letter from the Haematology department saying my appointment with the consultant had been cancelled and that an appointment had been arranged for Friday 17th May instead at 12pm. By the time I got the letter it was too late to ring them to say I had only just got back so it had to wait until Monday. I didn’t really worry about it but rang on Monday and spoke to the appointment secretary and explained that I had been away and unable to attend. I asked why it had been brought forward and was told something like the doctor was trying to clear down his list for 31 May when my appointment had been scheduled for.  It was rearranged for 24 May.

I duly attended, expecting to discuss the erroneous test result (see my last posts, falling off the plateau  and back on the plateau ) and perhaps to have another discussion about what treatment I might have when I do relapse bearing in mind that my kappa light chains were only 117 mg/litre, there was no immediate concerns.  I had the last appointment and when I arrived clinic was extremely busy but as I was having Zometa  (a bone strengthening treatment) as well, I went to the day unit for my bloods to be taken and my kidney function tested as usual. I had Zometa at about 3pm and still hadn’t seen my consultant but as I was leaving the day unit I bumped into him and the haematology specialist nurse as they were coming to find me. Seeing the nurse there as well made me feel slightly anxious as she doesn’t normally sit in on my appointments. We went into his consulting room and he then told me that unfortunately the first test showing the massive rise in my light chains to 617 mg/litre was in fact correct and it was the retest that was wrong. I was completely stunned. He said that both tests had been retested several times and that it was confirmed. The lab were unable to give any explanation as to how they got the retest result so wrong.

My consultant said on that basis I was now relapsing and we needed to sort out a treatment plan pretty quickly. We discussed different options but my head was in a complete spin and I couldn’t really concentrate on what he was saying. I am to ring up in a few days time to find out the result of the light chain test taken on Friday and if my kappa light chains are over 1000, I have to make an urgent appointment to see my consultant and have my kidney function tested which is a big concern and possibly start treatment straight away. If they are less than 1000 I will see him on 14 June by which time a trial may be available which might be a good option for me. So unless by some bizarre chance my light chain test this time shows a massive reduction in my light chains, I will be starting treatment very soon and all my plans of doing the triathlon in August and a couple of holidays in September will be out of the window.

After the appointment, I was in shock and disbelief.  It felt a little surreal. I debated whether to go to a friend’s 60th birthday meal that evening but I did and it was fine but that night I couldn’t sleep and the following morning I was low and tearful and was thinking of putting off my friends visit to me for the weekend that thinking that my mood would be so low I wouldn’t want to see them.  I went to my outdoor fitness session in the local park hoping that it would raise my serotonin levels but it didn’t really have that effect, instead I was worrying about whether too much exercise would be stressing my body!

My friends arrived, it was a lovely day, I told them the bad news and by the afternoon my mood had completely lifted and I was dancing to salsa music round the kitchen and the garden whilst making dinner. I am still feeling okay, after all I am in no worse position than I was when I found out that my light chains had risen to 617 on 19 April. I adjusted to that after the initial shock and disappointment, then had the elation of finding out that test was supposedly wrong, had cocktails on my birthday with friends, went to London and then Paris in a celebratory mood ( I probably wouldn’t have gone if I had known my light chains were over 600). Monet’s garden was truly beautiful (aside from the drama of my mother falling over and breaking her wrist) and Paris was well Paris, the city of light!

It is a cliché, but life at the moment is truly like being on a roller coaster!

coaster

In fact dealing with the emotional effects of having myeloma is far more challenging than the physical effects at least for me so far. It has truly been a mind blowing experience. How I can go from feeling so desperately low and alone on Saturday morning to happy and elated by late afternoon is just as strange as the recent sequence of test results.

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Filed under Cancer, chemotherapy treatment, Health, Life and death, Multiple Myeloma, Myeloma, Relapse, Remission

Falling off the plateau

It seems that I have fallen off the plateau that I had made my temporary home for the last few months before the descent into relapse.   Just as I was settling in and adjusting to my new territory,  I have yet again been reined in by my rising kappa light chains which have jumped rather dramatically from 77 mg/litre to 617 mg/litre in the space of a month.

Plateau

I didn’t stay at plateau point very long but it was great whilst it lasted!

Needless to say I was as disappointed and surprised as my consultant who arranged for me to have a retest last week to see if the jump is for real or some kind of freaky fluke.  There is an outside chance at most that there could have been a massive error in the lab testing but I am not holding my breath and I am not praying for a miracle or some such thing.

I mentioned in a previous post (Hello Relapse Goodbye Remission Part 2 The Calm after the Storm) that my consultant said as long as my light chains weren’t above 600mg/litre I could go to India. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go before the steep rise to 617 this last month.

So the plateau was short, January to April, to be precise, but I had adapted to the new phase of my disease and the fact that I was no longer in remission fairly quickly, once over the initial shock of relapse.  I was hoping that this phase might last until September, which would be two years post stem cell transplant, a respectable period of time.  I became comfortable with the new normal for me and was off again planning and booking trips, playing matches for the ladies team at my tennis club and starting a 16 week training plan for the Salford Triathlon in August.  This was on the premise that I would not be on treatment and my light chains would remain in the bracket of around 70 to 90.

And now I am back to not knowing what I can do when.  I feel like I get slapped down by my disease whenever I start taking things for granted.  Logically I know that my myeloma isn’t capable of such vindictive behaviour, it doesn’t have a personality, being just some cancer cells doing their thing, so if I get into slapping them back we are entering into battleground territory and you will see from a previous post (Hello Relapse Goodbye Remission) that I am not battling my disease.  However I do feel a little like Humpty Dumpty at the moment, getting to the top of the wall, balancing there a while, happy, and then falling off except that hopefully as I am not an egg, I can be put back together again!

Humpty_falls

I expect to be starting chemotherapy treatment soon after 20 months of being drug free since my stem cell transplant, apart from the monthly infusion of Zometa, a bone strengthening treatment. I am dreading it and my head is spinning with the various options that are on the cards. It is good that there are options, but options mean choices and I really don’t know how I am going to decide between them… but more of that another time!

This is likely to be my last post for some time with the blog subtitle “living in remission”.  Of course I am hoping to achieve remission or stable disease at some point in the future but I am conscious that the remission I have enjoyed may not be as long again. Unfortunately the law of diminishing returns usually applies to a second stem cell transplant if that is what I decide to have so that I may only get one half to two thirds of my first remission.

Whilst the past 20 months have not been easy, they have generally been good. I have been able to live life well with no health issues and no pain unlike some with Myeloma. I want to appreciate and celebrate what I have done whilst being at the top of the mountain so to speak since from my stem cell transplant on 1 September 2011 and then latterly on the plateau.  In more or less chronological order some of the highlights are:-

  • cycling along the Monsal trail in the Peak District one fine autumnal day
  • long weekends in London, Dublin and Alicante
  •  starting my blog
  • a holiday to Tenerife
  • seeing the Northern Lights and going dog sledding in Sweden
  • playing the piano again
  • a stay in Palma, Majorca
  • running the Manchester 10k
  •  a holiday to Lake Maggiore and Switzerland
  • a trip to Oxfordshire and Somerset
  • joining an outdoor fitness class
  • giving a patient experience talk at Myeloma UK info day
  • a tennis holiday in Corfu
  • a trip to Tromso, Norway to see the northern lights and go dog sledding (P)
  • seeing a wild tiger whilst on holiday in India (P)
  • playing (albeit badly )in a tennis tournament (P)
  • training for a triathlon (P) (R)
  • finally and hopefully going to Paris on Eurostar, to see Monet’s garden at Givernay (R)

Those marked P indicate done whilst plateauing

Those marked R indicate doing whilst relapsed!

Thanks to everyone that I shared some of these things with and those that supported me and encouraged me to do them.

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Filed under Cancer, Health, Life and death, Multiple Myeloma, Myeloma, Relapse, Remission, Stem cell transplant, Travel, Uncategorized

From the Run to the Runs

 

Nearly three weeks after the elation of running the 10k and about a week after I got back from a holiday in Italy,  I got a very bad episode of sickness and diarrhoea. Oh the highs and the lows.

No one I had been with or eaten with had got it so it was something I picked up all by myself.  Sunday night and Monday day  were the worst and I had to cancel my monthly bone strengthener treatment (Zometa) at the Haematology Day Unit as I wasn’t well enough to go in and also you are not supposed to attend if you have had sickness or diarrhoea within the last 24 hours.  By Tuesday, I was getting a cold as well. I rang my GP and he suggested I take antibiotics but as it was getting to closing time it would be too late to issue a prescription. I remembered I had an emergency supply at home so he told me to take them.  I started to feel better over that evening and the next day the trend continued so I went in for my Zometa on Wednesday morning. I had wanted to go because before Zometa is administered a blood test is taken to check kidney function. I knew I was being paranoid but some of the symptoms I was feeling with the infection were similar to those I had when I went into acute kidney failure which were shortness of breath, tiredness, lack of appetite so I was relieved that my glomular filtration rate was over 90.  Relief but I am annoyed with myself for the unnecessary anxiety I felt.

It also took me back to almost the exact same time a year ago when I was admitted to hospital for 4 days with chronic diarrhoea, the cause of which was unknown. It started when I was on a short break in the Algarve. I thought it would get better when I got back but it didn’t, it got worse and so I rang the doctor on the haematology ward and she said that I should probably go to A&E. It was Saturday night and I didn’t want to go and sit for hours in A&E  so she agreed I should go first thing on Sunday morning if it wasn’t improving.

I drove myself there on Sunday morning expecting to be back in a few hours as I had planned to go with friends to the Chorlton Open Gardens Day (why I thought I was going to be able to attend that is beyond me) but I ended up being admitted, put on a drip and blood and stool samples taken.

Because of my infection and risk of infection due to just completing my last round of chemotherapy I was put in an isolation room on the Medical Assessment Unit which is a pretty dismal ward where people are put because there is nowhere else for them to go and they cant stay in A&E. I had to call some friends to bring some pyjamas in for me and some other stuff and drive my car to another car park.  The room was hot, small, stuffy and noisy.

I then got moved to a room on the acute medical ward and spent another couple of days there. it had a pay TV so at least I could watch Wimbledon. They weren’t giving me any antibiotics to treat it until they had established the cause. It was at the time of the outbursts of ecoli in Europe which was eventually linked to a bean sprout producer in Germany I think so the medics were concerned that it could have been ecoli but then ruled it out as there were no reported outbreaks in Portugal and tests were negative.

The only good thing about being in hospital is that I bumped into my haematology consultant whilst I was having a walkabout and she told me that there was good news about the results of my bone marrow biopsy which I had done the week before.  There needed to be less than 10% abnormal cells before I could proceed to the stem cell transplant stage of my treatment and when I saw her in clinic on Friday she confirmed it was less than 5%.  So I was discharged on 22 June with some phosphate supplements as my phosphates were low and then gradually got better but running to the toilet 14/15 times a day is not a pleasant experience! Below is an extract from my discharge sheet.

So with having a compromised immune system I was worried that I was going to end up in hospital again but this time my body fought it and I recovered within 48 hours and also was able to attend the Chorlton Open Gardens this year which was on Sunday 24th June. About 25 gardens in Chorlton were open to the public in aid of Freedom against Torture Charity and I managed to get round 15 of them, all of which were lovely, some of which were stunning and inspiring. Here is a photo of a pond I particularly liked.

So all good again.  I think I was particularly anxious this time because of the uncanny timing with the episode last year, the symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath which were part and parcel of my infection which I was worried was to do with my kidneys and because over the last two months or so 4 people of around my age with myeloma that I know of have died because of serious infections. When I hear about this I feel extremely sad for them and their families, scared and down too because it is a reminder of what may happen to me. Not likely whilst in remission but I DONT KNOW HOW LONG THAT IS GOING TO LAST! I have a clinic appointment next Friday when I should find out my latest free light chain results, wish I could stop feeling anxious.

Just read a very good quote from Daily Encouragement by Daisaku Ikeda which a facebook friend posted.

The important thing is to advance brightly and strive to be victorious at each moment, right where we are; to begin something here and now instead of fretting and worrying over what will happen. This is the starting point for transforming our lives.

This was such a timely post for me, thanks RF!

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Filed under Cancer, Health, Multiple Myeloma, Myeloma