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Today’s my Dad’s 89th birthday.   Happy Birthday, Dad !

Status: 8.0/10 (The Russian judges are particularly strict, especially after noting the gastrointestinal side effects of the first 3-day course of chemotherapy.)

Events: Had a small headache last night.  They asked me if I wanted anything for it – reinforcing the fact that they’re not looking for brave souls around here.  If you start to have a headache, or nausea, or anything that might get worse over time they want to jump on it quickly.   Awakened at 4 AM by increased gastrointestinal motility (if you don’t know what that means you can look it up – we’re trying to keep this thing at least PG-13).  The ensuing scene of me trying to move from bed to bathroom, in the dark, with an IV pole, flapping hospital gown, beeping pump alarm, electric cords, and stool culture sampling kit could only be replicated by Peter Sellers in his prime.

   Received 2 units of blood as my hematocrit had dropped to 21.  The cadre of vampira had finally drained me almost dry.

Comments: They’re holding off on giving me some helpful Imodium until the laboratory confirms I’m not having GI problems due to a bacterium called C. difficile.  “C. diff,” as it goes by, is an especially bad bug.  It’s in the same family as the bacteria that cause tetanus, botulism, and gangrene.  All do their damage by making toxins – and in C diff’s case, inflammation of the intestinal wall.  The microorganism has become a significant problem in hospitalized patients, especially in folks who have been on broad spectrum antibiotics.

    Before you can receive a blood transfusion, they check to see if the donated blood matches your own.  By match they mean that the body’s immune system won’t label it as foreign and reject it.  Because we are all different genetically, the cells in our body have their own unique identifying characteristics – just like everyone at a large business convention has their own name tag.  You can quickly look at a tag and tell if someone is a member of your company or a competitor.

    Red blood cells have their own special types of name tags.  They were discovered by Karl Lansdteiner more than a hundred years ago, and he simply called them A and B.  All of your red cells are either type A, or type B, both, or neither.  If they are both, we call them AB, if neither we call them O.  And just as competitors at the convention aren’t going to let you into their cocktail party after eyeing your name tag, your immune system isn’t going to accept a red blood cell if it conflicts with your own type.  So if you have type A blood, you’ll match only with another A, or an O (they’re treated like the waitstaff at the cocktail party – they mingle around but are of no competitive threat).  AB types will party with anybody (they’re happy to see a name on the tag they’re familiar with), but the O types won’t party with anyone else – they’re just supposed to be serving the hors d’oeuvres.

   Later, it was discovered that there was another factor that mattered, too.  It was found  by working with Rhesus monkeys and called the Rh factor; that one you either have (positive) or you don’t (negative).  So your blood will be labeled A+, or perhaps AB-, or whatever.  Giving mismatched blood can cause a serious transfusion reaction, and it’s why they try to be so careful when giving blood in the hospital.    [Note: my transfusions today must have matched well – no problems]

   As much as I have confidence in my doctors, I’m somewhat distressed that they don’t seem to share as much information as I want about my status, lab values, etc.   I realize that they are likely acting in the usual rubric they use with their lay patients, but I’m going to speak to them and relate that they’ll have a better outcome if they include the real insider on the team. 

 I’m looking forward to the weekend, no chemo, and most important, the kids will be here.  That’s better than any meds they could come up with. 

I hope your weekend is just as good.


– Bruce


8 Responses to “Next Post”

  1. wendy Says:

    Hoping a weekend reprieve with soothe what ails you. At least having the kids there -they will certainly entertain you. looking forward to good blood transfusions and better crit…

  2. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Hi Bruce.
    Please let me know if a blood drive in your behalf would be of any benefit at all. I have a mighty league of folks who would gladly donate a unit of blood in your name. Is that a tiny way that your fan club could help? Just say the word, and I’ll explore the process and get it going….you may not ever need it, but if you do, it’s there for you. If not, others will make use of it.
    Special love and thoughts as you get to spend precious time with your sweet kids.
    Love to all.

  3. Judi Golding-Baker Says:

    Dear Bruce
    Well, I’m hooked on your blog! As soon as I got home tonight, I fired up the computer and went straight to BDblog. I loved your description of blood types (name tags and all)… You are such a great writer.

    Enjoy the weekend. Take in that good medicine – Lisa and the kids.

    Love you

  4. Wally Schlech Says:

    Hi pal – have a great w/e! I’m heading home from TO just as Mary’s off to Fla to see her mom. Dinner with Clark and Susie Gregg last 3 nights (we’re both ACP Gov’s) and they’re pulling for you as well.
    Chromosome news excellent – those critters don’t stand a chance!

  5. Catherine O'Brien Says:

    Dear Bruce,

    I expected to fret and be anxious while reading your blog; I never expected to be educated and even entertained. Saying entertained seems like blasphemy but what I mean is that you are SUCH a good writer I look forward to reading the next installment. If I could only suspend reality and not know that this is YOU who going through this.

    I would, however, like to skip ahead and read that you are feeling well and RECOVERED! Enjoy your weekend with your kids.

    Lots and lots of love,

  6. wendy Says:

    B -Re: Donna’s idea-I’m all for the Blood drive…can we do this all across the country or does it have to be local? Someone let me know and I have a group who is already asking what they can do for you really from all across the country.

    The patient -doctor perspective is a excellent addition.
    give the kids a hug for me too

  7. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Bruce and Wendy,
    I believe, and will confirm, that a national blood “dedication program” is possible, with essentially a credit system set up in Bruce’s name….so for 10 or 20 units donated in his name, the # of units is credited to his account there at JH….I’ll explore. Stay tuned. Donna

  8. Pearl1957 Says:

    Dear Bruce and Family,
    I was treated for Breast Cancer and didn ‘t get answers from my Oncs. It was frustrating for me. Being a physician I can only imagine how it feels not to have all your labs etc. I managed to get copies of all of my labs, scans etc. But it took a long time for the Drs. to agree to give me my information. I sounds sill but seeing my labs made me feel like I had control over my body. Sort of like meditating on my red cells becoming stronger.
    I hope your weekend is great and that your feeling stronger. Cancer is one tough battle and hard work to beat and I am sure you will do this.
    All the best to your family, they sound intelligent and just plain wonderful.

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