4-29-10

Lisa drives up every day from Bethesda to Baltimore.  Somebody has to get the kids to and from school, take them to their activities, deal with the household, etc.  That person is our nanny Melanie Poulson who has provided the integral support we need to deal with our situation.   We can’t thank her enough.

Status: 8.0/10.  Still feeling the lingering effects of Ara-C, mainly queasiness and something just short of nausea.  Fortunately the medications they now use make this much less of issue than in the past.

Events:  Officially, I am now neutropenic, which means essentially no white cells. I will remain that way for the next two weeks or so.  Although I am currently receiving oral and IV antibiotics, if I spike a fever during that time, they will add additional antibiotics.

Comments:  I must say, good-naturedly, that the physicians and nurses are reluctant to give you an exact answer to a question.  It’s always, “It depends.”  I realize that things vary, but if a Martian came to earth and asked how tall humans were, it’s not particularly helpful to say, “It depends.”  I’ve asked Lisa to purchase a box of Depends, and every time one of the staff answers a question in that way, I am going to hand them my Depends Award.

   Even without frank nausea, it’s difficult to mount an appetite.  My diet of late has consisted of popsicles; not particularly the best nutrition but you do what you gotta do.  As anyone knows, it’s a Jewish maxim that the cure for anything is food.  Along those lines, a nice woman from the hospital’s Jewish Visitors Network stopped in today with a small challah and a bottle of kosher grape juice.   I perhaps would have preferred a nice chianti.  

   I try to divert myself with reading material and the like.  Lisa bought me a new copy of Kitty Kelley’s Oprah, just the kind of trashy book that takes your mind off things.  I knew Oprah well in Chicago, since we worked at the same ABC station, and I even appeared on her show three times. Little known, I was the first doctor to put Oprah on a diet, and unfortunately I wasn’t successful. 

   I will have to report tomorrow on this evening’s last kick in the pants, the Mitoxantrone infusion.  They tell me I won’t feel much like doing any writing this evening.  But then, no more chemo during this hospitalization.  The drug’s effects last about 48 hours and either I or Lisa will report to you over the next few days.  I hope your next few days are filled with health and love.

   Love from me,

   – Bruce

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17 Responses to “”

  1. Bill Schaffner Says:

    Dear Neutropenia:

    We’re thinking of you, Lisa and the children – not to mention Sugar.

    You must feel extraordinarily vulnerable without your WBC soldiers to hold off the pathogen army. I enjoy your gorilla tactics to assert your individuality and to eke out a measure of control. I’ve heard your lesson-when I’m next on service I’ll do my best not to be eligible for the Vanderbilt version of your Depends Award.

    You haven’t commented on the hand hygiene practices of your caregivers. Hereabouts, the oncology wards have the most committed staff and faculty and they scrutinize all the itinerant rounders from other services that come to consult on their patients. I hope that your caregivers are equally obsessive.

    I’ve just come back from Commencement rehearsal. Like our students, I’m sure you’re looking forward to graduation (completion) of your current course (of treatment). Just a big final exam to go… Actually, I remind the students that the formal name of the ceremony is Commencement (a new beginning). We’re all eager for your Commencement after your graduation.

    Hang tough!

    Bill

  2. Leslie and Don Singman and Family Says:

    Hi Bruce,
    We have been following your updates and after just these 10 days or so, I feel like I could explain all that is happening to you for anyone from the use of all your analogies about your condition! 🙂 We are thinking of you each day and hope to get to visit at some point when that is allowed.
    Don was glad he could help with the caulking dilema in the bathroom, it should be safe to shower now 🙂

    Leslie and the Singmans

  3. Catherine Says:

    I think it is CRAZY that you make me LAUGH during all this. I love you, Bruce.
    xox

  4. Judi Golding-Baker Says:

    Dear Bruce
    Meant to thank you for the handwashing tips (now paying more careful attention to right thumb)! Hang tough for the next 48 – hopefully Saturday night will be a welcome relief…

    Love you
    Judi

  5. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Dearest Bruce and Lisa,
    You must know that anytime I make a quote from USA Today, it’s because I’ve joined the legion of road warriors…and it’s the best the hotel has to offer at my door…
    Anyway, USA featured a story about a new book that caught my attention as a single mom and because of the ordeal you are now facing….
    They reviewed author Bruce Feiler’s book, “The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness and the Men Who Could Be Me”. What parent, honestly, single or not, has not at some time worried about the care of their children should something happen to them? Again, as a single mom, the notion has prompted numerous discussions with my beloved siblings and close friends. Bruce Feiler took it an impressive step further….
    When Bruce was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, he decided he needed to write a letter to six of his closest friends. He asked them to be there for his then-3-year-old twin daughters, if something happened to him. Each man represented a different era of Feiler’s life and a different aspect of Feiler’s personality that he wanted passed on to his girls. He asked them to join what he called “The Council of Dads”….
    Happily Bruce is now in recovery, as we know you will be soon as well, but the concept, and book is spawning a wave of “Councils of Moms and Dads” across the country….should be a powerful read….
    Here’s hoping that last round of chemotherapy was not too difficult for you. You are both blanketed in love and prayers. Donna XO

  6. Judy Freedman Says:

    Bruce,
    Your INCREDIBLE strength and courage, your ability to explain what is going on in a truly understandable way, and your keen sense of humor are truly MORE than amazing!! Love the Depends Award!

    I remember when you suggested a diet for Oprah. (Obviously, no diet has worked for her).

    Every time I wash my hands I think of you. I also think of you when I am not washing my hands.
    XXOOXX,
    Judy

  7. Aileen Says:

    Dang–can’t wash my hands now without thinking of you and that opposable thumb business–I raise a grape juice toast to the end of this round! (You’ll have to write another another blog about trashy reads: had NO idea you knew Oprah when she was just…oprah…) Wishing you a peaceful night, Aileen

  8. Jill Stewart Says:

    Ah, the famous Dr.-Dan-Oprah-diet: popcorn and wine, at least one night a week. It deserves more attention, effective or not.

    Your grace and humor entertain through this blog each night, but keep you in my thoughts around the clock.

    Love, Jill

  9. Sheryl Stolberg Says:

    Hi Bruce.

    We are thinking of you every day and especially today, after your description of the shake and bake treatment. We said a special prayer for you at our Shabbat dinner table last week , and will do so again tomorrow night.

    Be strong,
    Love to you and Lisa,
    Sheryl

  10. joel steinberg Says:

    Bruce: Your blog is the most trenchant and insightful that I’ve ever read. Margaret and I just came home from her most recent chemo (OK, cute, trite) treatment. But hers is a cakewalk compared to yours. We are pulling for you. Love, Joel and Margaret S.

  11. wendy Says:

    B-It’s all a learning curve as you know/ And of course it’s who you know hat can make a difference. I spent the greater part of the day trying to find an agency to do the donor blood type lab test..and through the san diego blood bank transferimg me to the stem cell dept. I talked to an amazing perosn Jose Pina. He was so thoughtful and generous… he’ll do my HLA test from Hopkins and directed me with great compassion to other agencies to see if they can do the other test for blood type and cmv IgG/ I made a new friend with Jose. He truly understood what you were going through and as such made me feel heard and supported. In the process of getting to him, my dear friend in the kidney transplant center who suggested I can them… offered BMT for you.. so dear Brother Bruce- If per chance your siblings aren’t good enough… there are many who have and will volunteer to be a donot

  12. wendy Says:

    B-It’s all a learning curve as you know/ And of course it’s who you know that can make a difference. I spent the greater part of the day trying to find an agency to do the donor blood type lab test..and through the san diego blood bank transferimg me to the stem cell dept. that I talked to an amazing perosn Jose Pina. He was so thoughtful and generous… he’ll do my HLA test from Hopkins and directed me with great compassion to other agencies to see if they can do the other test for blood type and cmv IgG/ I made a new friend with Jose. He truly understood what you were going through and as such made me feel heard and supported. In the process of getting to him, my dear friend in the kidney transplant center who suggested I call them… she offered BMT for you.. so dear Brother Bruce- If per chance your siblings aren’t good enough… there are many who have and will volunteer to be a donor

  13. Henry Miller Says:

    Big Bro’,

    If you need to increase your caloric intake while your appetite isn’t good, you might ask the nurses for Sustacal Plus (milk-based) or Ensure Plus (soy-based). It’s usually best to drink them after meals as kind of a dessert.

    Glad to hear that your spirits remain good.

    Thinking of you often,

    L’il Bro

  14. Wally Schlech Says:

    If you were in Uganda “shake and bake” would be malaria! Hang tough buddy. – I’m off to Portugal Monday for tri-annual Listeria geeks meeting; still livin’ on that outbreak!
    Love W and Mary

  15. Alan and Joy Greenberg Says:

    Bruce,
    Joy and I just heard of your treatment and blog…and send our heartfelt wishes for your recovery.

    I went back and read your blog from day one, on and I must say I was moved in so many ways. First, even as you face this challenge you are giving back to all of us who in one way or another…individually or via family proximity have gone through similar challenges and experiences…albeit without your vast knowledge and insight…which your blog’s commentary so extraordinarily exhibits. Just “knowing” gives one comfort and confidence and your candor brings this to life in a real world manner with so many lessons for us all. Bruce, you have always been a gifted communicator…you not only know stuff, you know how to deliver stuff…and the warmth and humor and preciseness in which you have brought us into your journey is a gift.

    I am equally struck by your inner strength, what you take from Lisa and your kids and your desire to return to the wonders of a normal life. It’s clear how much these things mean to you and I have little doubt but they will fortify you in an unbounded way and deliver the results you are fighting for.

    Finally, Joy and I miss you and hope we can reconnect in a much more personal, ongoing way. I will look for reports on your blog on when you and Lisa will be allowing at home visits and hope to make one to you very soon.

    With love,

    Alan and Joy

    Secondly, I must honestly say that

  16. Ilene Rosenthal Says:

    Grape juice and challah in hand: Shabbat Shalom and I mean that in the best way – I hope it is indeed peaceful and not as tumultuous as you expect. You know we are kinda into that Jewish stuff and we’ve been saying a prayer called a “Mi’shaberach” for you; sending you prayers for healing (refuah shlema – a full recovery) and strength. Ok enough of that. It probably helps us more than it helps you, but I suppose that’s ok.
    Sending love to you, Lisa and the kids. Remember, a weekend in beautiful Park Hill Yonkers can be fun! We’d be happy to have them!

  17. Barbara Ficarra Says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights about your hospitalization in your blog. We can learn a lot through the eyes of a patient. I admire your strength and humor. (I may write a new hand washing post and include your tips!)

    Wishing you well.

    Best,

    Barbara Ficarra

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