Lisa brought a whole surprise package of cards, letters, puzzles, and gifts from so many family and friends.   I felt like I was having a birthday.  It definitely brightened up my day.

Status:  8.0/10.  Another night of blood transfusions, and another day of fatigue from a sleepless night.  They wake you up at 3AM to give you doses of Tylenol and Benadryl as prophylaxis against any potential transfusion reaction.  [I have to comment here about the use of Benadryl.  It may be one of the worst drugs on the market, especially for an over-the-counter medication.  Studies have shown clear cognitive decline after taking it.  It was used in the past, and probably continues to be used, as a sleep aid for older people.  That drowsiness and wooziness it causes is actually a major side effect, not a purposeful medicinal effect.  I would encourage any of you who use it as an antihistamine to discard it and select a more modern “non-drowzy” antihistamine.] 

 As they start your transfusion, they awaken you to take your vital signs, they take them again 15 minutes later, and then every hour as your two units of blood are transfused.  It is an exercise in sleep deprivation, not exactly what the doctor ordered.  It’s actually what the nurses ordered, as I am told that it is an administrative mechanism to shift the work load onto the night nurses and off the busy schedule of the day nurses.  Looks like I am going to have to talk to some people again. 

Events: Some good news today.  A few little while blood cells made their appearance, which would indicate recovery of my normal bone marrow.   The numbers are so low they will undoubtedly bounce between zero and a few for the next few days, but it’s a good sign.  Also, the preliminary bone marrow biopsy done a few days ago looked very good to the doctors.  We will wait for the definitive results of my next bone marrow several weeks from now, but again it brought an uplift to my day.  Got a little exercise and a little chicken soup, what else can you ask for.  Looking forward to the weekend.  Rachel, Ethan and Lisa will come over tomorrow night to celebrate Rachel’s 14th birthday.  She has become such a charmer.  I am looking forward to celebrating her 15th next year. 

Comments:  So far I have been very fortunate to have escaped most of the major side effects of the chemotherapy regimen.  The concern of course, in the back of your mind, is if I didn’t get the side effects, did the treatment work?  The doctors assure me that there’s no correlation between side effects and the success of treatment.  It’s just that some people metabolize the drugs differently.  Now it’s just a matter of getting through the next few days without an infection and on to blessed boredom.  Lisa is starting to put together a calendar for visits, which will hopefully forestall any boring moments (that of course depends on the visitors, doesn’t it!). 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and, as always,




12 Responses to “”

  1. Hope Dan Says:

    Wonderful Mother’s Day cards from you and yours, love your sentiments, back atcha.
    Sounds like good news on the battle front, keep on keeping on.
    I know you will enjoy your company will help the boredom.
    And please let them give you all nite to sleep and do the transfusions in the day time. Tell them Momma says so!

  2. Judy Freedman Says:

    Your blog continues to be MORE than amazing! I absorb and applaud every bit of positive news … and, even a hint of something good makes me
    smile 🙂 ! I can’t find the words to describe your courage and the gifted way you are able to talk (blog) about your experience. I am still having difficutly thinking of you as a patient….you have always been the M.D. giving your guidance and consultation to everyone. I love the way you are giving your opinions and guidance to those that are treating you! Your observations, reflections, and opinions are extremely valuable lessons for everyone in the medical profession, for patients, and for all of your family and friends. It is not only about what you are educating us regarding what is going on medically, but more importantly, the life lessons you are teaching us. By the way, I continue to think of you everytime I wash my hands…which is al lot!
    Happy Birthday to Rachel and Happy Mother’s Day to Lisa! Wishing you a restful night.

  3. Tom Toftey Says:

    Surely, others have noticed, Bruce, that you have a book here — “Memo to the Medical Profession!” You have me captivated. And Jane was interested in your comments about Benadryl.

    And so, Bruce, your teaching continues! I hope you can get some quality sleep tonight Rest well, my friend.

  4. wendy Says:

    B- who would have thought when you were growing up that you’d develop an interest in the lives and deaths of white blood cells.. and are they really white? need another science lesson perhaps…

    and you haven’t been reporting about the “side effects of the treatment” as it relates to weight loss and you know we could use a current picture.. unless you are already bald and not sharing..

  5. Jill Stewart Says:

    Flurry of email exchanges between/among Tom Toftey, Donna HH and me after her visit to you. Told her how your blog inspires, educates and informs me everyday. Then I usually cry. Keep ’em coming. We all love you! Jill

  6. Sharon McDonnell Says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Got a sweet email from the current MPH class at Dartmouth about you. They want to send along notes, some stories, and I will include a few of my own “health through imagery photos” for fun.

    So, we will make up a care package for you. Can someone tell me the best address to use? Just home I suppose?

    So, here is a nice message to warm the cockles of your heart. You have been touching people all along and collecting friends.

    Keep blogging and let us know if we can do anything out here for you.

    (see message below)


    Dear MPH Classmates,

    Like many of you, I was deeply saddened to hear about Bruce Dan’s recent leukemia diagnosis. I think I speak on behalf of the entire class when I say that his lecture on developing a “SOCO” was by far one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had this year. His unforgettable enthusiasm, unique sense of humor, impressive intellectual prowess and warmth of spirit really shone through when he came to TDI and I think a lot of us will carry his advice with us throughout our professional careers.

    I am sending you this message to let you know that next week’s guest lecturer, Dr. Sharon McDonnell, has contact information for Bruce Dan. Those of you who would like to let him know that he is in your thoughts and prayers as he fights this nasty illness ……….. I feel it’s the least we can do for someone who taught us so much and had such a profoundly positive impact on our educational experience at TDI.

    If you have any other suggestions as to what we could send along with the card, please do let me know.

    Thank you,

  7. Henry Miller Says:

    Big bro’,

    Continuing to enjoy your insights — and steady progress!

    A few thoughts:

    — I agree completely with you about Benadryl; and not only is the drowsiness a nuisance but for some people so is the excessive “dryness.” However, according to some of my allergist buddies, the second generation antihistamines (like Zyrtec and Claritin) that have fewer side effects also don’t work as well; and for your purposes the potency might be important. Before you request a switch to a second generation drug, you might suggest trying chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).

    — You SHOULD, as you put it, “talk to somebody” about the nurses awakening you excessively. As you know, unless something is absolutely required by a protocol, the docs can rearrange things pretty much as they wish — for example, no vital signs between midnight and 6am. (And as a reminder to all the staff, they could ask for a sign on the door, “DO NOT DISTURB PATIENT UNNECESSARILY BETWEEN…”

    — Also, speaking of docs being able to order pretty much what they want to, don’t hesitate to ask for special treats at mealtimes — lobster, chocolate shakes, banana splits, English breakfasts, whatever. At a classy joint like Hopkins, they ought to be able to accommodate most requests; at the very least, in Baltimore you should be able to get crab cakes! (They might also be able to order double portions so that Lisa could dine with you.) And if they’re not good about fulfilling special requests, your visitors could pick up something special for you at Baltimore’s wonderful Lexington Market (assuming that the hospital permits that).

    Warm regards and thoughts of you,

    L’il Bro

  8. wendy Says:

    wishing Rachel a Happy Birthday.. and hoping this year is a very special year for her

  9. joel steinberg Says:

    Yeah–Lexington Market goodies. Although I don’t think one could vouch for their cleanliness or sanitation. I started using Benadryl to combat the itching and rash caused by PEG-interferon. I have since used it as a sleep aid and have indeed noticed the dry mouth, etc. I think I will stop using it. Margaret will be getting some when she starts on Taxol. Chemotherapy, even “chemo-lite,” is really yucky. Get well, Bruce.

  10. Warren Says:

    Marilyn Says:

    Warren and I often ask “Have I told you lately that i love you?” It is such a loving way to consider how lucky we are, if only for an instant, but you really made me think of how profound the words are. Thank you, Bruce, for continuing to teach as you learn. You are really rising to the challenges you are facing every day with a keen insight that is nothing short of inspiring to everyone who is priviledged to know you. Warren and I are sending you our warm regards and love.

  11. Eileen Breslin Says:

    Dear Bruce,
    Bill and I send Rachel Happy Birthday wishes…As I use my “Bethesda Bag 05-09-09” traveling, I can not stop but remember that magical weekend with you and your family. What a difference a year makes in so many ways. You continue to inspire and teach us as you fight this battle. We are grateful to hear the hopeful news.
    As our nursing students graduate, your stories remind me of the importance of the basics, what Nightingale preached..Believe me, I will have renewed passion as I speak at commencement. The notion of distribution of workload is simply outrageous. We are addicted to your updates, yes this is a book. We send our best wishes to you and your family. We wish a peaceful night….love Eileen & Bill

  12. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Just landed back on the left coast and want to wish Rachel a very Happy Birthday, and Mama Lisa a Happy Mother’s Day….you teach us all the true meaning of what it takes to be one of the “great mom’s!” Hope your weekend includes more of that exercise you enjoy, time spent at the piano, and tons of hugs from those who love you.
    It was grand to see you….and I’ll be back in 3 weeks, but by then I’ll be visiting you in Bethesda!!!
    Love to all, Donna

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