6-11-10

Still buoyed up by friends bringing by dinner, staying with the kids, and helping out in so many ways.

 Status: 9.0/10.  The usual trip up to Hopkins for lab checks.  Blood counts looked great!  White count and neutrophil count even higher in the normal range.  Still await the official bone marrow biopsy report, but the flow cytometry (a sophisticated process in which they can identify individual cell types) was clear for leukemic cells – my oncology attending said, “I’m really happy with this.”  So are we.  It’s a good sign that the initial chemotherapy we went through has led to a remission (not a cure), but an important milestone in dealing with the leukemia.  Decided not to do red cell transfusion today (given the time it takes to perform a blood typing and crossmatch, and giving 2 units, we’d be there until 7 PM).  We’ll go back Monday early, and if need be have the transfusion and be out by 1 PM or so.

Events:  Should give you a picture of what a day going to the outpatient clinic is like.   First it’s an hour drive up I-95 (the northeast corridor that leads to Philly, NYC, and beyond).  It can be about as busy as anywhere depending on the time of day.  Once in the Hopkins complex, if you have an appointment in the Weinberg Center (where all the cancer therapy is done) or a handicapped sticker you can park in the basement garage of the building (a huge convenience).  Once in the main lobby you scan a bar-coded ID card you’ve been previously received – it logs you in and prints out your appointment schedule for the day.  You use your ID card at each station (I scanned myself into the outpatient clinic, scanned myself into the blood drawing area …).  That way they know where you are at all times, and you don’t have to go through to usual tedium at doctor’s offices of signing a clipboard, showing the receptionist your insurance card, etc.

  You then sit in a comfortable but crowded large waiting area (perhaps 30’ x 100’) for your name to be called. It’s rather subdued and quiet (appropriate since everyone there is a patient or family member, and what the rest of the building should sound like).  Once you’re called, you proceed into a large sectioned off room where they take your weight and vital signs.  There are perhaps 20 or more curtained-off tiny alcoves where you have your blood drawn.  Since I have a Hickman catheter still in place it makes blood drawing easier, but it has to be done carefully with sterile technique.  They also flush your catheter with anti-coagulant to keep it from clotting.  That cleaning and flushing has to go on everyday at home, and Lisa has become an expert at it (you shower with an adhesive plastic sheet over the catheter, and we also go for some NASA redundancy with some GLAD Press and Seal).

After the blood drawing you proceed to your next appointment, but not without a reminder to scan out of the area (in the not too distant future I’m sure they’ll make it even easier with implanted radio frequency ID tags).  The next appointment is in a waiting area on another floor (again you scan in to let them know you are there) where transfusions, chemotherapy, and other outpatient therapy is given.  It’s where I sit and be transfused next week.  Today a brief chat with one of the nurses, and we were allowed to go home.  I think the outpatient treatment areas at Hopkins’ and the way they handle it are excellent.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend.  We have a busy week coming up.

Hope you have a great weekend, too.

 Love,

-Bruce

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7 Responses to “”

  1. wendy Says:

    Joining in unison “I’m really happy with this, too”

    See what a good patient gets… a good report card!

  2. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Wonderful to read of Rachel’s graduation….how proud you deserve to feel….Love to you all….I’m off to see my “baby” at CU Boulder tomorrow….Cheers. XO Donna

  3. grassflats Says:

    Excellent news…keep up the good work, and that includes keeping us informed. Best to Lisa…

  4. Gail Lehmann Says:

    We are so glad to hear the good news and look forward to hearing more good news this week.
    Gail & Mark

  5. Tom Linden Says:

    I just caught up with your week and Rachel’s graduation. Congratulations to her and her proud parents. The word “remission” sounds good to me too. Best wishes for your continued recovery.

  6. Michael M Durand Says:

    Bruce– I spent the last two hours catching up on your blog, from chemo induction to your return home. As always through the 15 years I’ve known you, you are inspirational, humorous and, of course educational (I will forever be mindful about thoroughly washing my left thumb–I’m left handed).

    Wishing you and your family all the best. And then some.

    Michael

  7. joel steinberg Says:

    The scanners are great. Margaret and all her drugs get scanned each time she goes for an infusion. The information goes straight into the computerized medical record and is kept for all time (essentially). It saves time, eliminates illegible notes, and avoids errors. You certainly wouldn’t want to get someone else’s chemotherapy! Also, the chemo patients get to step to the head of the line at the lab and pharmacy so as to minimize exposure to other patients. We have eight more weeks of this tedium to go. It’s almost like being on probation with occasional furloughs to see the probation officer (not that either of us have any personal experience in that regard). We shall all soldier on. Congratulations to your daughter and your family. Joel and Margaret S.

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