5-2-11 Monday  + 6 months

Status:  Feeling progressively better each day.  Appetite has increased (the steroids), but the result is that I’m eating more, and gained 2 lb since last week.  Now, the truth is I’m eating a horrible diet – steak, whole milk, ice cream, cookies.  Looking forward to the day I’m back at my ideal weight and eating fruits and veggies, but right now filling up with low-cal foods is counterproductive.

Events: A comprehensive visit to Hopkins today for my 6-month check up after transplant.  Started off as usual with blood work, but this time they took 15 tubes of blood (wondered if I was going to faint when I stood up).  Each tube is labeled with a yellow sticker with a bar code, my name, birth date (didn’t ask me for a copy of my birth certificate), Hopkins ID #, and lab test.  I’m asked to check each and every label to make sure it’s accurate.  Each tube is then placed in a ziploc biohazard bag and sent off to separate laboratories.

  Next stop was my bone marrow biopsy.  It was crowded with Lisa, me (on the table), two nurse practitioners, a laboratory tech (who smears the bone narrow on dozens of slides), and a Korean nurse visitor.  The nurse practitioner was kind and thorough and asked, “What’s this? Your dozenth time?”  At a minimum, but she still went through all the consent forms (you might bleed, you might get an infection, you might die – all the cheery news you’re looking for).  I was given some Versed and Fentanyl for conscious sedation, which makes it a whole lot easier.  They got good samples, so we wait perhaps until the end of the week to get the results.

 Next, a visit with my oncologist.  Said I looked good, my labs were stable, as was my recent CT scan, and that things were proceeding well.  Plan was to extend my visits to 2 weeks, then monthly.  It’s a confidence boost to see my leash being let out.

Comments: Corticosteroids (like prednisone, not anabolic steroids like testosterone) make it more difficult for insulin to work getting glucose into cells – you in fact become diabetic. My fasting blood sugar is up, which means that glucose is sitting around in my bloodstream because it can’t get into cells.  Meanwhile, although my blood is full of sugar, my cells are starving (water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink).  The cells send a signal to the brain, “Send more sugar!”  So you get cravings for food, especially sweets.  The body has to do something with all those extra calories floating around so it converts them to fat and stores them throughout the body.  The body can make glucose from protein in a complex process, so eating meat is a better strategy, but it’s hard to resist those Nabisco Sugar Wafers.

 Have a sweet week yourselves, we’ll let you know as soon as we find out the results of our bone marrow.  




9 Responses to “”

  1. Bill Israel Says:

    Hang in there, Bruce. Amazing, being turned into a diabetic in order to get through the tunnel to the other side. It’s *so* good to hear you continue to get good reports. We’re grateful, and jubilant for you……Big Hugs from Eileen and me. If you get a chance, check out: http://www.billisrael.com/News.html The book’s going well, but suggestions from you are always welcome. -Bill

  2. Reggie & Fred Says:

    Long form/short form..we don’t care where you were born..you’re our leader and one amazing person. So thrilled to hear how well you are doing! We love you very much XXXOOO Reg & Fred

  3. Mitzi Krockover Says:

    It was good to get the update–so glad to hear things are going well and that you are feeling better.

    Keep up the good work :-)!

  4. Chaya Says:

    Don’t want you to join me with those blood sugars. Love YOU!

  5. Susan Says:

    glad to hear you are doing well. The updates are great and it is so good to “hear” how well you are progressing. love Susie

  6. Henry Miller Says:

    Your progress is AMAZING but not unexpected!

    Speaking of medical things, I spent Monday evening with one of the icons of 20th Century medicine: Tom Fogarty, cardiac surgeon and inventor of the Fogarty embolic catheter (21 MILLION produced). A mutual friend got us together at Tom’s Fogarty Winery, in the hills west of Palo Alto. The winery was closed to visitors so it was just the three of us sitting around, drinking Fogarty Pinot Noir, eating cheese and pate, telling war stories, and complaining about govt regulation of medical devices.

    Looking forward to more positive reports!

  7. Donna Hill Howes Says:

    Awesome progress, Bruce. Five bites of steak for every sugar wafer and you’ll get the job done! Continues prayers and always LOVE to you and Lisa.

  8. Bill Schaffner Says:


    I love the good news. Also am amused by your faux ambivalence about having to consume your “horrible” diet. We who must be abstemious, focusing on fruits and veggies, must acknowledge a moment of envy.

    15 tubes of blood – must be close to a world record. Obviously, all those labs haven’t heard of sharing. Never mind, if they all report out great results, we’ll forgive them!

    Our shared sense of optimism continues!



  9. joel steinberg Says:

    Good luck on the bone marrow results. We are cheered by your good news. Joel and Margaret S.

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