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Life-Threatening Illness & Reality Check

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Today is Friday, 12-3-04. This Bear is sitting, somewhat uncomfortably, in the ole' computer chair, updating Cyburbia.

This morning I had my sixth bone marrow biopsy. Whole lot of fun. Or, should I say, "Hole" lot of fun. (It's not Courtney Love were talking about here.)

The first three (3) were done in the "traditional" manner, in 1996, 2003, and early 2004. You lay on the table on your side and the doc gives you a "local". After a few moments he uses a tool that my wife says looks like a drill bit to go into the skin and into the bone, drawing out bone marrow. It usually lasts about 15-20 seconds and it is the most painful 15-20 seconds I have ever experienced. Katie did get to "assist" in the early 2004 BMB by holding my hand.

A new way of doing this painful procedure was developed, using a form of sedation. The last three (3) have been a lot less painful. The Bear enjoyed the fun of the new way in mid-2004 (twice) and again today.

Today's adventure was a "bi-lateral" bone marrow biopsy, so I did not lay on my side. Instead, bare-assed Bear (nice visual, huh?) was face-down as they gave me the sedation. I remember thinking, "When are they going to add the go-to-sleep drug to the IV in my arm?" The next thing I knew, I was waking up in another room.

There is some after-the-fact pain, but not too bad. It hurts a little to walk. Katie kids me and says I should experience "childbirth". No thanks.

The doctors in Toledo and at the University of Michigan will be looking at the two (2) samples of bone marrow and try to determine why my bone marrow has trouble producing stem cells and they want to see how much Hodgkins (cancer) is in there.

Thanx for listening.

Bear
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,217
Points
27
Bear, you and yours are always in my thoughts and prayers. :l:

(I need to second Michelle and ask for Bare @$$ Bear photos ;) )
 

zman

Cyburbian
Messages
9,244
Points
33
No photos for me thanks.... :-c

I will send you my best though... :)

Keep on going, man!! :D
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,868
Points
45
I just made a comment about my dog licking her backside. My nephew said to me "I'm lucky I'm not a dog or I would be licking my bu^^ all day." He was serious, I'm still laughing.
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
Points
11
Bear, a question about your bouts with chemo. Did you notice your sense of smell getting very sensitive? In my case, I could smell things that really should not be smelled. Very disconcerting.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
nighthawk1959 said:
Bear, a question about your bouts with chemo. Did you notice your sense of smell getting very sensitive? In my case, I could smell things that really should not be smelled. Very disconcerting.

The chemo didn't change anything with my sense of smell. I have never had problems with allergies, though, and since all the chemo treatments I tend to sneeze much more often. We have cats and dogs and perhaps the chemo wrecked some ability to fight off sensitivity to animal hair. Just a guess.

One (1) of the symptoms of Hodgkins Lymphoma is excessive itching. Now that drives me up a wall.

Scratch Bear Fever :8:
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
Points
11
My prt peeve was the bad hair week. I was working in the public, the counter at an indoor shooting range, and went from a full beard and long hair to the usual chemo do in about a week. My mother came over to clean my house about that time and found a lunch bag full of hair that I had pulled out of my brush. Needless to say she freaked out "What are you doing saving this stuff?" I told her it was for contingency purposes. I was going to use it to cover my bald spot after the rest came back. She claimed I had a sick sense of humor. Can't imagine why. When the guys at work ask if my hair was going to fall out and I said yes, one of them said "At least you don't have that much to lose." I nearly rolled in the floor at the looks from the rest of the gang!!
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Katie and I are getting a chuckle out of the latest TV ads. The ads are for a drug called NEULASTA.......this drug builds white blood cells that are lost during the chemotherapy process.

The ad says, "Warning, some users of Neulasta have reported serious side effects such as severe allergic reaction."

My oncology doctor told me that only about one (1) or two (2) percent of users of Neulasta suffer these side effects.

I can't win the freakin' lottery but I can sure fit into that 1-2% group.

And that's why we are chucklin'.

:-D :-D :-D

Bear, Looking For The Drug Called "Nude-Lasta" :-$
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
Points
11
Keep your wonderful sense of humor Bear, that's what got me through it as you can see from my last post here.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
I went to an "owner's meeting", out of town, on Thursday, 12-9-04. When I arrived at home, around 11:00 PM, it was time for my every-other-day Neostar Port "flushing". Katie does this to me, using a hpyo device and Heparin.

A half hour or so after the flushing process I went into a form of an allergic reaction, breaking out in some hives and experiencing excessive shivvering. I shivvered for about two (2) hours, even with a stack of blankets on top of me. The shivvers were so excessive that for a few days afterward I experienced muscle pains such as you would feel when exercising after a long lay-off.

We thought that I was having a reaction to shellfish, from the meeting. I did not feel well on Friday or Saturday and my temperature went over 102 on Saturday evening. Late Saturday evening Katie flushed my port again.....and the excessive shivvers returned.

Ahhhh....haaaaaa.......allergic reaction to the flushing?!

We called the doctors and finally determined that I have an infection, or possibly two (2) infections, underneath my two (2) separate ports. The port on my right side (double-lumen) is buried under the skin. It has been trying to force itself out of the skin and looks quite gross. You can see the round plastic outline of the port just under the skin. (This port is shaped like a double case for a pair of contact lenses).

This Thursday they will remove both ports. Thank heavens!

I still feel a bit funky today.....although better, and my temp has gone back down
to normal. I will be so glad to have these puppies removed from my bod. Especially glad to see the Neostar port go away, with it's dangling from my chest plastic tubes and the continual flushing and bandaging.

BTW......we won't flush again. :)

Bear Going Under The Knife Again
 
Messages
7,628
Points
29
Oh, fun. I got to try to clear the drains on my sis after surgery when one got clogged and she began to swell. +o( This "Borg" technology has NOT yet been perfected.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Well, I have some fun holiday plans.....

Thursday, 12-16-04
Surgery to remove two (2) separate ports from my body. Infection undedr at least one (1) of them.

Friday, 12-17-04
Ann Arbor.....meeting with doctors to discuss the alternate plans to get those pesky little stem cells from my bone marrow so I can get the blasted bone marrow biopsy.

Monday, 12-20-04
Surgery to get the stem cells. "Come out, come out.....wherever you are." Sounds like what will be done is going after those guys by using the "old-fashioned" method: Drilling holes in my hip bones and sucking bone marrow out. (This is not the way they "normally" do it nowadays, but I have to be different.)

So, when do I get to wrap presents?

Nostembear
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
I'm Back - For A Few Days, Anyway

This is your basic OUCH story.

A week or so before Christmas they removed the two (2) ports from my chest. The dangly port (Neostar) was supposed to be used for the bone marrow stem cell transplant. It became infected, inside of it, despite the continual flushing that Katy did to it. Gone!

The other port, placed under my skin back in May or June, was also for pumping chemo drugs into me, as part of the pre-treatment process. It was breaking through the skin. Gone!

That was on a Thursday.

On the following Monday (the Monday before Christmas) I went back to the University of Michigan Hospital for surgery(so many nurses, so little time) to use the "old-faashioned" method of removing bone marrow stem cells. They knocked me out for almost three (3) hours as they drilled a bunch of holes in my back hip bone and sucked out bone marrow and blood. As this was going on they were counting the stem cells, because I need a certain number to have a successful transplant.

When I woke up from my slumber time I couldn't even walk. Katy got me home, in Swanton, OH, 75 miles from the hospital, and I spent a couple days on the couch, in a lot of pain. Yesterday, New Year's Day, was the first day without pain pills since the operation.

Like an idiot, I went to work a couple days before Christmas.....stoopid workaholic who had to see if everything was OK......I was able to walk by then, although very slowly and hunched over like an old man. Wait a minute.....I'am an old man.....
Most of my time at work was spent in my office, catching up on year-end reports and plans and goals for the new year.

They got enough stem cells.....just enough. The doc said that because they do not have an over-abundance it will probably increase my hospital stay after the transplant.

I was scheduled to go in for the transplant on the day before New Year's Eve. However, my insurance company balked, claiming that they need a "cardiac clearance" before allowing out-of-insurance-network U of M do the transplant. So I had to go up to Ann Arbor for another series of heart tests......all tests were fine, this ole' ticker is good.

My admission date is now scheduled for the first Friday in January. I do have a few more tests.....Cat Scans. That's on the board for tomorrow morning, Monday, the third.

Bottom line.....the Bear is back to bug you. :-c

For a few days, anyway.

Soon To Be Wandering The U Of M Halls, Butt Showing :cool:
 
Messages
7,628
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29
Bear Up North said:
Soon To Be Wandering The U Of M Halls, Butt Showing :cool:
But(t)... do Habanero and I get photographs this time. ^o) ;-) :-D

Glad to have you back. Folks have been wondering.



And VERY glad that they finally got the stem cells. :) :)
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
26,674
Points
70
Bear Up North said:
the Bear is back to bug you.
Glad you are back.

That must be a sight to see you waltzing/two stepping/jitter bugging in the hallways with your IV pole. :-o ;-) :p
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,837
Points
26
Glad to have you back Bear! :) Good luck with everything!


It'd be great if you did Bart's Dr. Buttocks impersonation in the hospital :p
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,069
Points
34
Great to hear some good (if painful) news! I remember , well, actually don't remember passing out when I first tried to stand after the "old fashioned" harvest. The ride home was agony, and I think I spent most of three days lying on my stomach. I can't imagine going from that into having the transplant a couple weeks later. So are you going to have a computer and access to the internets from your hospital room?
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
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11,852
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47
Keeping you in our thoughts with best wishes.

As the official scorer of the Cyburbia HoopFest, I'm granting you this 60-second timeout. RJ has to stay on the court, though ;-)
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,300
Points
44
Good to see your post, BUN.

Gedunker said:
...[snip]... RJ has to stay on the court, though ;-)
Why did you leave me on the court? :h:
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,521
Points
23
Good to read some positive news - despite the pain. Too bad it's winter over there, a cool draft through the back of a hospital gown can't be fun. :)
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Cardinal said:
Great to hear some good (if painful) news! I remember , well, actually don't remember passing out when I first tried to stand after the "old fashioned" harvest. The ride home was agony, and I think I spent most of three days lying on my stomach. I can't imagine going from that into having the transplant a couple weeks later. So are you going to have a computer and access to the internets from your hospital room?

I will have my laptop. Internet access is still a question mark.....my laptop is not wireless. I plan on playing a lot of Civ II. I will have to arrange the hospital room so Katie can look at the back of my head when I'm on the computer. Just like home. :-D

They did mention that some folks who get the high-dose chemo for the transplant experience "chemo brain". This is short-term memory loss for a week or two (2).
I already have that....it's called CRS.

Bear
 
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29
Bear Up North said:
I will have my laptop. Internet access is still a question mark.....my laptop is not wireless. I plan on playing a lot of Civ II. I will have to arrange the hospital room so Katie can look at the back of my head when I'm on the computer. Just like home. :-D

They did mention that some folks who get the high-dose chemo for the transplant experience "chemo brain". This is short-term memory loss for a week or two (2).
I already have that....it's called CRS.

Bear
Chemo brain is permanent in about a third of folks. Um, but it is subtler and more complicated than just short-term memory loss. My dad complains he is not as sharp as he used to be. Of course, others don't notice because he was so smart to begin with. You can ameliorate the condition by taking high doses of B-complex and staying on top of anemia.

Mr. Zone travels frequently. If you will have access to a phone jack, just see what the local access numbers are for your sevice. If you have something like MSN, you shouldn't have any trouble dialing in. Also, check with the hospital about what kind of phone lines they have. When I stayed in a hotel room (hotel converted to dorms and classes) for GIS school, I had to buy an adaptor so it wouldn't burn out my wiring and I could have internet access. HelloDirect.com carries them. I ordered mine online.
 

nighthawk1959

Cyburbian
Messages
334
Points
11
So good to hear from you Bear!!! As to the chemo-brain, I had been blaming mine on the two slight strokes, now I have another excuse for my extreme CRS.. Keep on going Bear, we need you and you are definately in my prayers. Hollar if I can help in any way, I'm actually a frustrated and failed commedian so I might can get a smile or two.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
Finally - D Day Approaches!

OK, you have all heard me yakking for months about this bone marrow stem cell transplant. Well....here we go.....

Friday morning I will be at the University of Michigan's Cancer Center. First thing they will do is to place another port in my chest. My problem this year is that I have had more surgeries than Rolling Rocks. That has to change.

After the port surgery, we meet with the transplant team to go over the plan of action. Some blood work and then admittance.

By late afternoon I will probably be laying in the hospital bed with an IV pumping high dose chemotherapy into my body. That chemo will kill all of my existing bone marrow and destroy my white blood cells (which fight infection). After a few days of that fun stuff, they will refill my bone marrow with the stem cells they removed from me in the last few months. These stem cells are pumped into the bloodstream, like a transfusion. The little suckers know to work their way to the bone marrow and they know to start reproducing.

Over the period of about twenty (20) days they should reproduce enough stem cells and white blood cells to get me out of that place. Crossing fingers. :-\

As of this writing I have no idea if I will have internet access. If I do, you will hear from me. If not, news bulletins from the KFWB News Team will head your way in a few weeks.

Katie is more stressed about this than the Bear. It's tough on the caregivers.

I wanna get better so I can drink some :b: :b: with all my friends, including friends from Cyburbia. Rolling Rocks.....yum. :p

Bear
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,069
Points
34
Did I hear something about a Laefest in the Upper Penninsula? Best wishes, Bear.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
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Moderator
Messages
11,852
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47
I am going out tomorrow and buying a case of "33" and putting them in the fridge so that at least some of the beer will be on me at the BearLaefest.

Best wishes Bear!
 

yaff

Cyburbian
Messages
107
Points
6
Bear,

Sending a prayer for you and Katie and waiting anxiously to hear from you all on the other side.
 

Bear Up North

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
9,323
Points
31
The Bear Has Returned To Cyburbia

Well, I'm back. (Line stealing from Samwise the Hobbit.)

I was released from the University of Michigan's Cancer Center on Friday, 1-28-05. We had to drive back up on Saturday, for follow-up tests....all good. A Sunday appointment was also pencilled-in, in case I needed another blood transfusion, due to platelet counts that were slow to rebound. They did come back so no Sunday trip required.

Will be back all day Monday for more tests and removal of the port from my chest.

Here's how things went.....

I was admitted in early January, on a Friday. They implanted the 3-line port and sent me to my room. 8th floor of the University Hospital, in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. My view for nearly a month was of downtown Ann Arbor, including three (3) major high-rise construction projects. The University Hospital and all the other goodies in the complex employ about 13,000 people. BFH.

On that Friday they started my personal chemo regimen. Different types of chemo were given to me over a five-day period. For those who don't know, chemotherapy is always different for people. Depends on your diagnosis, the spread of your cancer, your age, your body size, etc. So, a pair of 56-year old men with Hodgkin's Lymphoma may be getting entirely different blends. My blend was high-test, non-leaded.

Because of the problems in my gathering of stem cells (mentioned in previous posts) the actual transplant took two (2) days. They had to pump into me nine (9) bags of cells and marrow......five (5) on the first tranny day and four (4) on the second.

I became very ill at about that time.....expected reactions, of course. Katie says that for a couple of days I was saying things that didn't make sense......perhaps a touch of "chemo brain". I don't remember a couple of the days. I know that I had a suitcase filled with books and videos that were barely touched during the entire time.......just didn't feel like it......kind of like a three-week bout of the flu.

My numbers were slow to respond. Finally, about the middle of last week I started to feel better....much better each day. My white cells started to rebuild at a decent rate but a component of the whites was slow and my platelets were very slow in rebuilding.

They have me a platelet transfusion and thought a second would be necessary, but things look better as of today, Sunday, 1-30-05. Katie is continually cleaning everything in our house, because my immune system is very low. Nothing like the smell of Lysol in the morning. My diet for the next 100 days is very restrictive. Everything has to be fully-cooked (no rare steaks), no lettuce, no salad bars stuff, my own individual containers of stuff in the fridge, such as butter, preserves, etc. No older-than 2-days leftovers.

I'am very weak and get tired just taking a shower or walking across the room. I keep kidding Katie that I will be back to work in a week but I know it will be considerably longer.....and when I return I will have to wear a mask when out on the floor, mixing with the troops.

This morning was my first visit with a computer....and Cyburbia, since early in January. It looks like you were down or something? Thanx for all the nice messages. I will try to return to my position as a good resident of your fair community.

Bear
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,300
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44
Great to see you back, Bear. You didn't miss a thing. :b: hoisting one to the north.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,589
Points
34
Bear Up North said:
They had to pump into me nine (9) bags of cells and marrow......five (5) on the first tranny day and four (4) on the second

Bear

TRANNY? What kind of procedure was this??!!

sn99-himatt.jpg


tranny.jpg


That said, BEAR! Its so good to hear from you!
 
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