Saturday, November 29, 2008

Must-see movie: Young@Heart

If you're in the market for some inspiration (especially if you're challenged by age or illness), check out the amazing documentary Young@Heart. It's about a senior cover band that tours the world performing the Rolling Stones, the Talking Heads, and all kinds of other music you don't normally associate with people over 75. They're awesome! (You can rent the film from Netflix or purchase some of their past shows at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Neutrophil delight

Unless you're a lab tech or hematologist, or have a blood disorder, chances are you don't know how many neutrophils you have. (Those are the white blood cells that miraculously fight infection.) As someone who's often dangerously short of them (it's called being "neutropenic"), I decide whether or not to go to the movies, wear a mask to the grocery store, or get my teeth cleaned depending on how many of these little guys are in my blood on any given day.

Today, I was thrilled to find out that my neutrophils have almost doubled since last Friday which means that even though I'm still immune-suppressed, I don't have to be quite so worried about going out and about. PLUS, my red blood cells are holding firm which means I can probably make it through the holiday without a transfusion. Happy Tofurky, everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Here's to oncology nurses!

I just came from the clinic, having had another transfusion which I hope will carry me through the holiday. Today, as always, I was so grateful for the wonderful nurses at Medical Faculty Associates. Like so many oncology nurses who have treated me over the years--both in D.C. and in Seattle--this group is unfailingly competent, kind, compassionate, and hard-working. There may be a multitude of problems in the healthcare system, but oncology nurses aren't one of them. This picture is of Katie. Not shown, but just as appreciated, are Kirstin, Theresa, Paula, and Kathy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another reason not to eat meat

Although there's already abundant evidence that meat production is horrifyingly cruel, Tuesday's New York Times had yet another article about terrible abuses at the slaughterhouse. If you don't stop eating meat for your health or the environment, consider the horrors that are routine in meat production. And even if your Thanksgiving turkey is free-range and organic, do you know how it was treated at the end of its life?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another challenge for Obama--healthcare crisis

Excellent editorial in today's NYT about how poorly the U.S. medical system compares to those of other countries. The piece talks about medical errors, test duplication, lack of after-hours care, and how prohibitive costs keep some chronically ill folks from getting care.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who needs pumpkin pie?

I've been dealing with a lot of fatigue lately--don't know if it's the chemo or the leukemia. But thanks to a couple of pumpkins on our porch, the squirrels have been keeping me amused.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A bit more of fall

The rains are hitting D.C. pretty bad right now and I'm afraid we'll lose all our gorgeous gold and red leaves. So here's a pic from a walk John and I took along the Potomac last Sunday. A gorgeous day--possibly our last for a while.

Happy Birthday to the world's best sister!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Oh, she's got the fever...Fever all through the night..."

Remember Bruce Springsteen's song The Fever? It's been floating through my head all day. Not a surprise given that my recent Vidaza injections seem to bring on evening fevers. Fortunately, John and I have been through this fever routine so many times that we're getting a better handle on when we can manage it at home. As Leonard Cohen has so beautifully sung, Hallelujah! Staying out of the hospital is Goal Number One.

Here's a good one: Not enough fat!

Just a quick note to let you all know that I've restarted round 4 of Vidaza. (I'm taking the Vidaza in injection form now rather than as an infusion since my arm is still recovering from the slipped IV last week.) My nurse keeps commenting that I don't have enough stomach fat to protect me from the needle sticks. I find that amusing and gratifying at the same time. Although I know I'm skinny because of my disease, I can't help but enjoy it on a certain level. American women all grow up desperate to be thin. Too bad I couldn't get here another way!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My successful escape

It took my sister's lawyerly diplomacy and the kindness of a third-year medical student to bust me out of the hospital last night. The different teams taking care of me didn't agree on a treatment plan and a mix-up in orders to the radiology department resulted in my staying an unnecessary extra night. (No wonder healthcare costs are out of control.) While I've had some excellent hospital care over the years for which I am eternally grateful, I've also seen some serious flaws with the system. It's frighteningly clear that one needs to double-check things whenever possible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How I spent election night

Just so you don't get the idea that I spend all my time hiking, kayaking, and eating out, I'm blogging tonight from George Washington University Hospital.

I checked in yesterday afternoon with a fever following a mishap with my chemo treatment on Monday. Fortunately, I think I'm OK again and should be able to go home Thursday or Friday.

The good news is that I got to vote--thanks to something called an emergency absentee ballot. And although we missed a lot of the election celebration, we could hear folks cheering in the streets outside our room.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More on breast cancer

Not that we really need any more evidence, but here's more confirmation that keeping one's weight down and exercising can help fight breast cancer. There's a new study on weight and another on exercise.

(Of course, if you know me, you probably already know that a vegetarian or vegan diet can help with the weight!)