Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The beginning of a new beginning

And so it begins.  Mayo Clinic called last Thursday, Oct. 10.  Ria and I were driving home and I heard my cell phone.  The voice was Brittany, the lady from Mayo who I've been talking to whose team has been telling me every week "we're talking with your insurance company".  My insurance company contacted them early Thursday morning and provided the final approval that everyone was waiting for.  "You're scheduled to start your stem cell bone marrow transplant on Oct. 30".  Here it is, right in front of me (snapshots below of the schedule, it's 29 pages long!), the long-term solution.  After Ria and I met with Dr. Gertz last Aug. 12, we said then, "the best timing would be end of October, something like Oct. 30, so that we could be home before Christmas".  You sometimes get what you ask for.  I just looked at my schedule and the tests will start from Oct. 30.  We'll be in Rochester until approximately Dec. 12.

 I'll be sharing more about what is happening over the next few weeks.  This is my first ever organ transplant so it's a bit scary.  But, after the wild ride of the past 6 months, we're ready for anything and we've always known that this is the solution.  In the meantime, I'll share some numbers that people may find interesting:

26: This is the # of Velcade (Bortezamib) injections I've had since our journey started.  Velcade is the very potent chemotherapy treatment that has helped me to recover so quickly.  To anyone who has had a subcutaneous Velcade injection, I can share your...... well..... experience.  To put it simply, a Velcade injection hurts.  Actually, it REALLY hurts.  It also leaves what looks like a burn mark on your abdomen that stays there for a very long time.  That being said, in the past few months, I've always looked forward to my Velcade injections every Tuesday.  I knew that the chemo was there to help me, so I learned to live with "The Ouch Factor".

22: Years ago that I used to sing in the Holy Name Choir.  Last Sunday, Oct. 13, I watched Nadya and Bianca singing on the same choir chairs that I used to sing in, singing some of the same songs.  I never would have thought all those years ago that my daughters would be up there singing during mass.  

20: Pounds I've lost since this all began in January.  I lost more when I was in the ICU during April and May but I don't want to count that.  I'm still at my high school weight and despite my fairly healthy appetite, I haven't gained much back.  Ria said I'm now at the optimum BMI so let's hope that after the transplant, I can maintain my high school look.

7: Weeks that I will never forget as that is how long I was on dialysis from late April to early June.  I took so many things for granted before, but after losing my kidneys for almost two months, I never realized how lucky I was to gain them back.  I looked back at my GFR scores (the ones that measure kidney function).  The scores were really low from April to mid-May.  They accelerated back to normal function after May 22, my birthday.  Great birthday present don't you think?

6: Months since Ria and I arrived in the USA, went to Mayo Clinic and began this journey.  Seems like a lifetime ago!  In some ways, it's a new lifetime as thanks to God, a whole lot of prayers, and some fantastic doctors and nurses, I made it back from the brink in late April/early May.   

4: The average # of times the nurses tried to get an IV into me for the past two months.  Since I've been having Chemo every week, my veins have started to revolt against having these IVs stuck into them and basically said "You aren't coming in here Mr. IV needle".  Even the best nurses, who used to be able to get the IV to work on the 1st try previously, would miss.  However, last Oct. 8, which was probably my last Chemo session until the transplant (and hopefully, last one ever), my nurse got it on the 1st try.

Innumerable and immeasurable!: The amount of prayers, love, well-wishes and the support that I've received from family, friends, friends of family.  I can't thank all of you enough for helping us get this far.  We still need your prayers for the upcoming months as we go through the bone marrow transplant. Thank you!


  1. Hey Buddy! Praying for a successful transplant....thanks for the update. Hope to see you and Ria plus the kids soon. God bless you and your family.--Yoks

  2. continuously praying for you Buddy and the family! -- jayjay, alex, kyle and denise :)

  3. praying for a smooth procedure and speedy recovery, Bud! send my kisses to Ria and the kids.

  4. Praying for you and your family. God is good all the time. Dino and Quile

  5. We are praying for you daily. We are among the many throughout the world who have been inspired by you and Ria and we have been convinced by the power of prayer. I bring Communion to senior citizens at a nursing home and they are praying for you and I teach a Religious Education class of 5th graders who are praying for you as well. All our love to you both. Ken and Karen