A very busy day on my schedule 

Wednesday is almost certainly the most hectic day of the week on my schedule, with today as no exception. 

I’m already in the dialysis chair which should end around 10am or just a bit shorter. I will take a break for a lunch or breakfast meal and then it will be on to Dallas for Chemo. Melinda is taking the day off so that she can driive me. Most of my Chemo sessions take place at the Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth, which I really like because its an easy drive from my house and it is usually not crowded and I can get in and out pretty quickly. 

The reason I will be making the longer trip Dallas today is because I will not only Chemo but I have an important meeting with my oncologist, Dr. Larry Anderson, who is based at based there at UT Southwestern, wich owns the aforementioned center in Fort Worth. I except that Dr. Anderson will go over the results of the kidney biopsy I had last week. Of course I hope that he has good news and that I can transition away from Chemo and towards Stem Cell Transplant surgery, which I will explain as I get closer to it. 

What’s the deal the Dialysis?  

Dialysis is a medical procedure that is cloaked in more mysterie than Bigfoot and Amelia Earhart. It’s a process that has been around extended lives for many years, but yet not much is known about what really happens behind the doors of a dialysis ficilty.

I am not an expert but I will do my best explain what I see from my viewpoint.

My technician getting my machine for my dialysis session.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:45am, I will sitting in my “chair” at my dialysis center in Arlington, just a few minutes from my house. It’s as true and easy too predict as the mail. The only day it’s the center closed is Christmas.  Rain, sleet or snow it does not matter because most all centers have backup power to make sure treatments get done. The treatments have to get done because life and death are depending on it. 

Simply put, when kidneys can not longer function the chances are high you will need Dialysis to do the job for you. My kidney failure is being cause my cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Without dialysis I would die. There is no other way around it.

When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance:

  • removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body
  • keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate
  • helping to control blood pressure

There are many dialysis centers to chose from. Most major hospitals will also house a center treatment, if fact the unit at UT Southwestern in Dallas saved my life because I needed immediate treatment due to toxins in my body that I could not get rid on my own and it was dialysis to the rescue!

There are many dialysis centers to consider, and in my search location was very important because a dialysis treatment is described as going as an equivalent as a 10k race an so you don’t want a long drive after a secession. After trying a few locations I cloose a center operated by American Renal Associates and it’s been a wise choice. 

I have found the people who work the centers to be, as a whole, good people and professional at what that they do.  They really care about you a patient and a person. I have never run across an employee I felt shouldn’t we working there and that makes for a good atmosphere for everyone. 

The center I has a about 25 beds, give or take, and they are all pretty much in use at most times. There are about 7 or 8 technicians who are very quick to respond when you need them, of if one of the mechines sounds an altert that it needs attention for some reason. There are also 1 to 2 full full time Registered Nurse’s on duty at all times and they serves as “the boss”.  The center also a has still a social worker and dietitian on staff and I have found them very useful. 

A least once a week you can expect a visit from your doctor, who works for the center. A doctor who specializes in kidneys is called a Nephrologist wich comes term  comes from the Greek word “nephros”, which means kidney or renal and “ologist” refers to someone who studies.

So let’s try and explain, in simple terms for me and you too, the Dialysis flow. I arrive at roughly 5:45am and, and after having no my weight and temperature taken I head to my chair, which is assigned and always the same.  I’m greeted by a technician who takes and records my temperature and weighted. The weight is critical because it determines how fluid the machine will “take off” this session. 

I walk to my chair where I will be greeted by my technician to for this treatment, which will likely change from one session to another. Once settled in the chair the procedure of hooking me up to the machine will begin, starting by a blood pressure reading, both sitting and standing. The technician then begins hooking me up to the machine, based on which way access to my blood is used. It’s either going to be a chest catheter or what called a fistula, wich is what I have as the point of dialysis access. 

The fistula is an ugly looking divice which I had surgically installed back in March.  I hate the look of it but I love how easy it makes the Dialysis process run smoothly. Above is an image of a fistula like in this one my arm,  with the entry and exit needles inserted and ready to begin the Dialysis process. 

My arm ready to go for dialysis.

The only part of the entire dialysis process that involves pain is when those needles are inserted, and the technicians know that and are very careful to make it as painless as possible. I’ve never found to be worse than a routine needle insertion. 

The technician will next go through the process of  actually connecting you to the machine, which I don’t know much about about but apparently is nothing more than flipping a few switches. At that point the the clock is running.  

At that point is comes down to how well you can manage the clock, which is clearly visible from any sport in the room and serves at constant how much time you have remaining in your session. Most all people are hooked up to the machine for four hours and the is no way to cheat on the time. It is what it us and I’ve found the best thing to do I’d simply occupy your self and ignore the ticking clock. 

All the chairs come with a TV with enough channels to entertain you, though there not a lot of real popular choices at 6am, I still manage to find something to watch if I choose to. Sleeping? There are times that I sleep I do find it’s difficult to truly sleep with a room full of people.  The chairers also equipped heateted, a very important feature because dialysis treatment tends to make you cold, and seats recline three what to help with comfort. I read, I write, and I talk to the technicians to help pass time too. 

Me looking as relaxed as possible during a recent dialysis treatment.

Finally the machine alarms signaling your time is up! Your technician will begin removing from the machine which will take about ten minutes. They will remove the two needless from your arm and will and will badge it.  A final bood pressure reading is taken from a sitting and standing positions.  The technician will escort you the the weight where a final weight and temperature are taken. If all checks out, you are sent along your way, until the next time. 

Completed Kidney Biopsy 

I hope another step on the road Stem Cell Surgery was accomplished today with the completion of a kidney biopsy procedure.  

Waiting to go in to surgery

The hour long out patient survey took place at UT Southwestern Hospital in Dallas, as was needed to see if my Multiple Myeloma cancer has spread to my heart, a condition known as amyloidoses

The thinking is that it’s safer on Multiple Myeloma patients to do a kidney biopsy rather than a heart biopsy. 

The rusults, which should be available in four to five days, hopefully will show a decrease of amyloidoses, 

Rolling into Kidney Biopsy surgery

enough that I can transition past Chemo and look ahead to stem cell transplant surgery. 

 Latests trip to the Oncologist 

Wednesday was one of those tough days which included a morning dialysis treatment and afternoon chemo. Yes, I was drained at the end of the day, as usual.

Cecil undergoing Chemo treatment. 6-14-17

Just before Chemo I had my monthly  chat with my Oncologist, doctor Larry Anderson , Oncology specialist at UT Southwestern in Dallas. The only oncologist in North Texas to exclusively treat plasma cell cancers, he sees about 90 percent of the Multiple Myeloma patients who come to UT Southwestern .

Melinda and I are very comfortable with him because he shoots straight and keeps us informed. 

Cecil undergoing Chemo treatment. 6-14-17

 I was hoping that he would tell us the Chemo treatments are done with because I had progressed so far. Instead he told us that he wants to do a Kidney Biopsy because he wants to be 100% sure the Cancer has not spread to, and is effecting my heart. A condition known as Cardiac amyloidosis. The somewhat positive feeling l have about this is neither Dr. Anderson or my Cardiologist have a strong feeling I have this but since I have multiple myeloma cancer the only way to tell safely is a kidney biopsy. 

So, I will be told in the next week or when I will have that procedure and when I know you will know too 🤣. 

Surgery went well. For the most part. 

I have my port. To be specific I have my Power Port. The surgery to remove my chest catheter and install the port went well the other day, but not without a few bumps in the road. 

My son Evan was my ride for the day because I had very strict instructions that I would not be able to drive after the procedure. 

The appointment was for 9am, with the actual surgery for 11am and things were going well to start as I got checked into a nice room at UT Southwestern complete with a TV.  My nurse, Swann, was very nice and got me started with the usual taking of vital signs and so forth. All was good. 

Then, 11am past and became 11:30 and then noon and I started to get a little antsy as well as hungry and thirsty because I was fasting. I asked Evan to open the door because I wanted to reach out to the next person who walked by as to why this was taking so long? So, mI got the attention of the next nurse that walked by and explained my situation and she said she would go check why there was a delay. 

Another nurse, still no Swann, came in and a bit dramatically explained that they were having unforeseen problems with the surgery ahead of me but that it should be “just a bit longer” before they got to me. I inquired what type of procedure the person with the problems was having and she said the same as mine. Now I was late and nervous. 

Noon became 1pm and my hunger and thirst continued to grow, plus I imagined a team of doctors struggling to keep the poor person ahead of me alive. On top of that, Evan was watching soccer! 

Now i’m getting a bit angry and told the nurse that I needed a firm time or I would just reschedule the whole thing. Then I got to thinking that the main reason to get the port installed was so that I could take a shower for the first time since being in the hospital back in January. So, saying I wanted to come back another time was indeed a bluff. It wasn’t working anyway because I was told these things happen and they want to give the patient having issues the needed focus. I couldn’t argue with that. 

Finally, at around 2:30, they came to get me. Naturally I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get things going. 

The surgery itself was pretty routine with one interesting tidbit. The doctor performing the procedure kept asking me if we had met before becaus my name was familiar and so was my voice. Then he asks if I had been in this hospital and went thru some confusion. I said said yes and he said that was it and that he was the one who installed the chest catheter back in January and that he remembered me because I was really sick and having a rough time. He said, “you look a lot better than you did that day”. 

They knocked me out and an hour later I had my port! 

Busy day in my world. 

I woke up feeling pretty good today and it’s a good thing because I will need all my strength to feel the same at the end of the day. 

It’s just after 6am and I am sitting in the Dialysis chair having driven the 3 milies to my treatment center. I’ll talk about dialysis in a future blog post in detail but for now just know that I go Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at around 5:30am and each session is 4 hours. 

I also have a Chemo treatment today, which is scheduled for 11:15am at the Moncrief Cancer Center in downtown Fort Worth. 

It’s s not at all unusual to have Dialysis and Chemo on the same day and in fact i’m accustomed to it on Wednesday and Thursday back to back. What is out of the ordinary is that time of today’s Chemo is a challenge for several reasons. I will get out of Dialysis around 9:50am and then rush home to grab a quick bite to eat which my body needs. I will also take my morning medications that Melinda will have left out for me. Then I will head out the door for the 15 minute drive to Chemo. 

The big key is how I feel after Dialysis because I will always feel tired but i’m hoping it doesn’t leave me also leave me wiped out to the point of making driving a challenge. Usually my Chemo treatments are at 1:30 or 2pm which allows my body time to recover from the morning Dialysis. 

I should get out of Chemo around 1:30 today and I will head home for what will likely be a much needed nap. 

Welcome to my blog 

Melinda thinks it’s a good idea to start my blog, probably to ease the pain on her ears as I blab away about battle with my cancer, Multiple Myeloma. Lol. That’s not true, but I do feel a desire to have a platform to keep family and friends informed and so rather than clog up Facebook with my thoughts I’d rather do it this way. 

I don’t know how often I will write. Maybe daily, maybe less. I think the disease my have a lot to say about that. But I do know I need your participation to make it worthwhile so please join the blog and leave feedback on my posts, as you have been doing on Facebook. It’s very important to me as I try to live with and despite of this terrible disease.