We brought my husband Jerry to a doctor for back problems beginning in late 2009.  Jerry returned early from Florida to Indiana in February 2010 and saw Dr. John R. Alessi in Nashville, IN. He referred Jerry to a physical therapist who seemed to get him walking again.

The next year in Feb. 2011 Jerry had a consultation with Southwest Florida Neurological Assocs. in Ft. Myers where they performed a thoracic & lumbar MRI. The MRI revealed two crushed vertebrae at L-1 and T-11. Jerry also lost more than two inches in height.

In the spring of 2011, as a result of his Welcome-to-Medicare physical, Dr. Alessi referred Jerry to Dr. Michael Mak, a hematologist/oncologist at Columbus Regional Hospital (CRH) after noting a WBC-14.1; RBC-3.93; Hgb-13.5; Hct-39.6; MCV-100.8; MCH-34.3; MCHC-34. Dr. Mak diagnosed him with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) on 8/12/2011 after the excision of a groin lymph node at CRH, plus other tests. Treatment began with 4 weeks of Rituxan chemotherapy and then waiting 6 months for the next round of treatments.

We were in Florida from October 31, 2011-April 6, 2012, and Jerry could still swim copious laps and bicycle around the coop where we own a home in Bonita Springs, FL. He played Pinochle, bridge, cribbage, friendly competitive Bocce, swam, and joined the Old Spokes cyclists occasionally. He finished his latest children’s book last winter.

This year Dr. Mak changed the lymphoma treatments to every other month based on new research findings. This year Jerry’s first treatment with Rituxan after we came back to Indiana was April 10, 2012, and his last treatment with Rituxan was June 5, 2012. On Saturday, June 9, 2012, Jerry swam his usual 90 laps in the Brown Co. Y pool and then presented with a fever that afternoon.

On Monday afternoon Jerry visited Dr. Alessi who prescribed antibiotics (including Cefdinir and 800 mg. Ibuprofen) thinking it was the flu. The fever would barely let up and on June 19th, Dr. Mak admitted Jerry into CRH with failed liver and kidneys. Jerry was discharged June 25th and went home with a prescription for Prednisone which he took through June 29th. Fever presented itself again on Sunday morning July 1st around 12 noon. On July 3rd Dr. Mak requested a CBC and on the 9th he performed a bone marrow biopsy with more labs on July 13th and 23rd and on July 30 Dr. Mak told us of the multiple myeloma diagnosis.

He called Dr. Abonour at Jerry’s request and Jerry scheduled an appointment with him August 1. Then CRH Cancer Center scheduled the first Velcade/Dex treatment for August 2. Velcade/Dex was administered August 2, 6, 10, 13, 28, 31, September 4, 7, 18, 21, and 25 with only Dexamethasone on the 28th due to low platelets. After the second cycle, Dr. Mak referred Jerry to Dr. Samantha Schwartzkopf with symptoms of edema, rapid pulse, and breathlessness. An EKG, CatScan of chest, and stress cardiogram were performed.

On Monday, October 1 Dr. Mak performed another bone marrow biopsy. Jerry met with Dr. Abonour on Tuesday, October 2, and came back for a PetScan on October 5. The relentless fever has presented itself all along, doused by the Dexamethasone (2 days) but recurring as soon as the Dex wears off. We are controlling the fever with Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, taking one of each about twice per 24 hours. Because of moderately severe back pain, Jerry also takes oxycodone to take as needed. He averages one 5 mg. tablet per day. His bleeding and thin-skinned arms are healing but the edema of his stomach and especially his lower extremities continues, currently abating on his left side. He wears Ted hose very often. CRH tested his legs by sonar for blood clots and found none. His neuropathy in his hands is lessening but he continues to have little feeling in the soles of his feet. He eats willingly and always has water or 100% juice available.

Jerry loves a good movie at home or a good book. He goes with me to the Brown Co. YMCA, but usually has energy for very little activity except checking the web while I do my synchronized swimming laps. His vitamins, minerals and medications taken daily: 1 20 mg. omeprazole magnesium for his hiatal hernia 2-400 mg. acyclovir 1-1000 mg. Equate antacid calcium carbonate 1-400 mg. Vitamin E 2-500 mg. Vitamin C 2-99 mg. Potassium Gluconate 1-1000 IU Vitamin D3 2-400 mg. Magnesium with a bit of Zinc 1-Equate Complete Multivitamin Medication taken on the second day of the chemotherapy: Dexamethasone—20 mg. Medication for Osteoporosis: Zometa monthly Analgesics for fever and opiate for pain: Acetaminophen-500 mg. each Ibuprofen-200mg. each Oxycodone-5 mg. each Ailments since June 9, 2012 or hospitalization June 19-25, 2012: 1. Sacra-iliac pain radiating to the legs 2. Neuropathy with slight tingling in fingers but little feeling on the soles of Jerry’s feet 3. Trembling on the left side since the hospital stay (Jerry’s left-handed.) 4. Edema especially in legs and across stomach area which has abated 5. Bruised, bleeding arms (healing now), perhaps due to platelet shortage 6. Shortness of breath (of longer duration than June 9, 2012, and probably due to anemia) 7. Fever (started June 9, 2012) and is abating October 7-8, 2012! We’re waiting to see if it holds. 8. Jerry has new itching of the loose skin all around his feet as the edema subsides.

 — Martha W.

Tagged with →