In my own case, I began an aggressive program of treatment that first winter, including radiation, thalidomide, and heavy doses of a steroid called dexamethasone. And about 40 daily mg of OxyContin, in lovely 12-hour time-release pills, to help with the pain of my crumbling lower vertebrae. Aside from the synthetic opiates, the treatment (aka induction therapy) made me perfectly miserable, but monthly tests proved that the malignant cells in my blood were being slowly reduced. By the summer of 2006, I was ready for my peripheral blood stem-cell transplant (PBSCT, or commonly just SCT, and often still misleadingly referred to as a “bone marrow transplant”), which brought me to a complete remission less than one year after that initial diagnosis. Happy times.
True to its stubborn nature, the myeloma reasserted itself unmistakably by late-summer 2009, and I am, at this time of writing, back in outpatient treatment, taking new drugs in new doses, and trying not to abuse those painkillers whenever my crippled back flares up. There’s not much else I can do aside from following doctors’ orders. Minor complications aside (like the ruptured bowel that almost killed me in November 2009), my response to treatment has been more positive than elsewise.
In the meantime….
In an attempt to maintain some sort of control over my life, I began, on that first fun-filled diagnosis day in 2005, scribbling notes and drafts for what I continue to hope will be a finished memoir of my experience with this disease. The title, Marrow Me, came quickly. The book itself, less so. I can blame my procrastination on many things: medication, the enervating symptoms of myeloma itself, and, more truthfully, such personal character flaws as laziness, fear of self-display, a hopeless tendency towards distraction, and a strong desire to think about myeloma as little as possible. It is work in progress, but progess it is. I may yet finish the damn thing. Check back and see.