What are those pictures in the header, you may well ask:

Stem cell transplant -- Summer 2006From June 20 – July 10, 2006, I underwent a stem cell transplant in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. More precisely, the transplant procedure (a re-infusion of my own presumably myeloma-free blood cells after a single massive dose of the chemo drug melphalan) took only a short while; the remainder of my lovely hospital stay was given over to my reaction to and recuperation from same. Here I am, photographed by my friend Ted Adams, sometime after July 4, in the wake of an impressive infection I managed to acquire during the period when my immune system, as it was bound to do, cratered out. Nice nose hose, eh? This was after the fever broke and the psychosis passed and I no longer believed I was being hunted by policemen from outer space. More on that later.

A highly magnified view of a Bence Jones protein crystal. (I’m pretty sure the colors are not natural, but are due to tinting performed in lab tests.) This is a monoclonal protein, one of those produced in malignant over-abundance in myeloma patients. When the doctor finds this in your urine sample, it’s bad news. Named after Dr. Henry Bence Jones, who first published his findings on the protein in England in 1848, making what appears to be the first connection to its presence in the urine and blood of patients suffering from what was then called “mollities ossium,” (severe weakening of the bones).

Yours truly, vacationing in Ottawa, Canada (with Parliament Hill in the background) in July 2007, one year after my transplant. I look a little better here, I think. I was in complete remission at the time, and greatly enjoying my opportunities for travel. And now I trust the photographic progression from left to right in the header above  is clear.