Monday, November 05, 2012

Bendamustine & rituximab, round four

My latest round of B-R ended almost three weeks ago and was pretty uneventful as these things go. Last week's blood work put my hemoglobin at 11.3, platelets at 205. My absolute lymphocyte count is 0.4, which the lab report describes as "low." 

The infusions were uneventful, and I had only mild nausea for one day. The most noticeable side effect was fatigue that lasted longer than usual. It dragged on for a couple of weeks this time; Dr. Droll says this is because the longer you do chemo, the more cumulative the effect.

Lymph nodes continue to reduce. I now weigh 170, which I have not weighed since sometime in the 1980s. I've lost about 25 pounds since starting B-R. I think most of this can be attributed to loss of lymph node and associated weight. I don't expect to achieve complete clearance of the nodes with B-R -- unless I do 10 rounds, which I won't be; the protocol stops at six. But it will knock the nodes back to, let's say, 2006 levels. I've made an appointment with CLL expert Dr. Thomas Kipps in January to discuss ways to protect and extend the remission.

Speaking of protecting and extending, tomorrow is election day. If worse comes to worse and I should need a stem cell transplant, which my insurance doesn't cover, there are two futures awaiting me.

If Obama wins, I will be able to choose a plan under the health care exchanges set to come online about a year from now; I won't be rejected because of my pre-existing condition, and I should be able to find an affordable plan that covers transplants and is superior in many other ways to the one I am stuck with now.

If Romney wins and repeals the Affordable Care Act, I guess I'll have to take the candidate's advice and go to the emergency room, where I can demand a stem cell transplant and then be laughed out the door.

You know how I'm voting; I hope you'll vote with me for the the president, who represents the better angels of our nature.