Saturday, May 11, 2024

Weeks 12 through 15: V+O procedure

Dear family, friends, and other leukemia patients:

I feel like I have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride the past month. I recovered from the weeks of intestinal issues with some of the best blood work I have had in over 15 years. I was managing what little fatigue I had and was walking. I got to enjoy my son’s PhD graduation with a celebration party. I felt like I was settling into a “new normal” that was manageable on 400 mg of venetoclax.

With the new iPhone app (Libre 3) that is tied to my glucose monitor, I am able to see in real time when my glucose level goes high or low. I was particularly interested in seeing what happens after I had my infusion, since my friend Addie said that her nephew Steven saw an increase in glucose levels when he took steroids during his leukemia treatment. She said after he stopped using steroids, his glucose level returned to normal and he was no longer pre-diabetic. She found an article in the AARP Bulletin from April 2024 discussing how a simple steroid injection can raise sugar levels. I am hoping that within months of stopping the steroids I can have a more normal glucose level. I do not want to be diabetic!

On Week 14 (04/23/24) I had my next-to-last Obinutuzumab infusion. Right after the two-bag steroid infusions, my glucose level rose from a little over 100 mg/dl to 275 mg/dl!

May 28th will be my last monoclonal infusion! I will still need to continue on the oral meds for two years to hopefully reach remission. This treatment is a marathon, not a sprint.

I graded all my university student finals. Those wonderful students keep my brain working. LOL. I drove myself to the infusion center and back, which I felt was quite an accomplishment. I was able to do that since I have done very well with infusions, and I do not get Benadryl with the treatment. My blood work was the best it has been in years (4.5k normal WBC, etc.).

The next week I had the highest white blood count (WBC) since the treatment began January 2nd(11.4k), which is slightly above normal. I was dealing with intestinal (lower left side) soreness and fatigue. Fatigue for cancer patients is unlike any other fatigue. It is all-consuming and your body has no choice but to shut down to heal. I would take a 5-hour afternoon nap, wake up for two hours and then sleep nine hours at night. I listen to my body. When my body says, “Sleep,” I sleep. I did not walk all week.

So, how am I feeling? Not completely myself, but I am managing. I believe I have a purpose and I am not done yet. We all make choices in our lives. We either get busy dying or we get busy living. I am getting busy living.

Dr. La Verne

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