Laird Schaub | CaringBridge

Laird Schaub Laird's Health Updates

First post: 2/16/2016 Latest post: 3/29/2017
We will use this space to share updates on Laird's health.

The following is excerpted from Laird's blog. (http://communityandconsensus.blogspot.com/2016/02/time-to-slow-down.html)

I've been battling chronic back pain for 16 months, and acute lower back pain since mid-December. As I have been through previous episodes of this since its first occurrence in October 2014, I've been treating it similarly and expecting it to settle down with the help of prescription medicine and bed rest.

But after 6+ weeks of yo-yoing back and forth between almost functional and can-hardly-get-out-of-bed-to-pee, I finally faced the fact that I needed help beyond what my own body could provide, and went to the ER at St Luke's Hospital in downtown Duluth on Jan. 31. It turned out to be a good thing that I did.

As soon as we got past the admittance dance (how do you spell that last name again?) and I could lie down in a bed (the pain all but disappears when I'm prone but is excruciating when sitting or standing), things started picking up steam. The ER doc, Scott Wolf, quickly had me relate my history and ordered blood work. My blood pressure was 98/56, which is abnormally low for me, and testing revealed that I was down about a quart. Not good. Further, there was gobs of calcium in the blood and everyone agreed it was time to admit me to the hospital. 

Before I had a room assigned I was whisked off to x-ray and the doc who read the film (Nick) noticed that my bones were thinning and showed the characteristic pattern of calcium leaching—hence the elevated levels floating around in my blood. The preliminary diagnosis is multiple myeloma, a form of cancer in which the body produces abnormal plasma cells. Not only does these cells reduce the number of useful red cells, white cells, and platelets (that help with clotting), they also weaken the bones.

The diagnosis was preliminary and there is much testing to follow—even if the cancer diagnosis is confirmed, it comes in different presentations and the doctors need to know how far long it is before prescribing treatment.

I'm starting to get the picture that I'm facing a serous health threat. While I don't yet know the full dimensions of it, I've been gradually digging myself a hole for quite a while now and it's time to start working my way out of it.

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