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Journal entry by Renee Allen — 7/29/2016
This is incredibly difficult to write, and hard to find a starting place. I suppose if it was easy, there would not be a need for the Caring Bridge notification website in the first place.
As many of you know, Rick has been struggling with un-defined health issues over the last few months. He has visited several doctors that have treated individual symptoms by adjusting meds and recommending procedures to help with joint pain. A devastating series of events came crashing down for Rick beginning the week of July 11. Rick was in a great deal of pain in his legs, and feeling extremely exhausted and chose to stay home from work most of that week. On Monday July 18, Rick again, stayed home from work. It was a very hot and humid day, which only exacerbated his fatigue. As he was leaving the house to go to the pharmacy, he collapsed in our front yard, and thankfully, I came home to check on him but not before a couple of hours had passed. That afternoon, Rick was transported to North Memorial.
Before going further, I need to give a huge, huge shout out to the capable team of Engine 14, Minneapolis Fire Department; Captain Darrin Gregory; Firefighters James Cheney, Michael Pentz and Jeremiah Wickenhauser and to the caring and knowledgeable Paramedics and ER staff at North Memorial. Thank you! Your efficiency, compassion and skill did not go unnoticed and was so greatly appreciated.
After being stabilized in the ER, Rick was admitted into the hospital to begin the journey of assessing his situation and figuring out the what and whys. He was moved to several different areas of the hospital over the next few days, picking up an incredible team of doctors who deciphered the innumerable blood draws, bone scans and tests.
On July 24, we met with doctors to hear their diagnosis. It was difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of the information but their presentations of the facts were understandable and straight forward.
Rick has been diagnosed with cancer. In a nut shell and plagiarized from a brochure - Multiple myeloma is a cancer of certain cells of the bone marrow called plasma cells. Multiple myeloma is a rare form of bone marrow cancer.Plasma cells normally produce our antibodies. Multiple myeloma features abnormal proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow, destructive bone lesions, and the production of abnormal proteins, specifically antibodies.Multiple myeloma is also referred to simply as myeloma. Multiple myeloma causes a host of organ problems and symptoms. Common early symptoms of multiple myeloma include: fatigue, bone pain, bone fracture, susceptibility to infection, kidney failure.
This is it – I said it. The words are out there now. Multiple Myeloma.
If you want to read more, the doctors recommended anything written by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
For those of you that have known Rick for many, many years, your first question may be very similar to what mine was. Does this have anything to do with the gallons upon gallons of plasma he received though apheresis when he fought bouts of TTP. The answer; no, BUT as chemo begins to kill off Rick’s immune system, the possibility for TTP to take hold again is very possible because one of the leading dangers for TTP to develop is infection. A simple cold could invite TTP back. It is a reality we will have to address if it occurs and not something to worry about right now.
Rick is stage 3 (most serious) and high risk. Multiple Myeloma is an incurable and fairly rare cancer that is most seen men of his age group but doctors have had success in controlling its aggressive nature, and have been able to allow many patients an extended quality of life. Rick has a good team of physicians; some have seen him through the dark days of TTP and know his history well. Others, like his Oncologist are new to Rick but well versed in treating this disease. They have given us the option and referral to Mayo to seek a second opinion where the leading experts are currently practicing. Rick is confident in the team he has and has put his trust in their education, training and experience and does not want to seek additional opinions. His chemo treatments will be once a week at North Memorial on an out-patient basis for the foreseeable future. A bone marrow transplant could be an option later if the Chemo delays or halts the progression.
The current challenge is to slow the leaching of calcium from Rick’s bones into his bloodstream, which will help with some of the pain, confusion, disorientation and exhaustion he has been experiencing over the last several months. The other focus is to allow his kidneys time to recover some normal renal function.
We have each, together and while alone, had our quiet times of sadness and sorrow, anticipating losses not yet fully defined but Rick is Rick and is for the most part in good spirits and full of his usual over the top humor, although he tires quickly. He is currently on the Atrium Oncology floor (6th) at North Memorial and on 7/28 has received his first round of chemo, which went well.
The current plan is for him to be released very soon from North to a re-hab care facility where he can regain some of his lost strength with the ultimate goal of being able to return home.
That’s it for now. I am sure I will think of plenty I could have or should have included in this first entry. It is a lot to digest. Please send Rick healing prayers and thoughts of comfort and ease.
You are important to Rick. Thanks for walking beside him.
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