Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's a Marathon. I don't like Marathons

Dr. Berenson likes to say that myeloma treatment is now a marathon and not a sprint. There's a lot of treatment options. Right now we've got a good maintenance routine going and I feel great. Well aside from the crash from dex that has left me with roid rage today. I take another steroid, Medrol, at home, so today it's a double whammy. Coming off the dex high and on the medrol high. Think I'm in control of my emotions today? Guess again. The last couple of treatments, the post dex crash has been hard. Harder than usual. Not sure what's up with that. Number wise, nothing has changed. Everything looks good. I'm a little low on blood right now, but I'm used to it. Tomorrow is my monthly 24 hour urine collection. This is pretty common for myeloma patients. We'll get results later in the next week and Friday is my monthly Berenson visit. I am hoping that my hemoglobin jumps up a bit, so I don't need to go in for a procrit shot this week.  I've dropped about 25 pounds over the past year. And it turns out that with less belly fat, the procrit shot in the stomach hurts a bit more now. Mind you I'm quite used to being poked, but if I can skip a shot, all the better.

Today I did go the gym. My plan was weights for upper body, followed by lap swimming for maybe 20 minutes. My workouts are pretty routinized. They need to be. But, damn it, the pool today was invaded by water aerobics. The entire pool! Can't they leave one lane for swimming?  Right there, a bad start to the day. I absolutely plan to lay low today, The couch and directv are my best friends today.

Back about ten years ago or maybe more. Yes definitely more. Let's say 14 years ago I was training for the LA Marathon. I was a pretty avid runner. I had good stamina, some speed, some strength.  The way marathon training works is every week you have one long run. Each week that you get closer to the marathon, your long run gets longer.  I was about a month away from the marathon and was able to crank out a 20 miler. My last long run before the marathon was going to be a 23 mile run. I usually ran on my own. But for the 23 mile run I ran with a group of experienced marathon runners. I'd never run a marathon before. Suffice it to say their pace during the 23 mile run was quick. Quicker than I was used. I did my darndest to keep up with them. By mile 18, I hit the wall. I was beat. I tried to keep going, but it was too late. There was no way I'd keep up with the other runners. I did persevere and finish that training run. But it was agony. I walked. I ran. My feet hurt. My hips hurt. I was miserable. I was cussing all the way to the end of that training run. 3 weeks before the LA Marathon. But that training run made me hate running. It was such a horrible experience. So when the marathon day arrived, I opted not to run. In fact, I didn't once get a training run in after that 23 mile run. Not even a short 3 or 4 miler. I was done with running. Since then I've run maybe 5 times total. There was a hung over 10k in St Louis one St Patricks day a few years back. And I've given it a shot a few other times.  It's hard to explain, but the nastiness of that training run sapped my love of running.  I shouldn't have tried to keep up with the other runner's pace. Lesson learned.

So when Dr. B talk about myeloma being a marathon, I am reminded of my inability to follow through and finish the one other marathon I planned on doing.  Mind you, I didn't plan on doing the myeloma marathon. It was rudely slapped on me. So in this case, I don't really have a choice, I need to follow through with this marathon. No stopping.  I'm a fairly big fan of track and field. The Olympics? Love em.  I like the middle distances, such as the 800 meters.  It's a combo of speed, strength and stamina. The 400 used to be like that, but now it's basically an extended sprint. The mile or 1,500 meter is pretty darn fun to watch as well. In high school I did run track a couple of years. But I did the long jump and triple jump. What slow Jewish kid with no hops would do those two events? Me.  Meanwhile just messing around on my own, I could run a mile in the low 5 minutes. Why I didn't focus on the mile is a mystery. Why I do a lot of stuff is a mystery. I'm not sure how my brain balances the rational and the irrational.

The port has a summer program where we bring in high school students for  a summer job and to provide some mentorship.  I was asked to participate and fought hard against it. Me a mentor? Ha! Learn from my mistakes. Plus I thought I was too busy to deal with a high school student. I was convinced to participate in the program. A specific student was identified for me. She's a recent graduate, will be attending UCLA in the fall, has volunteered at Long Beach Memorial Hospital and generally seems like the kind of over achiever that I'm not. I figure I can learn something from her. She started the other day and so far so good. Maybe I can be a mentor. But what is interesting, in an orientation for mentors a couple of weeks ago, we were asked to stand and say who our mentor was. Everyone stood up and was able to identify someone immediately. A parent, a boss, a teacher. Me? I was stumped. Who has been my mentor? I really struggled to come up with someone. Is it too late for me to find a mentor?

And I guess that brings back to the marathon analogy.  I'm 51. I have an incurable cancer. Turning back the clock is out of the question. This is where I'm at in the race. Ironically a marathon is just over 26 miles. 26.2 miles to be exact. I'm at just over 26 months since my diagnosis. 26 months and 4 days. Sounds like that is close to 26.2 months since my diagnosis. Like I said, my mood today is impacted by my most recent treatment. But I need to change my pace. I need to refocus on my stride. I need a target. I need an event. Follow me? Or am I making no sense here?

I'm going to keep going. Steady movement is key. No wasted movement is also key. I can't waste energy on non vital crap.

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Berenson Oncology Success Rate

 Some reading about my myeloma specialist's success rate. A press release and an article from Targeted Oncology.