Category Archives: Personal stuff

I haven’t had a woman claw my back like that in a long time!

More doc visits, more tests. Man, if I’d been willing to go to this much trouble when I was racing, with the intent to improve performance, who knows what I could have accomplished! I could have been the next Lance Armstrong! Not.

Wednesday morning was my first-ever visit with a Dermatologist. Not for checking out rogue moles, but to figure out a way to get rid of the itchy skin rashes I’ve had the past year or so. There was some concern they were either a symptom of my ET (Essential Thrombocythemia, a very mild bone marrow cancer) or the medication used to manage. But after taking some samples off my back (the “clawing” I referred to) and examining them under a microscope, it looks more like a simple skin fungus. Who knew.

Because the drug used to clear this up (Lamisil) can tax the liver a bit, I had not only my usual vial of blood drawn, but another two used to figure out how well my liver is actually working. Good news; the average 3-4 drinks I have/year haven’t done any damage. AST, ALT & processing tests all came back in normal range. Not unexpected. The better news is that the increased dosage of Hydroxyurea I’m now on has moved the needle some more, in the right direction, on the Platelet number. That’s what’s shown on the top line in the chart above. Unfortunately, there’s also an expected reduction in WBC & RBC counts, reaffirming that Hydroxyurea is not a performance-enhancing drug. But, trust me on this, EPO is something I hope I never have to make use of, as that would be an indication of some real nasty problems.

Oh, right, since my mom’s reading this- the Dermatologist did check out the various moles & skin discolorations while I was there. Nothing scary. I’m really, really boring. Even that large and gradually-getting-larger one adjacent to my right eye? If I really cared about what it looked like, she could burn it off for me, but hey, how many people’s faces have something that looks like a map showing the gradual spread of the British Empire during colonial times?

Monday’s Doc visit, Tuesday’s ride

While everyone else was outside looking (indirectly) at the eclipse, I was waiting for an appointment with my hematologist/onocologist that was scheduled three months ago, when an eclipse not only would have been the last thing on my mind, but, that far out, August 21st 9:50am wouldn’t have rung any alarm bells. Three months ago, I was, frankly, scared to death, as a series of blood tests were bringing me what seemed, at the time, to be seriously-bad news. Let’s face it, if you have a choice, you’d rather go through life without having to see an oncologist. Yeah, well, that was then, this is now. Unlike that first visit, I almost looked forward to this one, because after the initial bad news, things stabilized, and as I learned more about my particular situation, it seems safe to say that, among bone-marrow cancers, mine (Essential Thrombocythemia with a CALR Type 1 genetic mutation) is the best choice.

My primary concern was adding a platelet-reducing med that’s known to cause heart issues (bad for cycling!) as well as possibly accelerate a progression of the disease to something much worse. I’m not sure my concerns about heart issues held much weight with her, but the possibility of making things worse down the road is tough to argue, plus the specifics of my genetic defect make my bone marrow’s excessive platelet production less dangerous. In the end I settled for an increased dosage of my daily poison (chemo drug) and, best of all, move from a weekly blood test to monthly. So sure, I missed the eclipse, but gained confidence that I’ve got my bone marrow issue under control. Sure, I’m still producing too many platelets, but it’s fewer than before and it’s rock-solid stable, nothing scary happening. Even my hematocrit is returning to normal levels.

Not to say I felt super strong on the Tuesday-morning ride though! There might have been some effect from the increased dose of my chemo drug, but more likely it was just a high-gravity day. Thankfully, both Marcus and JR were kind to me on Kings and set a pretty easy pace, easy enough that I could even carry on a conversation most of the way up. No fog on top so I was a bit over dressed, but I’d rather be a bit warm than cold. Older Kevin is off on a bike ride in Spain while younger Kevin still has another two weeks off the bike while his arm heels. They missed a really nice day on the regular ride.

The Sunflower picture? No excuse needed, ever, for pictures of Sunflowers!