Embracing the new normal/today’s visit with the Oncologist

Friday’s blood test on the left; today’s visit with the Coffee Queen, who just happens to be outside my Oncologist’s office, on the right.
Last Friday was my monthly blood test day; not that big a deal anymore as I’ve gotten used to just looking away and staying calm while they stick the needle in, and thankfully I got the best of the best that day. I really should get her name. I did let her know that someday, maybe, I’d get the nerve to actually watch the process.

Normally the blood tests come back around 2:30pm, but not this time. 6:07pm I think? At least it’s not like the “sitting on pins & needles” feeling I used to get, waiting for the results. Things have stabilized and interpreting the results has become more an academic exercise than a source of fear & trepidation. The results looks solid, not quite spectacular though because I’m still a fair amount off my low platelet reading of a few months ago.

Fast-forward to this morning, a 9:10am visit with my Oncologist. Basically, all good news. Rehash of the bone marrow biopsy a few months ago (nothing to see, move along), discussion of platelet levels (since I’m the CALR mutation, she’s OK with the numbers anywhere in the 500s, so no need to up the dosage of the stuff I take that slows me down on the bike), talked about what she thinks is a relatively-high dose of Hydroxyurea that I’m on and her surprise that I tolerate it so well (but truthfully, I know of quite a few on much higher doses), and that there’s no need for a bone marrow biopsy more often than every 5 years, unless there’s a significant change in response to my current medication levels). Checked spleen size, it’s good.

The best news? No more monthly blood tests! I’m on a 3 month schedule, same as office visits. Not really sure why she needs to see me every three months if there’s no change in the blood work, but my theory is that I’m a quick in & out patient that improves efficiency numbers. 🙂

So everything looks pretty good. I can’t do anything about things I can’t do anything about, so I’m going to continue to struggle on big climbs, I’ll continue to have that occasional ache that comes from the inside of my bones, and I’ll continue to have trouble getting much more than 7 hours of sleep (on days when I’d like to). On, and I’ll continue to be dependent upon Allegra (Fenofexidine) for my sanity; if not for that stuff, I would have clawed all my skin off by now, due to the itching caused by the meds. It could be a lot worse, and it is a lot worse for many with my affliction (Essential Thrombocythemia). Many struggle with extreme fatigue, while I’m still out there doing 112 mile Santa Cruz loops on my bike.


“Pulling Dad Everywhere”???!!! Think he’s forgotten about his roots…

West Old LaHonda looking a bit nicer today than Thursday, when it was fogged in.
Thank goodness back issues don’t have much affect on cycling! I suspect many stay off their bike when they can hardly get out of bed, but it’s simply amazing how kind cycling is to the body. It might have been a bit tougher than normal getting onto or off of the bike a couple times. but that’s about it.

Now, if only you didn’t need lungs in good working order to climb. Then I’d be in great shape!

Today’s ride was reverse Pescadero plus West Alpine, one of Kevin’s favorites. Old LaHonda is still not doing me any favors lately; it’s going to take some time to get back over the 1000VAM (1000 vertical meters of altitude gain/hour) rate. 1 minute, 20 seconds slower than my time exactly a year ago today, which would have been before taking the meds that reduce my hematocrit. How slow was I? 24 minutes, 28 seconds today. Ouch. I’ve got some work to do! Took almost as much time to cross Skyline; literally 5 minutes of cars without a break, caused by a motorcycle-car accident on Skyline just south of us.

The run out to the coast? I was, truthfully, on Kevin’s wheel the entire time. I didn’t even pretend to take a turn at the front. I was just hanging on as he plowed through the headwind. At least I had the decency not to sprint for the Stage Road sign (although after reading Kevin’s Strava post title, “Pulling Dad Everywhere”, maybe I should have?).

We didn’t have an especially-strong tailwind heading south on Stage Road, but still got a bit of a push. Kevin thinks it’s easier riding Stage south-to-north; I much prefer north-to-south (as we did today).

Pasty face test? Looks more like a mask…
Cookies? Where are the cookies in Pescadero these days???!!! Had to settle for pasty today (along with the chicken club sandwich, which we split between us). Hard to do a cookie face test with a pastry, but Kevin did try.

The run east over Haskins is rarely fun and today was no exception. I’m sure there are people who actually like that climb, but for me, I just can’t get into a rhythm on it. In the other direction, it’s not so bad. In the reverse direction, I can’t even get a handle on how long it is, getting fooled into thinking this turn or that turn are further up the hill than they really are. That’s the worst. Much better when you misjudge in the other direction, with the top coming sooner than expected!

The Olive Hill Corgis (one of them anyway)
West Alpine? Yeah, well, I warned Kevin it wouldn’t be particularly fast today. He thought maybe we should go up 84 instead then, but I told him we should stick to his original plan and I’d do the best I could. At 47:48, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I can still develop some power on the steeper pitches, but can’t hold it for very long. Maybe as it gets warmer I’ll be breathing a bit better.

Overall a pretty nice ride, and yes, the Olive Hill Corgis were out, looking for attention. And who can pass up giving Corgis attention?