Getting Down To Business: Chemo And Stem Cells

Wednesday: We walked into Dr. W’s office expecting to get the details on Bob’s treatment, which we got. And then Bob got hooked up to start his chemo right then and there. Seems this time around, chemo is going to be a 3-day process instead of that cushy 1-day deal he had last time. Plus, he gets to bring home a an IV pack for a sleepover on that first night, along with a pump that he carries around in a fetching black man satchel. You know you’re jealous.

The chemo regimen is called R-DHAP. The “P” is for platinum. I’m pretty sure this means he’ll be able to shit me out an anniversary band. He says he’ll try.

The Nitty Gritty: Chemo will be a 3-day regimen administered every 3-4 weeks for 2-3 cycles. If the cancer is responsive to the chemo, the next step will be an autologous stem cell transplant done at Stanford’s Cancer Center. We’ll be meeting with them for a consult in the coming weeks.

The Numbers: Dr. W does not sugar-coat things, but he has a great sense of humor. It’s a bedside manner that fits us well. He told us that the chance of dying from the stem cell transplant is around 3%, but “what are you going to do, not do it?” Touché. Likewise, the Cure Rate for Bob after the transplant is in the range of 25-50%. But, the cure rate of doing nothing is 0%. Kind of a no brainer which option you’re going to choose. You don’t get to choose whether or not you get the cancer, just whether or not to treat it and the method.

Other than that pesky cancer crap, Bob is in great health: he’s young, he has strong lungs, and a strong heart. Choosing not to have radiation was a good call. It wouldn’t have stopped the return of his cancer, and it saved the wear and tear on his heart and lungs. Plus, he’s cute. That has to help.

First two days of this round are done. One more to go. Time to go snuggle with my man.

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You Aren't Lazy - You're Just Being Green

WESTLAND, MI - JULY 7: Emile Blair, 11, of Wes...

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The next time someone accuses you of sitting on your crack, popping that popular recreational drug, Zoloft, tell them you’re taking one for Al Gore.

Here’s a quick list of ways I like to keep things eco-friendly (it’s all about perspective, people):

  • Conserve water – Skip that shower/bath for yourself or your kids. Keep a stick of deodorant handy and a bottle of Febreeze by the front door. No one will be the wiser.
  • Conserve energy – Keep a/c costs down by keeping the kitchen cool by serving up cereal for dinner. Having guests? Order take out and re-plate upon delivery. It’s all in the presentation (and the wine, don’t skimp on the wine).
  • Reduce fossil fuel consumption – Let the kids walk to school. Draw them a map the night before and there’s no need for you to even get up, which means no need to turn up that heater in the morning. (Or homeschool, which requires no driving or walking to school at all.)
  • Save electricity – Put the kids to bed when the sun goes down. When nature turns out the lights, it’s lights out for little Johnny. More time for Mommy and Daddy to get their freak on.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – This works for laundry, too. Turn those underwear inside out, kids. You’ll get another day out of ‘em. Those socks aren’t dirty until they’re stiff, and those jeans are fine until they can stand up on their own. Hang that bath towel on a hook when you’re done with it. When it stinks like your butt, it’s time to wash you or wash it. Probably both.

If you want to learn more about dropping the bar a notch, check out the fabulous writers over at Aiming Low. They’ll take you there.

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Summer of '69: Charles Manson and Big Bird

Aldrin stands next to the Passive Seismic Expe...

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Growing up, I thought it was cool that I was born in the summer of ‘69. Shit, they wrote songs about it. They did not write songs about the summer of ‘78 or the winter of ‘43. Hell no.

They named a sexual position after the year I was born, and a fairly enjoyable one, at that. It’s not like I was born in the year of the missionary position or the year of the doggie style. That would have sucked butt. Almost literally.

And, as this year carries on, I am reminded of all the cool and historically noteworthy stuff that happened in 1969. I like to claim that much of it was done in honor of my arrival, like the landing on the moon by Apollo 11 on July 20th. I mean, they may have had that scheduled already, but I doubt it. I think they held out until they knew I was safely on the planet and propped up in front of the TV.

Another debut of awesomeness in the summer of ‘69 was that little concert they held in upstate New York. They were going to call it Joe’s Folk Fest, but I convinced them that simply naming it after the town, Woodstock, would make it easier for people to remember after they’d smoked the mondo doobage. Unfortunately, my parents wouldn’t let me attend. They claimed I was too young to be hanging out with all those hippies. So fucking judgmental. It’s not like my hair was long. I didn’t even have hair.

The next most awesome thing about 1969 was The Street with its big yellow bird, his imaginary friend, and an angry dude in a can. Sesame Street debuted in 1969. By the time I could speak, I could tell you how to get there and which one of these things was not like the other. Sesame Street was my early childhood Xanax. And a bowl of oatmeal plus Sesame Street bought my mom another hour of sleep, making her an instant fan.

The summer of '69 also had it’s share of freaky history being made. I didn’t find out about it until I was older and we were no longer living in Los Angeles, which is a good thing given my tendency toward law-defying insomnia. I came home from school sometime in late elementary/early middle school and caught a little after-school special called Helter Skelter. It’s chilling tale about a scrot bag by the name of Charles Manson. My ass was staple-gunned to that TV.

It didn’t take me long to do the math, and the geography, and realize we had been living and breathing in the midst of this nutjob's insanity during my infancy. When my mom got home, I had some FUCKING QUESTIONS. She had this nonchalant answer, “I didn’t really know any of that was going on.”

HOLY MOTHER OF CHRIST ON A FLOATILLA. She didn’t know it was going on? Didn’t know? Didn’t get the memo? Was living under a rock? Missed the evening news?

No. Not exactly. She was busy taking care of me. Her firstborn child. The kid who didn’t sleep. Ever. Night. Day. Ever. Not an unhappy baby. Just not sleeping. Also, sick. Me. With the mystery illness, at that point. And her, with no Twitter. No Facebook. No 24-Hour news channels. No cable TV. No VCR. Not even a remote control for the BLACK & WHITE TV.

My God how did she survive?

She survived by not knowing that CHARLES FUCKING MANSON WAS ON THE LOOSE. Because, quite frankly, do you realize how much Xanax would be required in L.A. if everyone had really been in the know? Judy Garland Trail Mix would have been flying off the shelves. Flying. And, I don’t think Judy wanted to share.

Summer of ‘69.

I was there.

Fillin’ up my diapers.

My mom was changing 'em.

But. I. Was. There.

Awesome year. Some cool shit went down. And some weird shit. Might explain a few things about me. One or two.

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PSA: 5th International Scientific Symposium on Tourette Syndrome a Huge Success

image Front of the Class Poster

The national Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. brought together 250 delegates and internationally renowned scientists, clinicians and other experts from 17 countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Spain, to share and discuss the latest research into and treatments for Tourette Syndrome. The Symposium was held in New York City on June 12 and 13, and focused on the advances made since the last Symposium which was held in 2004. Notable hot topics were deep brain stimulation (DBS); the development of animal models for the study of TS; and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in reducing tics. However, fields as wide and diverse as genetics, neuroimaging, neuropathology, epidemiology and neuroimmunology were all covered during the course of the conference. Presenters conveyed their research findings through platform presentations, small group meetings/workshops and poster displays.
The Symposium was co-chaired by the TSA Scientific Advisory Board co-chairs, Peter J. Hollenbeck, Ph.D., Purdue University; Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center; and John T. Walkup, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The program was developed by a Steering Committee chaired by Kevin Black, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine.
Dr. Black commented on the success of the event and the high level of the material presented. "The quality of the presentations was superb. We heard breaking news on several fronts: a report from the CDC on the first nationwide survey of people diagnosed with TS, an update on the search for genes that cause TS, an fMRI study of how the TS brain's organization develops in adolescence, discussion of animals that have tic-like movements and may help us find new treatments, and compelling results on PANDAS with a very lively discussion of their implications. Much of the meeting was organized to shed light on the results of the recent NIH-funded multi-site controlled study of CBIT (Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions for Tics), presented for the first time at this Symposium. The study results were very compelling and I believe will help bring an important new treatment to the standard care of people with TS. It is not a cure, but it looks to be an important tool for helping manage and reduce symptoms."
The TSA's Early Career Research Award was presented to the TSA grant recipient Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D for her work on synaptic and circuit level insights for TS and OCD using mouse models. Dr. Calakos was also among the 57 scientists who presented posters. Among these, six were scholarship awardees. The scholarships are part of TSA's commitment to encouraging young researchers to focus on pursuits related to TS.
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and they stressed how the symposium provided a unique opportunity to hear not only the latest information about TS advances in medicine and treatment, but also to meet other medical and scientific professionals from around the world to share information, ideas and experiences. Attendees are now anxiously awaiting the next TSA symposium and expressed a desire for it to be held sooner than the next meeting which is scheduled to take pace 5 years later in 2014.
On Sunday, June 14, the final day of the Symposium was a 'Family Day' when local TS families were invited to hear Dr. James Leckman of the Yale Child Study Center talk about the medical and scientific advances presented at the Symposium. Douglas Woods, Ph.D., also  spoke about CBIT and the results of the NIH-funded study.
For more information and photos from the symposium, check out the upcoming issue of Inside TSA which should arrive in your mailbox in mid-September. Don't receive the TSA quarterly newsletter? Click here to become a member and start receiving issues along with exclusive access to past issues on our website!

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Replacing Faith

First, I’m tired of calling my husband, Hubs. His name is Bob. He’s nearly died in the past few months, and I’m going to call him Bob. If some twat of a lawyer wants to threaten me because I call him by his name, so be it. My family has been through hell, and we’ve come out on the sunnier side of the tunnel. So, kiss my ass.

When Bob was diagnosed with lymphoma, and I thought he might die, and he thought he might die, I had to place my faith in the doctors and medicine to heal him.

Other people prayed. He prayed. Family prayed. Friends prayed. Strangers prayed. Maybe that helped in some way, but the thing that I saw heal my husband was the medicine. I saw the IVs of drugs drip into his veins, and I saw him get better. I saw the filled bottles of pills become empty, and I saw him get better.

I would love to be able to say that going through this process has strengthened my faith in God, but it hasn’t. It has solidified my faith in science.

Ten years ago, when my sister-in-law had lymphoma, some of these medications did not exist, and her journey was more difficult. Science changed that.

Sure, we can debate whether God made it possible for the scientists to develop the medications that healed my husband. That’s not really my point. I’m not trying to get that philosophical.

When this all started, I shared that I couldn’t pray. I still can’t. I thought that if Bob was healed, maybe I’d feel that joy of having a faith in God return, and I’d be able to pray again, maybe even for other people or other reasons. But, no. For now at least, it’s gone. I haven’t even decided if I miss it yet. It’s just not there.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I may need to change my stance. I just spent 4 1/2 hours moving furniture, mostly unaided by anyone with a penis as the one able-bodied penis owner present can't risk any injuries at the moment. (Fuck Cancer In The Eye.) Just as my back was mid-spasm from movie a 300-pound tv atop a 40-foot high perch, I hunched over a bag of unidentified crap when Lo, there was before me a bag of forgotten Easter candy. At first frantic rummage, it appeared to be all shit-candy, just Sweet Tarts and that crap Hershey's tries to pass off as dark chocolate. Then, I found it. The Holy Egg, still sealed shut in all its mismatched plastic glory. As I cracked it open in my shaking palm, a bounty of Jelly Belly beans spilled forth. As I shoved them into my pie hole, I looked to the Heavens and gave thanks.

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Let's Get Back to Vaginas: Your Front-Butt Is Your Friend

Whether you call it a vajeen, va-jay-jay, or lady pita, it’s important to know some things about the vagina. Thankfully, the awesome folks at Midwest Teen Sex Show have an episode that will get you started with the basics. Dive on in.

So. Many. Awesomely quotable moments. Thanks, @NikolHasler. I sure wish y’all had been around when my generation was sitting in Sex Ed with the Health Teacher/Football Coach.

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I Got My Xmas Wish, Too

no original descriptionImage via WikipediaI got what I wanted for Christmas yesterday--a hysterectomy. But, this wasn't just any hysterectomy. I had a da Vinci Robotic laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH), because I'm all about the cool gadgets and technology.

The upside to this method is that it's a robotic-assisted laparoscopic procedure. It also meant that I got to keep my cervix and ovaries, have just 5 small incisions in my abdomen, and come home today after just one night in the hospital. It probably helped that I had a great surgeon and hospital staff, too.

The surgery was supposed to start at 10am, but was delayed until 1pm. It ended up taking just over 3 hours to complete, with a portion of that time spent waiting for my bladder and kidneys to start functioning again. Then, I was off to recovery for an hour or so, before heading up to my room.

The hospital had these cool new beds that auto-level with your every move. I also had mechanical leg warmers (not their technical name) that massaged by legs to help with circulation.

Pretty cool, huh? Now, I'm still very sore, thankful for Percocet, and leaving Hubs in charge this Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus is out of commission for the next 2 weeks.

Time for a nap. Happy Holidays to you all!

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Tartar in My Wine: The Things You Learn When Making Playdough

Structure of potassium bitartrate

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Peanut decided to make play-dough today. She found a recipe online, then set about gathering the ingredients. When she got to the cream of tartar, she came to me for help. "What's cream of tartar, Mom?"
"Um, I don't know, but you need it to make play-dough," I said.
After checking the cupboards and coming up empty-handed, she was back. We needed a substitution. Upon Googling "cream of tartar", we learned some things, including possible substitutions.

Cream of tartar is a by-product of the wine industry. A crystalline acid forms on the inside of wine barrels. The barrels are scraped and the sediment is purified and ground to form cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is used to stabilize egg whites when making meringue or as an addition to certain frostings to produce a creamy product.


1 oz., 3 tbsp.

Ingredient Substitutions

juice (3 x quantity) or vinegar (3 x quantity)
source: Gourmet Sleuth

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