Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Hurricane came through, f**ked us up 'round here."

(Warning: Language NSFW)

Two years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. And the thing is that unless you count the tourist areas that didn't get badly damaged in the first place, not a damn thing has changed. There are areas in NOLA that are ghost towns. There are areas that are one big vacant lot.

If there was one thing good about Hurricane Katrina, it was this: the hurricane in 2005 directly led to the GOP defeat in 2006. Hopefully the reportage about the current situation in NOLA will keep people thinking about it and lead to a veto-proof Democratic majority in 2008 and a Democrat in the White House. Certainly one Republican candidate, John McCain, has reaped much bad publicity from the 8/29/2005 photo op where he and Dubya yukked it up at an Air Force base and ate cake.

We cannot forget NOLA. We cannot abandon NOLA. If the birthplace of America's greatest contribution to world music is left to become a gentrified, Disneyfied shadow of its former self, the soul of America will really and truly be lost.

Here are a couple of very cogent essays about the aftermath, two years on:

AP Editorial: Pay heed to New Orleans' plight
Shelley Midura's open letter to George W. Bush

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Richie update

OK, here's an update on Richie.

Apheresis (stem cell collection) started last week, with one collection on Friday and one collection yesterday. Friday's collection got 1.2 million cells...not great, but not bad. The doctor suggested an afternoon collection the next time, giving the Neupogen time to work some more before collection because Richie would give himself the shot every day after breakfast. That was damn good advice, because the collection yesterday got 18 million (yes, I'm putting my pinky to my mouth when I type this) stem cells. All that in one swell foop. Amazing. Lots of celebrating. The target was 9 million, with 6 as a bare minimum. Now we have enough for the second in the Tandem transplant if that's going to be part of the protocol.

Richie has been scheduled to go into CoH Helford Research Hospital on 9/7/2007, with a consultation the day before. I'm going to have to take a day off from school to attend the consultation.

The tales of hard-fought success with SCTs I have been reading on the Myeloma mailing list have been comforting to me, although sometimes scary considering the kind of side effects people have had to battle. I am still of two minds about this, considering how well Richie's disease has been managed under the Velcade/Doxil/Dex protocol, and all the horrible experiences some of you have had. While I haven't heard of people dying of the procedure (I'm sure there are a few in the literature) it sounds like some of you wished you were dead through the process.

On Richie's side are two things: his relative youth and his baseline health outside of the MM. He's 54 years old, and likely will still be in Helford for his 55th birthday on the 21st. It's sort of like saying "Other than that nasty business, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" but he is in excellent health otherwise. Cardio's great, Pulmonary's great, no other diseases, and right now he's getting back into walking and has been working with a physical therapist. He's been in a pain-free period where he hasn't had to use opiates.

I'm worried. I'm not looking forward to the separation. He's looking forward to it, in spite of all the potential for danger, misery and possibly even death. And once Richie Hass has decided he's going to do something, he won't be dissuaded. He's a stubborn cuss.

I don't want to lose him. However, on the Buddhist tip, one must remember that all things are impermanent. The anxiety is killing me. But I need to let him do this, and prepare myself to let go of him if something goes wrong. "I want a chance to get healthy" is his refrain. He's willing to take this very big calculated risk. I suppose I need to be supportive and just let him do it. But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.