Super Kidney

Once again, after a heavy dose of methotrexate, my super kidney has done its job and metabolized one ginourmous bag of yellow chemo. I was discharged at around 1:30pm, and now me and my tired kidney are at home resting.

The B cycle crash will probably come earlier this week as my counts already began to drop even before I left the hospital, so I suspect that by Wednesday or Thursday I’ll be mushed into the pillows of our comfy red couch.

Special thanks to all of those who came to visit me in the hospital this week–my mom and sister, Rick, Vandana, Paul, Bette, Jaime, Renee, Bill, Ivy, Maya. Special thanks to our friend Matt who drove down from NYC for a visit and brought with him the good news that he starts his first job as a nurse at Mt. Sinai on Monday, and the yummyness of Zabar’s in the form of fresh bagels, sturgeon, fresh cream cheese, and, most importantly, a pound of whitefish brought especially for my doctor who ate breakfast (and sometimes lunch) with me to chat about lymphoma, chemo, good Jewish food, and Jacqui’s giant belly.

Given that Jacq will be busy taking care of me and Lester this week, and I will be short on hemoglobin and brain power, I am welcoming contributions for guest blogs. So if you feel like blogging, send ’em over to See you online!

So Far, So Good

The dreaded B cycle, which should knock my socks off some time late next week with very low blood counts, has been pretty easy going down so far. Right now I am getting an IV dose of a drug called leucovorin, a “recovery drug”, which helps my body metabolize the 24-hour-straight chemo that I finished last night. I cannot leave the hospital until that chemo is well metabolized, which was not a problem last round, so I should be good to go home by about 3pm tomorrow just after my final dose.

I got a new roommate last night, who was here only briefly, was very nice, and had working ears. Last night was thus quiet night. Hopefully tonight is the same.

My nurse just told me a crazy story which proves that truth is much, much stranger than fiction. On Halloween night last week, one of the patients here on the lymphoma floor had their young son come to visit in full costume. Take a second to consider what the most offensive costume someone could choose to dress up as on an oncology floor? A zombie doctor? No. Dr. Jack Kevorkian? No. How about a four foot tall grim reaper going door to door on Rhoads 7 trick or treating? Yes! And how about the transplant patient who had to be medicated after opening her door and finding a miniature grim reaper, scythe and all, yelling trick or treat.

No grim reapers tonight. Hopefully one doesn’t show up as my roommate for the evening.


Checked into Rhoads 7 at HUP last night at around 6:30pm, only to discover that the private room they had promised me was now a shared room. This unfortunately means that Jacq can’t stay with me, although the nursing and admissions office are doing their best to try to switch me given Jacq’s size and status. There is, however, a high census of patients who need to be in isolation so it might not happen this round. I miss Jacq terribly at night, but given her size, I am glad that she is at home in comfort cuddling with Otis.

My roommate on the other side of the curtain is a ninety-five year old hip-fracture patient who I learned served in World War II and was shot in the butt. I’ve also learned that he is nearly deaf, so when any family member, nurse, or doctor enters the room, I generally stick my fingers in my ears or go for a walk. Thank God he is not a snorer. His ninety-something-year-old wife and two daughters were here with him last night, and there was nothing sweeter than watching them say good night to one another, telling each other in their very, very, very old person’s voices (a slightly raised voice combined with what must be almost seventy years of love) to kiss the other’s hand given one was immobilized in bed, and the other in a wheelchair. I look forward to the day when I am a crusty and cranky old man who, hopefully not with a cracked hip, does the same to my lovely wife. By then maybe hearing loss will be reversible and I won’t have to yell or be yelled at to communicate with Jacq and others.

The chemo so far has been uneventful, and I expect to be out of here late afternoon Sunday. Monday will be my crash day, although I do hope to make an appearance at school for a few minutes to meet our new students who are taking a class I was supposed to teach.

Below is today’s chemo hat in honor of Humphrey Bogart, who was not born on this day, but on December 25, 1899.

Holding Pattern

After being told that I had a bed and would begin treatment last night, a series of hospital emergencies combined with patients who did not check out kept my bed occupied and we instead went out for Italian. Delicious bruschetta, a ceasar salad, and breaded flounder. For the Philadelphians out there, a big thumbs up to D’Angelo’s on 20th and Manning.

So, we are waiting for the call that there is a free bed. It could come today, or maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, life goes on. Time for lunch and then a few hours in the office. Later.

Lester and Bud

Today we had an ultrasound of little, or should I say, “big Lester.” According to the sometimes inaccurate ultrasound measurement, Lester weighs almost 6 pounds. Wow. S/he’s going to be a big kid.

Jacq, who had only a snack for breakfast, got nauseas during the procedure and had to be rolled (literally at this point) on to her side so the tech could continue. So she unfortunately didn’t get to see the incredible images of Lester’s head, belly, bladder, arms, legs, teddy bear, and blankie.

What we both did get to see took our breath away. No, it wasn’t Lester’s “giant umbilical cord.” Nor was the little dude(tte) wearing a Yankee’s shirt. It turns out that Lester almost had a buddy in Jacqui’s belly. There it was. A second, small gestational sac with a tiny bud-like structure attached to Jacqui’s placenta. The doctor, who called this a vanishing twin, reassured us that though rare, this happens, and there was absolutely no risk to Lester. But we now know that probably for a few moments very early on we had twins.

Holy cow, we almost had twins! That would have been nuts. Not that we would have placed the second child in a reed basket and sent him or her downstream, but given all that we’ve been through one at a time is probably the best reproductive strategy for the Yudell-Rick household.

We both felt sad today for little Bud, knowing that it was almost our second child. But seeing big Lester’s heart beating, and hearing the doctor say the words, “you’re baby is healthy,” made today extraordinary, and we look forward to meeting the big baby soon.