Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pee in a Bottle

Tomorrow I take the test! Blood test, that is, and I'll contribute my other little donation to the lab. Glad I'm not the one who has to deal with thisUsually I get these tests:
  • Complete blood counts (CBC), which includes counts of red cells, white cells, platelets, hemoglobin, and the like. Lots more, most of which the doctor doesn't even look at unless they go out of range.
  • Chemistry, which includes calcium, sodium, potassium, and other mineral counts plus several other very important indicators such as creatinine (kidneys) and albumin (liver).
  • Serum Protein Electrophoresis (SPEP) which shows how much of the protein in the blood is in the form of "monoclonal" proteins that are cast off by the malignant plasma cells of myeloma. This is a crude but important indicator of the actual tumor burden. Myeloma patients call this the "spike," because it actually does show up as a peak on a graph. Bad Spike!
  • Light Chains, a particular component of the monoclonal proteins which can clog up internal organs and make things a lot worse, in fact they can make you dead. The doctor tests for light chains in the blood and also in the urine.
  • Other stuff. Sometimes they do x-rays, bone density measurements, bone marrow biopsies, and other tests. None scheduled this time, but maybe if the blood tests indicate an issue.
The big jug shown above is for a 24-hour urine collection. Little more than a nuisance for a man, it's a bit more troublesome for a woman (so I hear). That urine is tested for light chains, and perhaps for other naughty proteins. The jug holds a gallon, and I never fill it, but I'm told that some people need two or even more.

I'll see the doctor in another week to review the test results. If the numbers are stable or down, then the curcumin regimen is doing some good and we will no doubt stay the course. If they are up, then I know that the doctor will recommend Revlimid, a fairly new treatment which I am reluctant to start for several reasons. I will most certainly post.


  1. Bad Spike is right! And what you said is sooo true: women do have a heck of a time with those darned jugs. That's why I have my Bence Jones only tested twice a year, not every two months with my blood tests. Anyway, GOOD LUCK, Don, and keep us posted. And please, no negative thoughts like "if the numbers are up...if the blood tests indicate an issue," etc. Ya hear me? :-) Also, as they are drawing your blood, think of something hilarious. :-) Margaret, Florence, Italy

  2. I hear you kiddo.

    Problem is I'm an engineer, so science and reality are my daily companions. Nevertheless I've (occasionally) been imaging that yellow tide of curcumin washing the myeloma cells right out of my body.

    I'll definitely work on that hilarious blood draw. :-) Thanks Margaret,


  3. Incidentally, the jug volume this time was 3.0 liters, the most I've ever filled it in 24 hours. Must be the watermelon. :-)

    I wonder how the blood tests might be affected by the amount of fluid a person drinks in the previous 24 hours. Hmmm.

  4. I've wondered about that, too. Hmmm. Here in Italy, and perhaps in the U.S., too (I don't know), you don't have to take the WHOLE jug with you to the lab, but just a sample (after shaking the jug). But you do have to write down how much pee you produced in the 24 hours. Sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more. That is a good question for the hematologist. Take care, Margaret

  5. Hi Don, Hope all is going well for you - my dear Hamada is fighting on and hopes for a stem cell transplant in October. He is just finishing another course of Chemo to bring down the count further, before proceeding - Bence Jones reading now at 2.36. We send our best wishes to you. Keep up the good work and plenty of water daily.
    Love Susie

  6. Good luck, Don! Here in Italy we wait for your very good results ;-)