On Tuesday Mary and I traveled to Atlanta. The purpose of this trip was to meet with a new doctor and be approved for a clinical trial that offers a drug that should help quell the beast. With the continued increase in my PSA, it was critical that we find a new treatment. The drug, Abiraterone, is on the verge of FDA approval.
Tuesday was unbelievably stressful and tiring. We had to get up at 4:45am in order to get ready and catch a 7am flight. The trip to Atlanta was non-eventful but when we landed it was raining. The rain continued all day and the gloominess hung over me like the large gray clouds that blocked the view of the Atlanta skyline. After getting a rental car and driving to the Buckhead area, we only had time for a quick lunch before heading over to the doctor's office.
Somehow our luck continues when it comes to finding pleasant, professional and accommodating medical support. Dr. A's staff was fantastic. We spent 30 minutes or so with the doctor followed by a trip to the hospital for tests. Dr. A has been involved with this specific drug throughout all stages of the clinical trial. He has seen excellent results from the majority of the men on the trial and very few complications. The primary side effects noted are low potassium and leg cramps. In order to monitor my health through this trial, I will be returning for blood tests and visits with the doctor every two weeks for the first 3 months and then once a month after that.
The remainder of Tuesday afternoon was spent at the hospital where I had both and an EKG and an echocardiogram. I wasn't familiar with the latter, but learned it is basically a sonogram of your heart. I was able to view the monitor and I must say it was pretty exciting to watch my heart valves open and close! At one point I could see all four chambers at once, quite amazing.
By the time we checked into the hotel and got to our room it was nearly 5pm. We took a few minutes to drop our things and headed off to dinner. Wouldn't you know it, we found one of our favorites, Houston's right down the road. We had a nice meal but the craziness of all the travel and the stress of waiting another 36 hours had caught up to me, I was exhausted.
We spent Wednesday working from the hotel, working out and swimming and then had dinner at a restaurant I had discovered a few years ago when I had to travel to Orlando on business, Seasons 52. They have a great grilled scallop dish that we both enjoyed and we were back in our room by 8:00pm.
Neither of us slept particularly well on Tuesday and Wednesday it was worse. Tossing and turning continued and we threw in the towel and got up a little after 6am. We arrived at the doctor at 9:30 and they were once again the epitome of efficiency. By 10am I had the trial drug in hand and was taking my first dose. A quick stop at their pharmacy for the Prednisone and we were on our way back to the airport.
I really despise airlines when they charge you to change flight. It cost $50 each for us to walk up to a kiosk, scan our boarding passes and use the on screen menu to change from the 4:10 to the 12:50 flight. $100 and not a single second of human intervention! Complaints aside, it was well worth it to get home three hours earlier on my birthday.
Perhaps I failed to mention that previously...yesterday I turned 48. As I look at those words on the screen in front of me I am taken back for a number of reasons. First, my how life flies by, 48! I also look at the header of this blog and think about all that has happened in the last 6 years. The highs, the lows, the ups, and the downs. The new friends I've made and cherish, the friends I made and lost, and those this disease has allowed me to reconnect with after so long. What a life I have led in such a short time.
Ahead lies more than a 49th, 50th and more. Birthdays are the milestones but everything that happens the other 364 days are a blessing. Take some time to slow down and enjoy them because once they are gone, you can't get them back.
At the end of the day I pray that this new drug is successful in taming my disease for months and perhaps years to come. I would like nothing more than to look forward to 12 years from now and be able to post, "Yesterday was my 60th birthday and Mary and I stayed at home, had a nice quiet dinner and shared a cupcake with one candle on it!"