Thursday morning Kirsten and I returned to Boston to visit Dr. Kulke at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. We weren’t expecting much. We were going down to discuss the first round of chemotherapy, have labs drawn, and hopefully get some analysis of the brain MRI.
It was an early appointment: 08:15. The Downeaster train arrived at North Station at 07:55, too late to take the subway and make the appointment. So, we hopped in a taxi cab and went express. Kirsten had never been in a taxi, so it was nice to get that off the bucket list. We paid using the credit card reader in the backseat, which was kinda cool.
While Kirsten had her blood drawn and vitals taken, I waited and took pictures. When we finally got to the examination room, we talked to Dr. Kulke’s nurse for a very long time, about strategies for getting good sleep, staying mentally strong, and avoiding nausea. She recommended yoga and acupuncture. When she said, “Studies suggest…,” I’m sure she noticed the disapproving eye-roll.
When she left, we waited in the exam room for at least an hour for Dr. Kulke. At one point his nurse came in to tell us that he’d been looking with a radiologist at the MRI we had brought. However, when he talked to us, he said he hadn’t seen it and needed to compare it to the MRI from 2010. It’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t learn anything in that regard.
What we did learn is that the chemotherapy is toxic. Isn’t that the point? Unfortunately, Kirsten’s dose was too toxic. We have no idea how effective it might have been on the tumors, but it reduced her platelet count to thirteen thousand platelets per microlitre of blood. The normal level is 150-400 thousand. The situation she’s in now, as a result, is quite serious. Dr. Kulke will continue to monitor her platelet count with regular blood draws, but she will not be able to begin her second round of chemotherapy until her counts are up. She has been advised not to use knives or have sex, as any bleeding would be serious.
Because we waited to long to see Dr. Kulke, we did not have time to take the subway back to North Station, as we had planned. Instead, we took our second cab ride of the day, at significantly greater cost.