It has been a long and eventful week...to say the least. To give a little background, Pa, my mom's dad, has recently been seeing several specialists for abnormal proteins found in his blood/urine, along with recent diagnosis of kidney disease. He was referred to UAMS (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) for further care at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy. He and my grandmother drove down from Missouri to start three days of testing before they would meet with the oncologist on the final day.
They were scheduled to start the first test on Monday morning, continue through Wednesday, and meet with the oncologist on Thursday. It just so happened that the snow/ice that hit Arkansas on Sunday kept them from making it all the way to Little Rock. So, after going off into the median and a ditch, they pulled over and ended up staying two nights in Russellville. When they finally made it to hotel in Little Rock on Tuesday, Pa took the hotel shuttle to the hospital. Unfortunately, on his way into the building, he fell and hit his head. He had a large bump and some bloody scratches, but they were able to give him his paperwork and told him he could start his testing on Wendesday morning. Luckily, I work at a connecting hospital to UAMS and was able to come get Pa and take him back to the hotel.
My mom was able to come up and stay with them on Wednesday to help them get to their appointments. The schedules each day involved tests starting as early as 7:30am and ending one night at 10:30pm. Very exhausting for two elderly people (85 & 86 years old) to be doing on their own. I came over to the Myeloma Institute on Wednesday after work and waited with them until 7:00 pm to see the doctor. Pa's uric acid levels were high, so they gave him a liter of fluid to normalize those levels and to rehydrate him. After that was finished, the doctor didn't feel comfortable letting him go home without a CT scan of his head, to make sure there was no internal bleeding from his fall. Since the clinic had already closed, the doctor had him admitted to the hospital overnight so that they could keep an eye on him and have the CT scan done. We left around 10:00 that night.
Thursday got off to a late start and Pa missed his morning tests because he was still in the hospital and there was some confusion as to whether or not he was supposed to be taken to those tests. He had a few MRI's, CT scans, ultrasounds, lots of blood work and urinalyses done, and was discharged Thursday night. They still had to wait around for another test at 9:00pm, and didn't leave the hospital until 11:00pm.
Friday was a better day, although my mom and grandparents were worn thin from all of the stress and appointments over the last few days. They were scheduled to meet with the oncologist at 1:30pm. I came over after work around 4:00pm because they were still waiting for their appointment. It was 6:30 before we finally met with the doctor. He informed us that Pa did not have full blown myeloma yet, but that he had "monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance," or as they call it, "MGUS".
Here is the Mayo Clinic's definition (I couldn't access UAMS' website)
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is a common precancerous condition affecting people 50 years of age and older. It was first described by Mayo Clinic researchers in 1978 and is characterized by the presence of an abnormal protein in the blood called a (monoclonal) protein or M protein. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance has a small risk (1 percent each year) of progressing to a blood cancer called multiple myeloma or a related condition.
We left the clinic around 7:00pm to have dinner at Cafe Prego, compliments of the doctor for having to wait so long on a Friday afternoon/night. I was very impressed. It was nice for everyone to have a good meal after eating on-the-go for a week.
Overall, we received much better news than expected, and are glad that Pa has something manageable for the time being. He went home on Saturday, and will come back every three months for follow-up. I know he and grandmother, along with my mother and I, are glad to be able to get some rest and relief after a long and stressful week.
A humorous picture from one night when we left so late, we couldn't get back through the building to the garage our car was parked in. So, we had the policeman take us. Here is mom and grandmother in the back of the cop car:
God is good. All the time. And all the time, God is good.