What is this?

In late November 2020, I got quite sick. Ended up in the ICU. My problem was identified as "Portal Vein Thrombosis." In other words, the vein that comes from the intestines to the liver was blocked. (I never knew we humans had a vein there!). I was prescribed blood thinner that has helped a great deal.

The question is, "What caused this?" That question remained unanswered until February 5 when the oncologist called to say it was caused by "Multiple Myeloma" - a blood-cell, cancer (although it is really a blood plasma or bone cancer). About 1% of all cancers are MM (I found there may well be more than one percent). Because it is rare and difficult to treat, few doctors are equipped to diagnose and treat this disease. My MM diagnosis was confirmed with a bone marrow test on February 11. This test revealed the cancer. While there is currently no known cures, there are people who have lived with MM for decades.

We found a doctor in Birmingham who deals only with MM (it seems to be a necessity to find someone like him). We got an appointment and visited with him. He told us, "I believe there are cures..." He works well with his former student, our oncologist. Therefore, we are using his prescription for treatment locally.

MM has many manifestations: According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms, signs can vary greatly such as:

  • Bone pain, especially in your spine or chest

  • Nausea

  • Constipation

  • Loss of appetite

  • Mental fogginess or confusion

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent infections

  • Weight loss

  • Weakness or numbness in your legs

  • Excessive thirst

Risk factors Factors that may increase your risk of multiple myeloma include:

  • Increasing age. Your risk of multiple myeloma increases as you age, with most people diagnosed in their mid-60s.

  • Male sex. Men are more likely to develop the disease than are women.

  • Black race. Black people are more likely to develop multiple myeloma than are people of other races.

  • Family history of multiple myeloma. If a brother, sister or parent has multiple myeloma, you have an increased risk of the disease.

  • Personal history of a monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Multiple myeloma almost always starts out as MGUS, so having this condition increases your risk.

Complications of multiple myeloma include:

  • Frequent infections. Myeloma cells inhibit your body's ability to fight infections.

  • Bone problems. Multiple myeloma can also affect your bones, leading to bone pain, thinning bones and broken bones.

  • Reduced kidney function. Multiple myeloma may cause problems with kidney function, including kidney failure.

  • Low red blood cell count (anemia). As myeloma cells crowd out normal blood cells, multiple myeloma can also cause anemia and other blood problems.

This disease has very individualistic manifestations making it hard to treat (thus the need for a specialist).

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