Yesterday: The VA and Vidaza

Yesterday Beth and I spent much of the day down at the VA office in Oakland, before heading out to Dr. Jalil’s for a consultation and to begin her sixth cycle of Vidaza. We honestly didn’t know what to expect – it was her first “doctor’s visit” there. Her primary care physician is a young female doctor who has a great deal of respect for veterans, and she did a pretty thorough “history” on Beth. I appreciated her concern.

We also filed a claim for disability benefits through the VA. We heard from another individual who was standing in line that it can take up to a year simply to process the application. The actual VA benefits counselor we spoke with told us it would be six or seven months – within two months, we should receive acknowledgement that they have received it.

Beth also began her 6th Vidaza cycle. Dr. Jalil was generally encouraged by how she was doing. Note that her white blood cells were at their lowest point that I’ve seen them (1.1) – but also that her hemoglobin, which was raised into the nine-point-something range with four transfusions, actually increased a bit last week (to 9.5). That was a very rare “increase” in her hemoglobin level.

  11/1 11/3 11/10 11/14
White Cells (4.4)  1.48 1.51 1.31 1.1
Hemoglobin (12.5)  9.2 9.1 9.5 9.1
Platelets (145)  59 86 116 88

(Numbers in parentheses represent the minimum “normal” figure. For previous blood counts, see this chart.)

Finally, I’ve put up a new theological blog post, which I’ve entitled “The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic”.  When Catholics and Protestants approach a given topic in Scripture or in history, they approach it in different ways. And it’s this difference, often unspoken, that often renders the subsequent discussions so difficult, if not maddening. You’ll hear things like “You have your interpretation, I have mine”. But what are these “interpretations” based upon? I briefly cite a Protestant scholar and a number of Roman Catholic scholars, and some popes, on how Roman Catholics use the Scriptures. It’s eye opening.

Veterans Administration Burn Pits Study is Inconclusive

Beth again featured in article on VA study on Burn PitsA study on the long-term effects of burn pits on the health of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has come back “inconclusive”. This is a study that we had hoped would have provided the VA with guidelines enabling Beth to receive disability compensation through the VA. She hasn’t been able to work for five months, and with the upcoming bone marrow transplant procedure, she’ll most likely continue to be out of work for many more months.

Beth qualifies for health care benefits through the VA, but having this illness rated as a “service-related” illness would have ramifications in case Beth does not survive this procedure (according to her doctor, she has “less than a 50 percent chance of recovery” because of immediate and longer-term effects, though this is “the only curative option” for the type of leukemia that she has), in the form of disability benefits now, and survivor benefits for the kids and me.

We have a scheduled intake appointment in a few weeks with the VA. Beth is already receiving very good care for this illness through my employer’s health care benefits. We are very near to the point at which we can select a donor for a potential bone marrow transplant procedure, which “the only curative option” for her.

Last week, she spent most of the week in the hospital, receiving IV antibiotics treatments for infections related to her impaired immunities. All of her blood levels – hemoglobin, white blood cells, and platelets, are at low and critically low levels from Vidaza treatments she is receiving. So far, three individuals have qualified as stem cell donors. We’re hoping to select a donor this week and establish a schedule for a transplant.

We’ve continued to try to raise money. We’ve set up a Facebook-based fundraising tool, which you can easily send, share on your own page, like, or tweet, and we hope you would help us with this in any way you can.

We’re also receiving a great deal of help and care from our church, and other sources.