Friday, August 8, 2008

Help! My Telomeres Are Unraveling

August 8, 2008 (otherwise known as 08/08/08. . .doesn't it feel smooth to type that?)

I can just feel my telomeres unraveling. What, you may ask, is a telomere, and why don't I just put a knot mine or stitch them up?

Each person has telomere caps at the end of their chromosomes. This region acts as a buffer during cell division so that cells don't lose important chromosomes (and that oh-so-crucial information each contains). As long as you have intact telomeres, you have less chance of producing genetic anomalies. Unfortunately, your telomeres get shorter each time their cell divides. So as you age, the buffer function deteriorates and eventually tissue can't repair itself properly. This leads to a variety of maladies that we associate with old age.

Now you may ask yourself if Vickie is just complaining because she's getting old. No, definitely not. Telomeres shorten due to aging, but also because of stress. And this week has taken me to new peaks of stress.

The week began peacefully enough. Monday brought the beginning of the end to our New Mexican vacation, but I still had the luxury of sitting with my feet up on the balcony of our hotel, viewing the mountains and shivering just a little, while sipping my coffee and nibbling a warm chocolate chip cookie to start the day. By midday we had hit the road, and by Tuesday afternoon we had arrived back at Chez Buenger, facing piles of mail and newspapers, a plethora of phone messages, and an e-mail queue longer than the line for the bathroom at an Aggie game. We had a week to get Davis packed for 18 weeks in Hungary (did you know that Hungarians spend forints, not euros?) and clinic in Houston for Erin, plus more placement testing for the school year and soccer revving back up with practices every evening. My "to do" list also contained a variety of extended family obligations about which I can't share details, but it involved opening bank accounts, transferring vehicle titles, and making applications to various state agencies.

Yet even in the midst of knocking off items from the list (while wondering if applying clear fingernail polish to my chromosome caps would keep them from unraveling further), I was struck with the idea of how pleasant it was to feel stressed over something other than Erin's cancer. Of course, I'm sure I'll add that to the mix in the coming week or two, since Scan Fiesta is on our docket for August 28.

Clinic went fine yesterday, quite similar to previous labs three weeks ago. We'll start round five of The Rhino on Monday morning (pre-dawn).

HGB 11.5 (normal)
WBC 2800 (low)

ANC 1430 (almost low normal)
PLT 316,000 (normal)

BUN 24 (5-25)
Creatinine .7 (.2-1.2)

Apparently, in our trip across the Texas and New Mexico desert on Monday and Tuesday, we missed the memo that the clinic closed down on Tuesday as a precaution against Eduardo. That meant that all the patients with Tuesday appointments showed up at clinic yesterday (and all apparently arrived moments before we did). We managed to pass the time successfully and with reasonable cheer primarily because Erin's great friend Ayesha joined us for the trip (in fact, she has joined us for an extended stay and playfest all week until Sunday). Our visit also coincided with a visit from Houston Dynamo defender Craig Weibel, so Erin and Ayesha got to join Weibel's Warriors and score a couple of cool orange Ts with Weibels signature across the front.

Erin fans, we also got to meet a newly diagnosed NB patient, Jessica Goff. She is pretty bummed about having to sit out this fall's soccer season, although she and her family have a great attitude and I'm sure will make it through this tough part of treatment with few problems. They have decorated her hospital room in a China-theme to celebrate the Olympics. It sounds like the Goffs, similar to the Buengers, travel heavy. Stop by her website: and leave them all a message of encouragement.

I don't know when the fun will stop. My niece Annabelle went home yesterday, but my other niece, Emma, and my sister, Katherine arrive this afternoon for a long weekend of mischief and fun. Since I'm not ready to stop having fun I will leave you with vacation pics.

Here's a view from the hiking trail at Cloudcroft:

And our destination at the trail's end. This is the Mexican Canyon Trestle, an amazing railroad bridge built about a hundred years ago. Until the 1940's it was the only way, other than pack mule, to get to Cloudcroft. Note how tough it must have been to get supplies to this site 9,000 feet above sea level:

Here we are along the trail:

We also played miniature golf with Aunt Norma and Uncle Dave. Norma was the big winner (because she can actually putt accurately and calculate the pitch and rise for the holes).

Erin's no pro, but she does bring a certain sense of focus to her game:

1 comment:

  1. Awesome pics. Hope you can de-stress soon. Sam's scan is on the 28th (injection) and 29th scan. Here's to "all clears" on the 29th!