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Don Friedel


Rockvale, TN

1942 / Class of '99 / Type: IgG / Lytic lesions, pneumonia / Died 3-16-2000

My name is Rita Friedel, the wife of Don Friedel who recently passed away from the complications of MM.

Don Friedel was born on June 12, 1942 in the small town of Greenwood, DE. When he passed away on March 16,2000 we were living in Rockvale, TN.

The town that Don grew up in was a rural farming community mainly where Don played on a chicken farm. He enjoyed hunting while growing up and as an adult too. We lived in Iowa for the past four years where he hunted on farmland for pheasants. Don also worked with a lot of chemicals such as epoxy, acetone, glues and paints since he built remote control airplanes for the past 30 years.

Don was healthy most of his adult life expect for occasional allergies in the spring and minor back trouble. He had knee surgery in his twenties to remove cartilage from injuries but no other surgeries since. Don was a telecommunications engineer for the past 22 years and was not exposed to any dangerous substances in his line of work.

About one year ago, February 1999, Don had a cold that turned into pneumonia and that is when he developed pain in his rib cage and back. He went to a general practitioner several time and was told that since he had pneumonia and a great deal of coughing his muscles and diaphragm were injured and sore and this could take 6 months or so to improve. Donís pain was steadily getting worse and was given pain pills and muscle relaxers but still did not get relief.

Friends had talked to him about going to a chiropractor that had a good reputation in March 1999 and upon his examination he decided that Don had pitched nerves in his spine and this was what was sending pain to his rib cage. Don went for treatment several months until we moved to Rockvale, TN. Donís pain was much worse and he felt like one of his ribs were broken because you could feel it move and click when he laid down.

We moved to Rockvale, TN in September of 1999 and the moving just made his pain worse and he was taking Advil every four hours just about around the clock for relief. Kay, our administrative assistant had recommended that Don go to Dr. J. D. Rudd, an internist, to have a good physical and try and get to the bottom of his pain around mid-Nov. 1999. During the physical, the nurse practitioner noticed that Don had a large hernia in the abdomen area, which should be repaired. She ran many test on Don since there was a possibility of up coming surgery and Don was called back to Dr. Ruddís office three days later to get more test and cancel the appointment with the surgeon. The first test showed that there was protein in Donís urine and the blood test showed he was making twice as much blood as he should be. They did a 24-hour urine test and more blood test. Dr. Rudd told Don on his next visit that he suspected that he had MM and would have a bone biopsy done to confirmed his diagnosis.

ON Dec. 16, 1999 the diagnosis was confirmed. We were both in shock but were told that treatment could be done with Chemo and Blood Cell Stem Transplant and Don would have a good chance at making it through the procedures but it wouldnít be easy.

Due to vacation and holiday schedules, the soonest Don could get an appointment with his oncologist, Dr. John Barton in Murfreesboro, TN was January 11, 2000.He again went over the prognosis with Don and we were optimistic about his recovery. The plan was for Don to have 4 treatments of Vincristine and Adriamycin with dexamethasone four days a week in between the monthly Chemo treatments plus he would get Aredia monthly during a two hour drip.

Don was scheduled for his Porta-Cath surgery and first Chemo treatment on January 31, 2000.

He was continuing to be in much pain and having shortness of breath. Dr. Rudd suggested a 25-microgram Fentanyl patch for pain and Dr Barton concurred during a visit one day prior to his first Chemo treatment.

Donís Chemo treatment went well with virtually no major side effects. He did complain of a burning pain in his chest in about one week after the Porta-Cath was put in. An infection had started and old blood just started pouring out of one of the stitches. Dr. Barton put him on antibiotics immediately for the next few weeks. Don was not doing well with stopping the Steroids suddenly so a taper was decided but this was not done due to Don becoming ill on 2/21/00.He had trouble breathing and expressed more chest pain than usual. I had him taken to the emergency room and his oxygen level was 82% and he was admitted the next morning to ICU once visited by Dr. Barton. 

Don was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and a systemic staph infection. This was brought under control and once he was well again, it was decided he would stay a few extra days then begin his second round of Chemo on Feb. 28, 2000.He was discharged on March 3, 2000 but had to stay on oxygen at home.

Don had a pretty good week. He had not taken any Tylox or Roxanol all week for break through pain, which was a good sign to us that he was improving. He did wear a 75 microgram Fentanyl patch though.

Donís regular weekly visit was scheduled for Friday March 10, 2000 and Dr. Barton was impressed how well he looked. He did say that his white cells were down but other than that Don was good. I took Don by our office and he visited with employees from the car not knowing this would be his last visit.

Don started having more trouble breathing about 4:00 PM Saturday, March 11 and because agitated and talking about things that didnít make since. I took him back to the emergency room and he was immediately diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia again. 

Don was going down hill fast and could no longer talk to us by Monday morning due to breathing through his mouth. Pain was intense in his chest and his heart rate stayed around 160 and spiking to 185 at times and a morphine drip was started. I was told that Don would die if he was not put on a respirator but I was also told that he would never get off of it with the advanced stage of his cancer and body condition. He did not have any white blood cells left in his body to fight off the infection. He was given two pints of blood on Monday. I told them not to put him on the respirator because that would not be what Don wanted.

Don lived like this until Thursday March 16, 2000. Our 17 year old daughter and I were with him when he past away at 6:20 AM. Itís hard to believe but you can actually feel the comfort and present of the angel as they take him from this earth.

He will be missed terribly but his cancer was so far advance his immune system just couldnít take care of him any more. I believe he was diagnosed as IGG at 3.022 grams with mark abnormalities with multiple areas of lytic lesions, particularly in the rib cage area. Don lived exactly 3 months from the time of his diagnosis. He spent the last three weeks of his life mainly confined to a wheel chair due to bone pain in his hips and legs. 


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