When I was diagnosed, I was immediately put on a 2-week regimen of Hydroxyurea and Allopurinol (which keeps the kidneys from clogging up during the mass CML destruction phase). I had no material side effects during this period ... I continued running 3 - 4 miles daily while on hydro & allopurinol ... heck, it was the only way I could clear my mind in light of the diagnosis.
I don't hear this much on the board, but the oncologist who diagnosed my case said that if you start with a high WBC (> 100,000), then starting with Hydro is a good practice, because then you can transition to a TKI with a more normal WBC from the get-go. When you start the TKI treatment path with a normal WBC, then you can gauge initial hematological response faster since the "noise in the system" has been quickly knocked down first. For my case, I was diagnosed with 155,000 WBC, took hydro for a couple of weeks, then I had a WBC of 6,500 when I took my first Gleevec dose - I literally took my last Hydro dose on a Monday evening, threw the bottle in the recycle bin, and started Gleevec on the next morning with breakfast. Within a few days of starting Gleevec, my WBC dropped further to 3,200 (also pretty common), and it has continued to hover between 3,200 - 4,200 ever since.
Linda - Phil's exactly right ... the vast majority of patients start on one of the TKI therapies in short order, stabilize, and life will largely return to normal (albeit, a new normal) as the amount of CML burden in the body decreases to very low (and in some cases, undetectable) levels. It's truly remarkable stuff.
Definitely post any questions about his bone marrow biopsy results when you get them, because the group on this board can analyze the results better than many oncologists (believe it or not!).