26 July 2010

once more, with feeling

I was put under the robot-held knife the morning of July 22, four days ago. My sister Julie drove down from GA to be with me, so she had the honor of making sure I arrived at the hospital promptly at 5:30 am. I was all ready with my big girl pants to get the IV in the crook of my arm, but to my surprise (and surprisingly, my horror) the nurse wanted to put it in my hand. Before long, I had a double-dose of Versed and was vaguely aware of being asked to take deep breaths.

In recovery, they told me I had to wake up, and I heard them talking, saying that I was taking a while to come out of it. But once I did wake up and notice the time, it wasn't too much after 11; the surgery must not have taken too long. They got me in a chair and gave me apple juice and Saltine crackers. I had talked to Dr M ahead of time about not wanting to take Percocet, so he prescribed LorTabs for me instead. The nurse had me take one, but it made me feel sick so since then I've taken just Tylenol.

I'm told that Dr M was able to remove the entire "offending" mass, which includes a lymph node or two. It must also have included some nerves, because now I have a spot on my right thigh, about the size of my hand, where I feel absolutely nothing at all. It disturbs me, this, but I'll get over it. He also took some fluid from an ovarian cyst.

So now, random samples of my innards have been forwarded on to what I can only assume is a top-notch team of crack pathologists that will work night and day to find out what is vexing me. And I shall find out at my follow-up appointment on August 2nd. Until then, I'm left to wait. And so are you...

20 July 2010

again, I gotta deal with all of this?

I'm back, boys and girls, and I'm not happy one little bit.

It's been a while since I've written. A while since there has been anything to say. I've had six uneventful follow-ups since I finished my radiation/chemo. About 18 months of feeling like - hey, maybe I really did beat this thing.

And now.... not so much.

Part of my routine is a CT scan every June. The most recent one showed something that wasn't there before: a 1 to 1.5 cm mass on the right side of my pelvic wall. In a place that might normally be inhabited by a lymph node. The OIQ (Object In Question) could be nothing. Could be scar tissue, or an overactive lymph node, or something that was there all along but just got missed by scans past. But given my history, Dr M didn't want to take any chances, and I agreed. Let's find out what it is exactly and deal with it asap.

Initially, we both liked the idea of a needle biopsy (inasmuch as one can "like" that sort of thing). Unfortunately, the OIQ was in such a location that it would be difficult to get to with a needle. So gears were switched to a surgical biopsy, which I was none too pleased about. Because if you remember, my dear readers,
surgery = prep
prep = unhappiness

And it isn't just the prep, it's the healing and the pain and the not being able to eat or carry things or drive or whatever. For my last go-round, I was living with someone that was there to do all those things; now I'm on my own. Nobody to fetch me a glass of water at 2am. Nobody to run and get the mail. Nobody to whine to at whim.

THUS, you can imagine my relief when I received word that Dr M was just not comfortable doing a surgical biopsy, that doing surgery on a radiated area has its challenges and he didn't want to go that route unless it was absolutely necessary. Instead, he would like a PET scan.

Now, contrary to the images it conjures, nobody waved hamsters or turtles or cats or dogs or bearded dragons over me. PET scans, I have learned, look at energy given off during the absorption of glucose: cancer cells tend to burn glucose at a higher rate than most other cells, so by looking at what areas 'light up', we can see what areas might be actively cancerous. I had mine on Monday.

The scan itself was uneventful - I fell asleep during and dreamed of ice cream. The - here's that word again - prep was annoying but nothing drastic: no carbs for 24 hours prior, no physical activity for 48 hours prior. And the morning of, you get a nice injection of radioactive glucose. That injection was, I assure you, no fun at all. I tried - I really did. I put on my big-girl pants and let her put that needle right in the crook of my elbow, the very place that just 2 short years ago I didn't even want another person to look at, let alone touch. Let alone stab. So I was doing good. IV went in without a hitch. Nuclear liquid went in, no problem. IV came out, all was..... woah. Wait a minute.... I'm not feeling so........... I can sum it up best by saying that my blood pressure was so low that three times the machine could not get a reading, and I have a vague memory of someone saying my pulse was 33.

And then it was time to get the results. This morning. I knew before Dr M could tell me anything that it wasn't good. The nurses were a bit too nice, a bit too sympathetic. So it didn't completely surprise me to hear that yes, the PET scan showed a bright spot in the same place they saw the OIQ in the CT scan. And since he's not comfortable saying Yes This Is Cancer Again based on what he sees in the scan, Dr M wants to get in there and have a good look. And this means - say it with me - SURGERY. Mother clucking, some-in-a-batching, ass-sucking surgery. On Thursday.

Which means what? PREP! If I was the swearing type, I would be letting loose a string of expletives that would take the wax out of your ears. Two 10-oz bottles of that loveliest of all laxatives, cherry flavored magnesium citrate. I look forward to spending my Wednesday perched atop a porcelain throne. Oh. Joy.

I'll keep you posted...