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Friday, October 24, 2008

Medical Update -- Bone Scan, CT, & Chemo

And now for our weekly edition.....

(for those who just want to read the "bottom line", feel free to skip to the end)

Wednesday, 8:30: (accompanied by mom)
1. Arrived at SZ (Sha'are Zedek) for bone scan.

2. Got the shot that makes me glow, and waited two hours for the scan.

3. In a brilliant, last minute coup, (if I do say so myself) while waiting, I went for a follow up visit to the ENT -- I was supposed to go a month ago, but since my ear was no longer killing me, I had not found the time to get around to it... (missed that exciting saga? see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

4. I finished my follow up ENT visit (everything is fine), just in time to go for the scan.

5. Results of the scan would be available on Thursday.

6. I was wiped out! On our way out of the hospital, my mom wanted to stop by and say "hi" to her friend's son, TZ, who runs the ER. I was too tired.

7. We went home and I crashed!
(Just before I fell into bed, I told my mom "Hospitals are no place for healthy people!")

Thursday, 8:30:
1. Went to oncology to open my port and get a blood test.

2. My doctor whizzed by, and called out to me: "bone scan - no change."

3. Went down to get my CT.

4. Gave the secretary my referral, and happened to notice that the referral was only for a "chest/stomach/pelvis" CT. It was missing only one, very important word: "head." I had requested that we also CT my head, in case there was some cancer activity sneaking around my brain (which might explain the rising markers).

5. Went back up to oncology, in search of my oncologist, to add the missing link.

6. 45 minutes later, mission accomplished, I returned for the CT.

7. The secretary gave me a plastic "jerrycan" of DISGUSTING liquid to drink. I added two full cups of artificial juice concentrate (lots of sugar and food coloring, no nutritional value!). It did not help much.

8. I had to drink two cups to start, and then a cup every ten minutes. Much to the amusement of all present, when I drank, I held my nose and gulped down the liquid. Then I shivered in disgust. (it makes me shiver, just thinking about it). YUCK!

9. I learned, from M, the woman sitting next to me (whom I recognized from chemo), that there is a video camera focused on the CT waiting area. Apparently, she once dumped several cups of her drink in the garbage bin and planters in the waiting area. The CT staff showed her the video of her crime, asking her to refrain, in the future, from "watering the plants!"

10. Two hours later, I finished the drink and had the CT.

11. Went back to oncology, to find out if I would get chemo. The doctor did not know yet. It was 12:10 and I had been fasting all morning (beside that "CT special," Barium drink). I went off in search of food, knowing that as soon as I sat down to eat, I would get the call to come back for chemo.

12. The oncologist called, I would get chemo... today (for details of the call, see below)

13. Back up to oncology, with my food, to get chemo, and the bone drugs (oops! forgot about that! good thing I showed up for regular chemo!)

14. It was after 4:00 when we finally finished!

15. On our way out, we visited with TZ, who is a very interesting, and very nice person.

16. As we were leaving, my oncologist passed by. This month, in addition to his regular responsibilities, he is overseeing "intake" in the oncology ward (the regular ward, not the day ward). This makes him less available to his normal patients (well, I am not sure you could describe me as "normal," but you know what I mean). Despite his outward calm, I can see that this additional job is streching him to the limit.

Bottom Line:
* My oncologist told me that he wants to "sit" on those images for a few days. He wants to examine the images, bone by bone, which will take a while. And he wants to discuss my case in a staff meeting.

He is also considering sending the images for an outside opinion, from someone not connected to the hospital (it was unclear if he had someone specific in mind, though I know that he consults with an oncologist at Sloan Kettering).

Thursday evening, Moshe and I read the report from the bone scan. It does not look good to me. I will try to stay calm, until we talk with my oncologist on Tuesday.

A few weeks ago, I asked my oncologist where, exactly, is the cancer in my bones. He answered that it's all over my skeleton and that there is not enough time to go bone by bone.

Well, the bone scan report pretty much spelled it out for me:

"... in the shoulders, sternum, the entire length of the spinal column, both sides of the ribs, both sides of the pelvis, hip joints, and femurs."

Meanwhile, I will breathe slowly, and try not to focus on this stuff.

Shabbat Shalom!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Anonymous said...

Be strong - I too have the metastasised cancer in all my skeleton - and have had for six years - as I've told you before. Yes, my back hurts and I've had one hip joint crumble away enforcing a hip replacement, but with the help of good painkillers, I still function. I am tired and have to lie down more often than I'd like - but I've just spent two weeks with two of my grandchildren and that makes everything worthwhile.

So persevere, don't second guess your doctors, don't assume the worst, and enjoy all the blessings you have with your husband and children. Shabbat Shalom.

Imstell said...

Hang tough! We're here to support you!

A Living Nadneyda said...

I'm sending you strength to keep focusing on the good things... Shavua tov.

rutimizrachi said...

Now cranking up the davening to a higher horsepower!

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

You are strong! We are here to amplify that strength. We love you, we continue to daven AND think warm healing thoughts.

Sending you big hugs and THANKS for this update. It could not have been easy to put it all down and WRITE what you do not want to think about.

Again, we love you. *I* love you!

Rahel Jaskow said...

Sending lots of prayers and hugs your way, RivkA.

Baila said...

Always, always, always thinking of you. I what the first commenter says. My aunt has also been living with this for a few years now (I don't remember exactly how many, but its been quite a while). Her doctor told her to think of it as a diabetes-type of disease, where it's a chronic condition controlled by medication, and to not let the word "cancer" scare her. (Of course, it does anyway, but she has found a way to live with this disease, much like you are). May G-d grant you continued strength!

Rivki said...

Oh RivkA! We've been talking in email about pronuciation of name,and came here today to read why your blog spot was called coffee and chemo. May G-d heal you head to toe and bless and strenghten you so abundantly that you can not contain it!

Batya said...

Refuah Shleimah!! There are no other words to bless you with.

ps That ER doctor must be the one who told my parents last year that his medical opinion was that they make aliyah.

Shevy said...

Oy, RivkA, just reading about all the tests and procedures made me tired. I can't imagine how you felt after it all.

The bone scan is a lot to take in and it's good to take deep breaths and just keep davening.

I continue to mention you in my davening and asked for a mi sheberach for you today in shul. What better time than parsha Bereshit to have a refuah shleimah?

SuperRaizy said...

We are continuing to pray for a refuah shleimah for you. Keep being strong!

A Soldier's Mother said...

If I have no words, can I just send my love and prayers? Thanks for keeping us updated - it isn't easy, but it helps us focus more on you and our prayers for your health.



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