Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I'm no good for zombies now...

It's been a few sleepless nights around the house. I've had the opportunity to spend quite a lot of time with several friends and some family over the last many days, and that has certainly been good for my mind and my soul. My openness is high these days, so I will honestly admit that there has been an underlying current of worry, fear, and some moroseness running under these last four days.

My positivity stands. Hope is my shield against the arrows of recurrence. It is a heavy shield to hold high. I try not to judge myself too harshly when I grow weary and the burden wets my eyes.

Let's not let me get stuck in the poetics and philosophy of it all just yet boys and gals. The nuts and bolts are more what you are here to learn, and far easier subjects to write upon. So... brain radiation. Ain't that about a bitch? Yesterday I waited an extra two hours in order to be pinned down by a creepy plastic mask to a hard table for about two hours of pointed radiation therapy to blast three pinpoint-sized tumors, and one nearly 3 cm tumor on the right side of my brain. The big one was attacked first and very quickly, taking only a few minutes. The remaining three were focused on through metal cones that created much smaller lines of radiation and were attacked from multiple angles each. There would be a tech come in to move my table where they needed me, and then the machine would wind its way to the right spot and make its wonky noise for up to a minute. Repeat, repeat, repeat, ad infinitum. I napped through most of the second tumor blasting and then tried not to concentrate on the massive crick in my neck for the last hour or so of the procedure. I only asked one inappropriate question of my techs and I have to give those gentle-speaking, Zen-energy guys credit for brushing it off with aplomb. My hats off to all those who work at the cancer center and maintain the sense of ease and positivity that permeates that place for the most part. Cancer is bad business, but they handle it well there.

We have increased my steroid medication for  few days to settle any additional edema and swelling that will increase these couple of days following the treatment. Brains are sensitive and don't like being blasted up; it's prone to be a little pissy for a little while. Hopefully we can wean me off the steroids in another week and a half. They are causing some side effects I am not so fond of, including wanting to eat everything that could possibly be shoved into my now-ever-hungry maw. At least it is tights and dress season again.

I will remain on the anti-seizure medication for an undetermined time right now, though no change in my dosage. One of the small tumors was on an area that can be prone to them and this is where the one worry is for the next day or so. I have eyes solidly on me for a couple of days, and taking no chances of course. My sister left me a two-for-one Redbox coupon this morning and maybe I'll finally watch something that has that new-movie-smell.

There are no other worrisome immediate and short term side effects from yesterday's treatment. Long-term effects are possibly months or even years down the road. Necrosis of the irradiated brain tissue is the biggest issue. There is no determining if that will happen, it will just be something that we keep an eye on through scans and monitoring. Speaking of... in about six weeks they will do another MRI scan on my brain to see how everything looks and whether there was success in our blasting. From there on I will have MRIs every three months to monitor for additional tumors and, of course, necrosis. If we find more tumors, then we do this pointed brain radiation thing all over again. And I will get a brand new creepy plastic mask to bring home and wonder how to get creative with. As my radiation oncologist says, we are holding whole brain radiation in our back pocket and that is the last big gun you want to pull from the arsenal. So many problems to follow that and only so many shots at it. In the good news column, my doc also said that there is the possibility we could never see another brain tumor. Of course you know I've hitched my optimistic horse right up to that gypsy wagon!

Ideally my case is being spoken about at the tumor board at the cancer center today. I have a follow-up appointment with my medical oncologist bright and early Thursday morning to discuss the lung biopsy and subsequent treatment options that we will hopefully be attending to very, very soon - could be surgery, could be radiation, could be Cyberknife radiation, could be chemotherapy, could be some combination. My radiation oncologist will join us as well and it will be a whole follow-up festival for all!

I am working on my list of many questions, concerns, and awful subject matters that no one wants to talk about for this meeting. If all goes well these next few days and I continue to have no immediate side effects, then I still hope to attend Crown Tournament this upcoming Saturday and then immediately head to my sister's place for some welcome nephew time and a few days of walking around Traverse City taking in the beauty of Michigan fall. She is working in the T.C. office for a couple of days and it will be like a mini vacation for me and some quality evening sister time where we will seek good food and awesome coffee shops, maybe even a winery. Welcome, happy days to keep my mind focused forward on the living and the joy. 'Cause that's what it is all about folks. Take it all in. 

And check out the creepy mask folks... oh yeah! Halloween is easy this time around!