Sunday, September 24, 2017

The roller coaster ride continues....

Since some of you are not on Facebook, but keep up with my blog, I'm going to just copy and paste what I put on FB after my last Tuesday visit to the oncologist with my MRI and CT scan of chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

I would like to write a nice long detailed description of today's events on my blog, but we spent the entire day in doctors' offices, and I'm just mentally and physically exhausted. So, you'll have to get the abbreviated version tonight.

The 1st appointment Dr. Przy told me the pathology report from last week's surgery had clear margins. There were two specimens from the center that showed some atypical cells, but they were most likely inflammation from the radiation. So, he will be free to close the wound next Monday with a graft from my leg. I didn't know what to think - just couldn't believe him. I was so sure the news would be bad.
The dressing was removed and a soft one applied. Then we went to see a PA who pulled the report up on the computer and let me read it. She said she was hopeful and made me feel better. Guy said it was just an answer to a LOT of prayer. THANK YOU ALL!!!!!
Then I had the MRI of my head and CT of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. We met Mark for lunch and then went to the 1:15 appointment to find out the results of my scans. I was finally beginning to feel the elation of the morning path report, when Dr. Powers came into the room. He is the most kind, compassionate man I know, but he didn't waste any time getting to the heart of the matter. The CT scan showed a 1.1 cm spot on my liver - that was not there June 20 when I got my last scan. I felt like someone just socked me in the chest!! How could that be???? The scary thing is that it is now on the move - no longer confined to my head. Both oncologists have told me this would eventually end up in the liver or lungs. Thankfully, that was the only spot and it was small. The MRI of my head was clear. (Well, no metastasis to the brain!)
How can you go from feeling so good to feeling so rotten? He said we had a couple options. He wants to start me on Avastin - a completely different chemo drug from what I was taking. Good thing about that med is almost no side effects. Bad thing is it slows healing and you can have absolutely NO surgery for 6 weeks after you stop it. It acts by seeking out the cancer cells anywhere in the body and cutting off their blood supply. Thus, they cannot multiply. It is particularly affective against cancer in the blood. Beginning that immediately is out, since this wound on my head and graft site will have to heal 1st. In the meantime, since everything else looked good, he referred me to an interventional radiologist – just down the hall from Dr. Przylecki. By God’s grace, I was able to call and get in with him this afternoon after getting the dressing changed back to that metal piece. Apparently, this is all he does – microwave ablation. I would be asleep, placed under a scanner and a needle will be placed through my abdomen and guided by the scanner, the needle will be directed into this liver lesion. Heat will be applied and that lesion and its margins will be burned up – it will be gone. They will follow with CT scans every 2 months to be sure it heals well and no more come back. After that we wait for my head to heal before starting the new chemo – which is given once every 3 weeks. I don’t know for how long.
I’ve already got 2 nurses in LR lined out to help me with dressing changes from the surgery and graft site.
You know, as bad as it seems for me, it could have been a lot worse. When we left Dr. Power’s office, I told Guy, “I can’t even cry – I’m just numb!” And I didn’t cry until the nurse in Przylecki’s office had to remove the plastic tape dressing covering my head to place the other dressing on it. That one wasn’t done quite right the 1at time she changed it, so she had to remove it again and redo it. THAT made me cry!!!!!! And I didn’t have any pain pills with me in my purse. But there was no time to mourn the pain because, I had to beat it down the hallway to see the new doctor before he locked his doors. When we left, all the other doors were locked, so we took the stairs and got locked in the stairwell. That place is a maze!! A LOCKED maze at 5:00 pm. Thus, a wonderful drive home in RUSH hour traffic.
Oh, one more thing. You know I had this ominous nagging in the back of my mind that this trip was not going to go well. That’s why I was so shocked when Dr. Przylecki said the path report was good. I never dreamed that Dr. Powers would be the one to confirm my suspicions. Sometimes we just have that 6th sense….
Oh, more. I had the nurse take a picture of the wound on my head after she removed the dressing and before putting the new one on. Sorry, that one won't even be posted at the bottom of my blog! That one nearly got to me!!!!!! 7 cm circle of GROSSNESS!!!!
I guess this ended up kind of long after all…..oh, well…
As always……I remain in His hands,,,,,,no where else to go….

P.S.  Here's a picture and little blurb I posted later in the week.

This was Annie after we got home Wednesday.  I think she was more tired than we were! 😀

My hair (what I have) is a "reverse-skunk" do!  The top and back and most of other side are bare (radiation).  You know people wear such weird hair-dos today, I don't think I even stick out 
much when I go out.  My head is too sore right now to wear anything  on it.  It really doesn't bother me to just walk around like this.

It's Sunday night now and In Overland Park again. Gotten to be quite a habit! Was to be at hospital at 6:30 in the morning but got a call that my surgery was postponed to 1:00 pm. Yikes! I'll be starving by then! Oh, well....just want it over. Will need a graft from my leg (hopefully from the already numb area from previous surgeries) to close the wound. Not looking forward to all the dressing changes.  I've got a couple RNs from home that will help me with the dressing changes.  The last time I had a graft, was with the original surgery, and I was here in OP for 3 months, so I had home health care take care of that.  I can manage my leg dressing changes by myself, but not the back of my head.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Just don't have a very good feeling tonight.....

We are in Overland Park at Mark’s house.  Got here shortly after lunch.  We came prepared to stay through Thursday and possibly Friday. Here was the schedule for the week:
Tomorrow – Tuesday
8:30 am be at Dr. Przyleck’s office (clear downtown) to have the metal dressing removed – can’t have metal anywhere near my head for the MRI. Have another temporary dressing put on.
9:30 – drive to Dr. Mammen’s office (original CA surgeon) to see his PA.
10:15 – get MRI of head and CT scan of chest, abdomen, and pelvis (same building, thankfully)
1:15 – Drive to Dr. Power’s office (oncologist) to find out results of MRI and scan, and find out the next plan.
Wednesday – day of rest!
Thursday – have surgery (1st case) to permanently close current wound – most likely with a graft from my leg.  Go home that day or stay at Mark’s for the night and go home to LR Friday.

Somewhere in here I was to find out the results of the pathology report – since we had not heard yet.

WELL……on the way here this morning, Dr. Przylecki’s nurse called me.  I was glad to hear her voice, because if the news is bad, it is always the doctor that calls me.  However, it was not particularly good.  Dr. Prezylecki wanted me to come back to his office, so he could reapply this metal dressing after the testing.  ARGH!!  I vowed as soon as I saw him, I would ask him what the purpose of the dressing was, because I never wanted another one like it again!  It has been the most painful of all the postop times.  It is hard, and it does not give! And it drains  – have to carry a Kleenex with me all the time to keep it from running down my neck! I asked her what the purpose of it is.  She said it was to put pressure on it, and it contains medication to prevent infection and bleeding, and aid in healing.  I said, “Well, I do not like it!!!”  I was about to ask about the path report, and she said, “We have not received the path report yet, and Dr. Przylecki is afraid because it is taking so long, it may not be back by Thursday, so he wants to postpone the surgery until Monday.”  ARGH!!!!!!  She said he is aware of our long drive to here.  So now do we go home Tuesday and drive back Sunday afternoon???  We didn’t come prepared to stay that long – my meds will run out before that time.  WHAT A MESS!!!

Here’s what I think – I’ll bet that path report IS back, and it is not good, and he needs more time for taking more tissue and a long reconstructive surgery, and he didn’t schedule enough time for Tuesday because he has another surgery after me.  I don’t know why I think that, but I just have not had a good feeling all along for this last report. I think Dr. Mammen needs to go back to doing the surgery, and Przylecki just reconstructing.  If this wound gets much bigger, it will require a flap rather than a graft.  This last go-round Dr. Przylecki mentioned a “back flap” just in passing – didn’t expand, and I didn’t ask, but I do remember the words being used.  That’s just about the last thing I would want again – another flap – another 7 days in ICU.  I know I’m running down rabbit trails I have no business going down, but I’m getting pretty exasperated!  Just sew this wound up if the news is bad and send me back to chemo.

Here is my fear with chemo.  I was taking chemo (AND radiation) when this last weird booger popped up and was not affected by the treatment I was taking.  That had to be cut out – and it started this last round of seemingly endless surgeries.  I keep hearing my Hutch oncologist’s words ringing in my ears – the fact that these things often mutate – they get tired of being attacked by the current chemo agent, and some break off and go mutate.  This last tumor was not like the other ones that the chemo attacked and vaporized.  It itched the whole time, and it looked different – with the HAIR GROWING OUT OF IT!  This last patch that he took had itchy bumps all over it, none of which had changed color, but nevertheless, the positive biopsy was in that area.  So. if it has indeed mutated, I’m not sure that same chemo would work.  I liked that chemo (if there is such a thing as “liking” chemo), because the side effects were so minimal.  The other chemo they considered had serious side effects.

Again, I’m running down another rabbit trail, but the analytical nurse in me has a tendency to do that – I know too much!

I know God is in control, and He is will be all the way, but sometimes, your faith just wanes a bit in the face of reality.

I really must go to bed since I have a very big day ahead of me tomorrow.  Please pray I can get a decent night’s sleep with all the itching all night long (withdrawal side effects of tapering off of Cymbalta ARGH!!!!!)  Haven’t slept well for many nights. I just feel like things are so up in the air right now, and it’s all a big mess!  I need my peace and calmness back – having a hard time getting it.

But… always……I’m still in His hands……..

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Preop, surgery, and postop.....

We made it home - safe and sound. I'm actually feeling pretty good (thank you, pain pills!), just very weary. I'm probably feeling better than Guy, bless his heart. But he is the one that wanted to come on home to LR. Nothing like your own bed to sleep in, although Mark's beds are quite comfortable.

My biggest fear I think this morning was getting my power port accessed for the IV. They seem to have had trouble the last several times there. The problem is that they only stock 3/4" needles, and the infusion centers always use 1". This is the needle that goes though my skin and directly into the port. (I always put lidocaine cream over the port area and cover it with Press N Seal.). I had as really swell nurse this morning who had a preceptor with her. The nurse was doing it all and explaining everything she was doing. As she was preparing to access the port, I asked her if her needle was 3/4 or 1. She said she had both. (Surprise!!) I told her they always had trouble with the 3/4 and the infusion centers always used 1". She said, "Oh! Thank you for sharing that with me!" She asked to have the 1" apparatus dropped onto the sterile field, and proceeded to slip it into my port, slick as a whistle!! I thanked her for making that procedure go so well. She was very competent, sweet, and had a great sense of humor.

Thank you, God, for sending this lady to care for me during the preop part of the morning. You knew just what I needed this morning to calm my fears.

The last time I went to the OR room, I had to slide from the cart to this very cold table that was covered by a cream-colored plastic thingy - brrrrrr! This time the table was covered in sheets and bent into a shape that I presumed was going to fit my body once they turned me over. However, anesthesia told me they would put me to sleep right here on the cart. Nice!! So I started breathing the oxygen through the mask. And promptly woke up in recovery!! 😊

The Dr told Guy everything went well. I saw him in the preop time, and he drew all these marks on my head. That squiggling on the lower neck was just to mark which side - they always have to do.

He told me all these different kinds of dressings he might sew onto my head to cover the site that would remain until we heard from pathology. He said he would determine which one after he got in there. I showed him the area of my concern - where all those rashy-looking, itchy bumps were from the lower stitches to almost my ear. He looked it over carefully, knowing my suspicions from that biopsy turned out to be true, and he marked it well to include my suspicious areas. He said he would take what he suspected - and then take a little more beyond that - thus the solid and dotted lines. That's what I wand to hear! I told him my ear was itching a lot, but I wondered if it might be the feeling coming back into it. He chuckled and said, "Well I'm not taking your ear this time."

As soon as I awoke in recovery, the usual vital signs were taken and the "Take a deep breath," instructions given. Soon she gave me some fentanyl for the burning-type pain and 2 oxycodone to get on board. Then came the crackers and Sprite which meant that the wheelchair would not be far behind!😊 It is just about "drive-thru-surgery" these days. After the crackers and Sprite, it was time to get dressed. Guy helped me with that. He took a picture of the dressing. I must say I've never seen anything like this!! It is a foil-type mesh. Enlarge the picture, and you can see the mesh part. (As well as some STAPLES!! Staples??? He didn't say anything about staples...oh, well....I guess it is not coming off of there until he takes it off) They said the next time I saw him would be in surgery again.

Then Guy went for the car. He had had to park on the top level so I knew he would be a bit. I leaned back to rest, but it was not long until here came the wheelchair. The pain pills had kicked in by then, so I was feeling pretty good.

It was 1:00 as we pulled away from the hospital. One hour in recovery. We got to Mark's with no problem, and they loaded our things into the car, including Annie, of course! And we took off. It was rush hour, but we didn't have far to get out of town. Since I had to be at the hospital this morning at 8:30, we were in big-time rush hour, but Guy did a good job, and we were not late.

OK, that's enough for tonight. Just praising the Lord for the day - made it through surgery well and safely home. Thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers and encouraging words!!!! Love you all!! ❤️❤️❤️

And as always....I remain in His hands...