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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gut Feelings, Part 4

I met with the medical oncologist, Dr. Vance, on April 29.  I had blood drawn, asked for a copy of the results for my files, and was weighed.  I’ve lost weight, was down to just over 81 lbs. Dr. Vance was concerned about the spots on my liver and said she wanted to rule out liver metastasis so she scheduled a PT scan.  She explained the treatment plan to me, which called for the drug 5-FU (Fluorouracil) to be delivered via an infusion pump worn 24/5. Once I have the port in place, I’ll go to the clinic on Mondays to have the pump set up and return on Fridays to have it removed. She said she would work with the radiation oncologist to coordinate the radiation therapy with the chemotherapy. The PET scan was set for May 11 and the appointment with the radiation oncologist for May 12.

I was given a set of instructions to prepare for the PET scan, including what to eat and not eat and was instructed to avoid strenuous exercise such as jogging or weightlifting.  Since I have become more akin to the tortoise than to the hare lately,  this should not be a problem.

The night before the scan was scheduled I had a dream that I lit up the scanner like a Christmas tree and knocked out the power to the entire wing of the building. Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive!  I arrived for the PET scan and was shown into a small room with a reclining chair.  The technician asked some questions, then injected radioactive glucose into  my arm.  He   accidentally dropped the syringe on my leg, which meant my pants were now radioactive.   He brought me a pair of scrub pants to change into. I think they were designed for someone built like a linebacker, but I dutifully put them on, cinched them as tight as I could, rolled up the legs and waited in the chair for an hour while the radioactive stuff seeped through my body.  I then waddled across the hall in my Bozo the Clown pants  and climbed onto the scan table. If you close your eyes in a PET scanner, it's easy to imagine you're on a farm listening to noisy machinery while a neighing, whinnying, snorting horse tap dances all around you. At least that was my experience. The whole experience took a bit longer than the CT scan but wasn’t too bad and the power didn’t go out, after all, thank goodness!

The next day I met with the radiation oncologist, who  gave me yet another digital rectal exam,  and explained what the radiation would involve. I was directed to a lab for another CT scan and I was marked to show where the  radiation beams  were to be directed. I mentioned to the  doctor that I’d  had a PET scan the day before, and his nurse suggested that the results might be available on the computer, so she  pulled them up.  I sensed, from the expression on her face that all was not well, but they didn’t say anything and I, uncharacteristically, didn’t ask because I was determined to enjoy the next week.  Our son, Brian, was due to arrive that afternoon from Illinois and would  be leaving the day I was scheduled to have the port placed. We did enjoy that week, we fitted in a  ball game to watch the Birmingham Barons play at Regions Field, and a Sunday afternoon spent enjoying blues music by Earl Williams at Daniel Day Gallery downtown.

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