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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Catch up Post

I guess I’ve been so caught up in political discussions for the last several months that I haven’t thought to post  any updates about what’s happening with my health and in my  life. Quite a bit has happened since  last June as it turns out. This   account will catch   me up to November.  I'll try to  get it all up to date in the next post, so please bear with me.

I had a CT scan  on June 22 that showed the  mass in my liver had decreased in size, so  my oncologist set me up for an appointment with a liver surgeon for a possible resection or ablation. The surgeon  ordered an MRI, PET scan and ultrasound, and decided to do a radiofrequency ablation rather than a resection. I was hoping   we could get it done  right away, but he wanted to wait until after my next appointment with the colorectal surgeon to get his input. Finally we got a date set and I checked into the hospital on August 16 for the procedure.

If you’re wondering what’s involved in a radiofrequency ablation, it can be done either surgically,  percutaneously or laparoscopically. Mine was done laparoscopically.  The surgeon made five incisions, then using  ultrasound imaging as a guide, he inserted  a needle electrode into the tumor.  Since there were several small  cysts that  may or may not have been  cancerous, he  attacked them too. Once the needle  is in position in the tumor, high-frequency electrical currents are then passed through the electrode to ground pads placed on the body, creating focal heat that destroys the cancer cells surrounding the electrode. It may take several  zaps with the needle in different positions to destroy the tumor. I understand  the surgeon went in eight times to zap mine. I was pretty groggy when it was all over and once the anesthesia wore off I was pretty sore too! They kept me overnight and I was discharged the following day.  It was a few days before I could actually walk upright in comfort!

I was scheduled to resume chemo two weeks later, but when I went in on August 31 they were unable to withdraw blood using my port. I   got the blood drawn from a vein and  got a shot of a declotter through the port, but still no draw and chemo was cancelled.  It was cancelled again  on Sept. 14 for the same reason, but   miraculously,   the port  was more cooperative on Sept. 28, and while   they were still unable to draw blood, they were able to go ahead with the  chemo, the first  one since the ablation. When I went in for Chemo treatment number 8 on October 14, I had a nasty  pain in my neck and shoulder as soon as they hooked up the  chemo.  They stopped the treatment and I was sent to radiology for  a fluoroscope to see what was going on with the port.  Turns out that a fibrin sheaf had built up around the catheter, blocking the end,  so chemo was cancelled for  the day.

The docs decided that the port needed to come out and a new one placed. The colorectal surgeon who had  done the  surgery to place the port  did the removal surgery on  October 25. All went well but he  said he would rather have a vascular surgeon  place the new port, so   that was scheduled  for 11/22.  In the meantime  my chemo treatments  were given  via  a needle in my arm.  Oh, how I missed that port!


Rick Watson said...

I'm sorry you're having to undergo this Grace. I can't imagine.

Grace Smith said...

It could be a lot worse, Rick- and I am still here and kicking, more or less, so that's a positive :-)