Friday, May 23, 2008

Radiation Now

So I had a meeting today with Jason Rockhill, MD PhD and family friend, and my mother, Marsh, and Ian. Jason is a straight talker, to the point, and doesn’t mince words if he has the option. I know that things are a bit more uncomfortable for him with me than with other patients, with all the family history. Also, I have been a hugely important resource to his parents—taking care of their 80+ acres, dogs and, most importantly, horses when they’re on vacation, and I know he feels at least a modicum of responsibility to keep their housekeeper alive and functional.

That said, I am in, straightly speaking, dire straits. The thing that makes most doctors the most nervous is the tumor in my lower brain, which is pressing on my spinal column. The spinal column keeps my lungs functioning, my organs pumping away, and my heart beating. If the spinal column gets too compressed, it can’t do those things, and I die. As we talked about at the ER on Wednesday night, a neurosurgery to remove that tumor was one way to deal with the extreme iffyness of that situation. However, since then the anesthesiologists have been contacted, and with the mass of disease in my lungs, they are worried that the mere fact of surgery at this time will greatly increase my chances of major complications. I.e. paralyzation, or death, up from 1-3% to 5-10%. Because of the lung disease, there’s a greater chance of blood issues, of breathing issues, of lots of things that I perhaps am just not remembering right now.

Of course, all the time, under treatment or not, as long as there are spots in my brain, I’m at risk of seizures. I am not to drive for the time being.

It seems that I have to start chemo ASAP, and I have to respond well to it, so I can get into surgery and deal with the brain. Of course we are hoping that I will, and we have past experience with this chemo, years ago, and it worked very well. But I can’t start without at least addressing, a little, the brain disease at this point, even if not at the level we would like to address it.

So what I’m doing this afternoon is starting a low-grade, full brain radiation treatment. I am going to have it 5 days in a row, even over the holiday weekend (no matter who has to come in and push the button on the machine). I am not to go to Orcas Island right now, because I’d have to be airlifted back, in case of any dire issues, in a helicopter. I’ve never been in a helicopter, but I’d prefer to be in a better position to enjoy the ride. The potential side effects of this treatment range from the minor—reddish skin on the sides of my head—to the potentially life-changing—a stent and a tube put into the top of my brain and run, under the skin, to my abdomen, where excess brain fluid can drain and be absorbed by my body. I will then have Wednesday off, then I will get my port placement on Thursday morning and begin my chemo treatments that day.

NOTE: more to this post coming. I'm having some issues with Microsoft Word (shocker) and so I lost part of my writing, but I have to head off now to get to the clinic. But I wanted you all to get this beginning post at least.

1 comment:

Caringthinkingperson said...


It is really too bad about Orcas, but so sensible about the helicopter. Who wants to puke and rotate at the same time?

I'm glad you at least get Wed. off, this is more full time than full time. Speaking of time, you'll need quite a lot of it to read the following post, as I got rather verbose (what's new?). But since I had to register to send you a message on your blog, I started my own.

"One Note At A Time"

You are such an inspiration. Get off my butt and do it. Actually, since I was sitting and typing it was stay on my butt and do it. I first put this out on DailyKOS and a writer there asked me to start writing more stories, and interview other people for their political opinions. It turns out he was a copy editor from the Dallas Morning Star. So, I bit the bullit. At least in this longer form I can't be acused of writing too many lyrics!