Saturday, June 7, 2008

News Trending in the Direction of Our Goal

Yesterday I had my last initial staging test, a full-spine MRI. This took about an hour, maybe a little more, and the backs of my knees were sweaty by the time I was done. Strange. For the first time, I was able to have a test using my Power Port as the access for the markered contrast, instead of having to get yet another IV stuck into my arm. It was quite the pleasure.

Because of the location and size of the one particular lesion at the base of my skull, there was some concern that cells from it would’ve seeped down into my spinal cord, setting up home and compromising its integrity somewhere down my back. If that were the case, we would have to come up with something besides the typical chemo/brain radiation scheme to take care of it, because the spinal cord fluid is, much like the brain fluid, separated from the rest of the body by a membrane (or maybe even the idea of a membrane—I think the blood/brain barrier isn’t actually a membrane per se, although the dura is . . . basically, I don’t know my anatomy all that well). Anyway, the pictures showed a clear white path of fluid all down my spine, unencumbered by any strange swellings or pushings. Of course, the MRI did remind us of a couple bone lesions in a couple of my vertebrae, but they were expected and, considering, look likely to be stable as they’re dealt with by drugs.

The other bit of news we liked the sounds of was that the lesions in my brain seem to have changed very, very slightly for the smaller and more necrotic. The large one in the base of my head looks perhaps a millimeter smaller, and a little bit dead in the middle. The test yesterday was not designed to check specifically for the brain mets—I have another brain MRI in about 3 weeks which is really designed to do that new staging (the radiation takes some time to work, so they weren’t expecting to see much yesterday)—but as Doctor Jason pointed out, we take as much information as we can possibly get, as we get it. He made it clear that things were, very slightly, calming down—but that I am still at high risk, still not to drive, still to take it easy, still to be aware of any symptoms that might bother me suddenly. Another good sign, the radiation oncologists felt, was that I myself am feeling better—much less nausea, and my headache of a couple weeks ago went away.

So—the philosophical question of the day is, then, why did I not just title this entry “Good News”?

That is a good question, and I’m not yet sure how I feel about the answer. I hit a trough in my surfing earlier this week, when my hair started to come out, when my throat started to hurt and my sense of taste hit about 30%. By about Tuesday afternoon, I realized that the things I was eating I theoretically liked a lot . . . but they were mostly just texture. By my infusion Thursday, and the incredibly busy day at the SCCA that made me be moved 3 times in the 8 hours I was there, I was tired and grumpy.

But even in the trough, I recognized a deep joy in life. We have troughs—we have days, sometimes many days—where the surface is hard, is unpleasant. But it’s a wave, a cycle. And I knew, below my disgruntlement, that I was good—that I was happy—that I was strong—that I was getting well.

Also, I still very much believe that my cancer diagnosis was not bad news, it was simply news. Yes, we’re human, and we are emotional creatures, and so there was some euphoria in the fact of my three metastatic diagnoses, and I did find (still do), the awful, awful pictures and cautions genuinely hilarious. They were just too much to not be. But if that’s not bad news, is news of a clear spinal column good news? I guess, to be fair, it’s not—it too is just news.

Don’t get me wrong—I am thrilled with the news, because I hoped for it, because I expected it, because it is our goal. Because this is the news we need and want and pray for if I am to live through this, if I am to learn life from this experience and not death. And I do want to learn life from this—I do very much want to come from this experience with a deeper understanding of love and relationship and purpose and interaction. And I want to ride again, and travel again, and drive again, and expand my physical world again back out from the beautiful, comfortable, cozy and well-cared for, but limited position it is in right now.

So for now, News Trending in the Direction of Our Goal.


Robert said...

I'm very glad to hear of some news trending in the direction of your goals! Also impressed to hear that Ian gave you that haircut himself.

Ian said...

Notice that there was no picture of the haircut, or you would be less impressed.

Andrienne said...

Calin, I cut hair really well, if you need corrective measures! - also, added a comment to the Constipation log - please check it out...

Gregory said...

Calin, I'm very happy to hear that things are going well. I'm still sending lots of positive energy your way; I'm hoping it makes it all the way and doesn't hop off in Minneapolis or something.

And you know, isn't chemo treatment a really good time to practice haircutting skills? You know it's going to come out, so the stakes aren't that high, right?

CMT said...

The hair is SO out already. I have just enough left for an interesting Mad Scientist look. Accentuated this morning by the fact that I'd only slept an hour, and was up at 6 cleaning the fridge. Oh, it's fun here ;).