Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Schedule

I have spent at least an hour this afternoon entering my infusion/test/doctor visits schedule into my online calendar. I'm not done with entering data, however—I still need to make sure I have everything updated in my paper calendar too, the one I carry around in my purse. Some people may think that my paper calendar is, or should be, obsolete. Some people may think that I should get some sort of extra fancy phone that will access my online calendar and whatnot, that it would save me time and hassle. They're probably right, that time and hassle would be saved, but I was able to dig through an old paper calendar the other day (from 2005) and come up with the phone number of a friend in Portugal who I really wanted to talk to. I can't see me having so much luck electronically (okay, okay, Luddite, yes, I know. So what.).

Part of what I was doing with today's scheduling was replacing certain medically-related events with other medically-related events, to wit: at my last appointment with Dr Specht, she suggested now would be a good time to get a PET scan, so that we can have some idea of what sort of cancer activity, if any, is still occurring in my body. The PET has to take place a minimum of two weeks after I stop using Neupogen, because Neupogen would trigger false positives in the bones, and I have to use Neupogen while I'm having chemotherapy, so I will not have chemotherapy for two weeks (although I will continue Herceptin because that doesn't really have side effects). This is exciting news in and of itself—I will get to have a taste of days 8-21. I did get up to day 14 in January after the Hawaii trip, and this is bound to be even better.

The reason for the PET scan now is that it will supplement the CTs that I have been getting and will help us determine whether nodules that show up in my lungs and bones are still active or are merely scar tissue (undoubtedly there is scar tissue from both the cancer and the PCP). I don't believe it will scan my brain, but I don't remember for sure. The PET measures metabolism of cancer cells versus normal cells. To do this, I get injected with radioactive glucose. Cancer cells take in glucose more quickly than normal cells, so a picture is formed of, basically, pooled radioactivity. The last PET of my chest that I remember seeing, several years ago, looked like a galaxy in reverse—countless dark stars glowing ominously in my lungs. This one won't be as bad, but it might still show the occasional star. Because of the radioactivity, I am to stay away from children and pregnant women the day of the scan.

I've been sitting here, composing this entry and thinking about where my time goes, and here it is: in my scheduling, in my blogging, in my hour or two per night of extra chemo sleep, in finagling my blocks of time and working everything I want to do around everything that I must do. This cancer and my recovery process are not things that I can compartmentalize—they permeate my existence. It's like a solution of water and some other mineral—often, as with salt dissolved in water, you can't see it. But you sure can taste it, in the tiniest sip. I realized some time ago that my cancer recovery was my job. It's finally coming to me that it is my full-time job.

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