Sorry I haven't been updating here. Mostly on Facebook or the Caring Bridge site.
On September 10th, I underwent another craniotomy. This time it was all the way sleeping and it was much faster and with a lot less pain. I was out of the hospital on the 13th and have been home resting since then.
The hospital stay was fine. The great staff at UNMC did a wonderful job at keeping me comfortable and healthy. My parents were there as well as friends, family and people from work.
Being at home has been good, spending a lot of time resting my bones, watching television and the internet.
The hardest part has been coping with the side effects of Decadron, the corticosteroid that helps with the edema in my brain. My main side effects are muscle cramping, flatulence and insomnia. So yeah, I can't really do stairs well, walk fast, I stink and I'm up at 5am for no good reason.
There is a certain level of boredom I'm fighting with movies, television, video games, the dogs, cleaning and napping. I'm looking forward to returning to a normal routine of work and being more independent with driving.
All is good right now, don't worry about me. I've got this.
Some of you know this story, because you were told in person.
To review, there was a mysteroius bright spot on a recent MRI in my brain that was possibly a brain tumor beginning to grow. It could also have been scar tissue from radiation therapy from 2011. Or something totally harmless. After a round of dexamethazone and another MRI, the bright spot was still there so that showed it could still be a tumor.
On Monday 2/17 I underwent a scan called a Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. This scan is able to identify the chemicals in certain parts of the brain identifying the type of tissue/cells in the images. Yeah, I know, like magic.
A few hours after the scan, my neuro-oncologist phoned me and told me the data is saying that it is likely tumor cells. Oh crap, another surgery! She was then going to consult with a neurosurgeon and the Tumor Board.
I imagine the Tumor Board to be a lot like the Super Friends. A superhero, each with their own specialty and powers. Except for the Wonder Twins, who were useless.
So on Wednesday night the Tumor Board met and I get a call on Thursday morning. My neuro-oncologist informs me that a neuroradiologist on the Tumor Board thinks that the data from my scan says that it really isn't a tumor. My neuro-oncologist deferred to the neuro-radiologist's opinion and agreed that we're not looking at tumor matter. Yay! Not sure what it is, but it's not going to kill me.
So if you can imagine the rollercoaster of emotions over the last few days. From one minute to the next I would be readying myself for the fight of my life, preparing to obliterate all the tumor cells in my body and maybe a few other peoples' bodies as well, and being everyones' hero. Or, I would be planning the last months of my life, funeral, getting my wife a subscription to eharmony etc. :P
The next step is another standard MRI in late March. Keeping an eye on all parts of my brain bright dots and grey matter.
Such is the life of a brain tumor survivor and mass kicker.
So in late December the MRI showed no change in the grey matter. This is good of course. However it showed a mysterious bright dot that was never seen in previous MRIs. I was placed on dexamethasone for 3 weeks to see if the dot would disappear showing that it was blood vessels related to radiation necrosis. Apparently radiation necrosis is scar tissue from RT that can appear up to 5 years after treatment.
Last Friday, I had another MRI to see if the dot disappeared.
It didn't. Which means that it could still be radiation necrosis. It could also be a random blood vessel. It could also be a tiny tumor trying to grow.
So on the 17th I do a special scan called a Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy which can analyze visually the chemicals in that area. The chemicals will tell whether it is normal brain tissue, tumor tissue or radiation necrosis.
Nervous, but confident up in here.
Sorry, I didn't post my good results from October. That MRI went well and everything was unchanged.
Next one is this Friday.
Had another MRI yesterday. The results were good. No change.
The MRI itself was on the tougher side because there was a delay and that pushed back my cognitive testing session and lunch. Plus I guess I "moved" during the scan so they had to redo some of it.
I rocked the cognitive testing session. I can still remember the list of 12 words I was asked to memorize. pot, pan, spatula, fork, rifle, pistol, bomb, sword, vodka, wine, bourbon, rum. They don't tell it to you in that order, you kind of have to sort the words into categories and memorize 3 shorter lists rather than 1 long one. The hardest part was the connect the dots. So imagine numbers 1-13 and letters A-M randomly placed on a sheet of paper. Each number and letter are encircled. Without lifting the pen I had to connect 1 to A to 2 to B to 3 to C and so forth. The hard part was that I couldn't lift my hand to see where the numbers and letters were better. I spent way too long looking for B.
Next MRI in July.
Once again, I am thankful for another change free MRI result. This doesn't get old and I still have a bit of anxiety beforehand. Next MRI is in March, 2013.
MRI results in...
All is good. :) No change.