Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A day at the hospital

I didn’t sleep much last night.  Though I was exhausted.  And drained.  I took pain meds before bed, but they wore off, and I was wakened by pain just after 4am.  And then my brain started racing about all the things I had experienced the day before.  And I was up until after 7.  I did get another couple of hours of sleep.  DP (bless him) took pity on me and my sleepless night and got up with the kids and started breakfast.

Tuesday, the big day, started very early.  We were up at 530, so we could leave by 6.  It was like we were going on vacation to Turcs and Caicos again.  Except totally not as much fun.  But the same sneaking around the house quietly in the dark thing.

We were hoping than the 3 hours that we left for getting there would allow us to take our car all the way in.  Alas, the traffic was working against us, so we took the subway in.  It was crowded.  With people.  Standing really close to me.  Shudder.

We find the hospital, and find Dr. W’s office, where we are greeted by a soft spoken man who works for the doctor.  He gets my information and my MRI disk and my Xray disk.  And hands me some paperwork to fill out before meeting with Dr. W.

So we sit in a row of chairs.  With signs for “Orthopedic Oncology” all around.  Pictures of tumors on the wall.  Success Rates posted.

I find this terribly funny.  I mean, I know why we are here.  I know what Dr. W does.  But what if you didn’t?  That would be quite the shock.

We are taken into a room by a medical student who takes my history.  She can’t find the lump on my leg, but I could certainly feel her touching it.

We then wait some more.  I get worried, as we were supposed to have my appointment with Dr. W at 9, then another appointment at 1030.  It is 1025, and  I still haven’t met the doctor.  I go to talk to the soft-spoken man, who tells me he has already changed my appointment and I will go later on.  Perfect.  That 1030 appointment was supposed to be a pre-op appointment.  For an operation that the doctor hasn’t told me about yet.  A little awkward.

Dr. W comes in.  He seems kind and friendly, and gets right to it.  He starts with “So – what do you know?” I tell him that we are here to find out if I have a bone infection, or if I have cancer.  He says okay, and goes on with the appointment.  He can feel the sore spot right away, guessing it from the MRI he says, but he can feel the swelling as well.

He can’t tell me for sure if I have cancer.  He tells me I probably have cancer.  And that the only way he can know for sure is to do a biopsy.  They will culture some, in case it is an infection, but some will go to pathology to determine the type of cancer. His vibe is that he would be surprised if it was an infection.  So there goes the hope that he tells me he was the wrong doctor for me.

It is likely osteosarcoma, lymphoma of the bone or Ewings sarcoma.

Regardless of the type, I’m looking at chemo and surgery.

But he says the following:

“You will be cured of this”.

I ask him if he will connect me with an oncologist.  He smiles and says that he is an oncologist.  Cancer in the bones is all he does.

That hits me pretty hard.  All he does is bone cancer.  And he says I probably have cancer.

Translation:  It is very likely that I have cancer.  Way more likely than not.  Way more.  It is as good as a given.

However, he feels very strongly that it will be very treatable.  It is still contained in the bone, there was only a small amount of bone growth, not a big lumpy tumour outside of the bone.

The rest of the day filled up quickly.  Much of the testing was to help with staging.  They need to know if the cancer has spread.  I had Xrays of my lungs (bone cancer likes to spread to the lungs), and of my shoulder and elbow (I’ve been having pain there, likely unrelated to the cancer, but better to have it checked out).  They also wanted new ones of my leg.  I will also be having another MRI and a CT scan.

As an extra treat – I had a bone scan.  This is a super cool thing.  You get radioactive isotopes injected into your vein.  Then you wait 2 hours. (We went for lunch)  The isotopes collect in your bones.  And they REALLY collect in “hot spots” in your bones.  These spots can indicate areas of extraordinary cell growth.  Cancer.

I got to see part of my scan – and my right leg was BRIGHT WHITE.  Glowing.  From just below my knee to about half way down my shin.  Bright white.

The only other hot spots that I could see were my bladder and kidneys.  The isotopes like urine too!  There is nothing wrong my bladder and kidneys.  I was just working out my coffee and waters from lunch.

Now – I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but the fact that there were no other big giant bright white areas made me SO HAPPY.  Hoping that Dr. W also finds no other bright white spots.

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