Thursday, April 15, 2010

Early Results versus Final Results

I'll tell ya, there is almost no traffic on highway 40 at 5:30AM. Lou and I practically flew up to Durham for my 6:30AM checkin for the MRI. Jane (our GPS) got us to the Lenox Baker Children's hospital with no trouble.

It was still dark, but I saw signs that said "MRI" and pointed off to the left. We followed the signs to what turned out to be a stockade fence surrounding six or seven of those big medical trailers that each houses its own MRI machine. We headed over to the gate marked "MRI Registration" but it was locked! I peered through the wooden slats and could see a walkway leading to another trailer in the back. I had to assume that we were in the right place.

We stood around for 15 minutes. Right at 6:30AM, another car came into the parking lot. It was a lady with the key to the gate. She let us in and let us hang in the waiting room while she opened up the office.

It would have been nice if the Duke computer that told me to check in at 6:30AM had mentioned that the office would not open till 6:30AM. Maybe I would not have gone 80MPH if I knew we would have to stand around in the dark parking lot listening to birds (which was actually quite pleasant).

The scan itself went really well. My scan guy was funny and personable. There were a lost of scans, and then they gave me contrast through my fabulous Bard Power Port, and then more scans followed. I am glad I am not claustrophobic because I was squished in the MRI tube for awhile.

Lou and I drove over to the Duke Clinics and got coffee at the Seattle's Best in the food court. There were Tim's Cascade potato chips for sale! We didn't buy any. It was just so cool to see them. We have not seen them since we left Seattle.

We saw Dr Reidel at about 9:30AM, and he had only the most preliminary of results to give me. First, though, he wanted to hear why we had this scan, so I told him about how Dr Morris was insistent that I get a scan to see why part of my leg is numb.

The early results were that the tumor in the psoas looks exactly the same as it did in mid-October. Yahoo!

The final results would probably not be available till Thursday, and Dr R has a whopping 32 patients to see on Thursday, so I was not going to get the results till Friday. That was cool with me. I felt bad for him, having to see 32 people in one day (his usual is 20 to 22 max). He was really funny, saying that everyone would be mad at him because he was going to be way behind schedule and have little time to spend with each person.

Lou and I left feeling pretty good. I am totally okay with the idea that there is some nerve damage from the radiation, because that is so much nicer than hearing that the tumor grew or the bone started to fragment or something equally horrible.

I dropped Lou at home, and I went to the office.

Late in the afternoon, I was making good progress on a tricky problem at work when my phone rang. It was Dr R calling with the final results. I took notes. There is nothing horrendous, but it is not all good news.

  • The tumor in the psoas is indeed the same size. That is great news.

  • The psoas muscle on the left is much smaller. That is not so great news.

  • Something (I think the shrunken psoas) has narrowed the exit of the nerve, which probably means the nerve is being compressed, and which is probably causing the numb area on my leg. That is okay news.

  • I do not have one bulging disc -- I have three bulging discs. That's probably causing my lower back discomfort. 

  • The lesion on L5 is the same size as it was in mid-October. Are you thinking, "What lesion on L5?!" That is exactly what I was thinking. Apparently there is a small lesion on L5 that was there in mid-October. I don't remember hearing about it. Dr R did not remember hearing about it either. Darn, I guess my tumor count is nine, not eight.

  • There is a new 9 millimeter lesion on the right ilium bone (see illustration below). The lesion is non-enhancing (did not glow from contrast like the tumor in the psoas). No one knows what this thing is. Dr R is going to present it to a group of musculoskeletal specialists at a conference on Tuesday and see what they think. I might need a bone scan, which is no big deal. If it does not glow on the bone scan, then we can ignore it.

I will be waiting to hear what the conference on Tuesday thinks.

And I think that I will try physical therapy again. It "failed" last time because we were trying to make the numbness go way. I think our new goals will be to beef up the psoas muscle and un-bulge the three discs.

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