We recently went back in to the Huntsman to undergo an entire day of tests and exams.They started out by getting an IV going first thing in the morning. They took some blood labs and then sent me off for my MRI. Because of their scheduling I had to walk down to the University Hospital to have the scan done. When I got there I ended up waiting for over an hour beyond the scheduled time for me to get in. Luckily I had already had an IV started and left in so they didn't have to stick me again for the contrast solution they gave me during the scan. Once they got me in I had a Cervical spine and Thoracic spine scan. A single scan takes forever but having both done sequentially was an eternity. After laying in the "tube"(on an unpadded board) for over an hour and a half, my backside was dead asleep, and my arms had gone in and out of that tingling feeling, and my body was aching. The only positive thing about it was I got to listen to an hour and a half of "The Dave Matthews Band" on the head set.
I of course was behind schedule for my appointment with Dr. Schmidt, my neurosurgeon, when I got up there they had me fill out the paper work and got me in for X-rays. At this time Amy had come up to meet me in the Neurosciences building. X-rays were uneventful as usual, however I always enjoy meeting with the Technician. His Name is Ralph. He is so easy to talk to and makes the whole experience rather fun. The best way to describe him is, he is a fun loving, graying, ponytailed, mustache wearing hippy. I have the highest regard for this guy, He is so knowledgeable and loves to tell you stories about how the X-ray business has evolved. He has been doing this for decades. He started his career out as an X-ray tech in the Army. Anyways I guess he recently had gotten an offer to work somewhere else much closer to his home so he won't be there for my next X-rays. Bummer. I'll miss him.
The visit with Dr. Schmidt went well and because the scans had just been done, and the final report had not been submitted to the system, he didn't have anything revealing he could tell us. The X-rays looked good and we were in and out before we knew it.
While we were in the office with Dr. Schmidt and were looking at the scans on the screen, I tried to see if there was anything blatantly wrong. I am not a radiology tech but I have seen enough of my own scans to know kind of what my spine should look like. Other than what he explained to be scar tissue, to my untrained eye things looked OK. I was however still very nervous. There are the smallest things that could be present that could come back as being more tumor forming. Only the Final report would be able to tell us the real story. We just had to wait.
After the visit with Dr. Schmidt we drove over to the Research park, where they have another Scan center. Because we were trying to fit all of this in one day, they had us running everywhere due to scheduling. I had a CT scan scheduled that wasn't supposed to take very long. We ended up waiting in the lobby longer than it took for me to have the scan. About 20 mins. waiting and about 2 mins for the scan. I sure wish they could advance MRI scan technology to where it would take minutes for the scan instead of hours. Oh well, maybe one day.
We headed over to a small bakery/deli on the corner for some late lunch and Amy sat and talked for a while. I was still anxious and she seemed to be as calm as she has ever been. The Lord seems to have blessed me with such a wonderful wife, we balance each other so well. When I am freaking out she seems to be calm and when she freaks out (she never does) I am calm and relaxed. It sure makes things like this more manageable. At least one of us always has our head on straight.
We spoke of all the things we had been through in the last two years, and how if they did find something again , we would handle it. She reminded me that the Lord would take care of us. He has always been there for us and would continue to be.
The time had come for us to go and visit with my Medical Oncologist. My heart was racing. Inside I knew something was wrong, I was having all sorts of aches and pains over the last few weeks. I was trying to prepare myself for the worst. I was trying to think of where I would get the energy and willpower to go through more surgery or chemo. I knew we could do it, I just didn't know how. I was tired of it all, we had come so far, I wanted to get back to some sort of "normalcy" what ever that meant.
I had been praying more frequently than in the past, I found myself pleading, and at times almost begging to receive good news and good health. It is funny how when things go bad for us we seem to pray more often, and when life is great it gets put on the back burner and we tend to forget to pray always. All of this has given me perspective on how I need to pray. I find myself having more meaningful prayers, I pray with more gratitude, and I thank the Lord for the health that I DO have. I thank the Lord for each day I am here. I especially thank Him for My Family.
We went in and waited for the Oncologist team to come in and give us the news. I sat there with thoughts racing through my head...was it going to be all good, or would we have to get ready for harder times ahead? I felt my heart almost skip a beat when the door suddenly opened. They came in and chatted with us about how I was feeling and how things were going. They then gave me the news I needed to hear.
No visible changes, no new growth!!
I was in shock. I almost wanted to ask the Docs if they were sure. I was overwhelmed. I broke down into tears. I was so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this wonderful gift. Christmas would be so great this year! The issues that I have been noticing are due to extensive amounts of scar tissue, 2 surgeries and 30 treatments of Radiation seem to create lots of it. Some good physical therapy should help relieve the symptoms I am feeling.
The Team then spoke to me about possibly doing some new preventative measures. There is a new treatment that they have been giving to patients with osteoporosis that is meant to help the bones become more dense and harder. This has proven successful in patients with bone cancers. It almost makes it harder for the cancer to take root. They used the analogy of changing the soil for a seed. If you change the composition of the soil the seed has a harder time growing. It is a 15 minute infusion that I will probably do on my next appointment. They said that side effects might include fatigue for a few days, some minor body aches and that was about it. If this will help to give me better chances of keeping the cancer from growing again, then I'm all for it.
Man I am so grateful to be doing as good as I am. There were times where I really wondered if this might be the thing that would take me from this world. I spent lots of time thinking about death, I know its not healthy to do that, but it seemed to be a constant stone around my shoulders. I tried so hard to be positive. It is difficult to have faith that all will be well when you are physically feeling otherwise. I had to rely on Amy's faith at times. She knew that things would be OK, and they were.
I have learned that faith and the proper actions can bring about miracles!