MRI Update 12/18/12
Skip down to Straight Talk if you’d rather just hear the meat of the matter. If you’ve got nothing better to do, I recount, below, the day’s excitement in pretentious detail because it makes me smile.
After my MRI yesterday morning here in Atlanta, Tina and I flew to Durham, NC (for an appointment at Duke the next day). We played — pretending we were getting away for a romantic vacation. We flew for free due to the generosity of Southwest airlines, but we had to go to Orlando, FL first. (I know — it doesn’t make any sense (traveling 950 miles to go someplace 350 miles away) but those are the facts.)
Once in Durham, we ate wonderful tapas at a hole-in-the-wall Italian/French/Spanish/Peruvian cafe (Meelo’s Restaurant). We declined dessert because we avoid sugar now. José poured us a complimentary Limoncello. The illusion of an exotic vacation was working. Then, we bedded down in the Quality Inn.
In the morning, we breakfasted with the other guests of our all-inclusive accommodations. I loosened my dietary reins and ate a waffle doused in syrup. I didn’t give the ingredients a second thought. That was a damn good waffle.
Then the hotel fire alarm blared for a minute. Hotel staff scurried about, clearly not expecting a fire drill. But none of the twenty or so guests seemed to even notice it. I got up and looked around. If a fire alarm is a-blaring, seems like a good idea to take heed. Finally, I overheard a manager tell someone it was a false alarm. Yet, no announcement was made to the dining crowd. It all seems a bit David Lynch to me. That ended Vacation.
After clinic check-in, blood draw, clean-catch urine sample and a very long wait, we were finally seen by my neuro-oncologist. I think Katy is a fantastic doctor and wonderful person. She delivered the news with an alarming directness.
There has been considerable and concerning tumor growth and a lot of bleeding.
“What do we do?” I ask.
Get control or succumb.
This news froze me. Katy faced me closely, looking hard into my eyes. My silence worried her. Usually I would be bombarding her with many suggestions for and questions about my treatment. But she snapped me out of the stillness and we talked. She was surprised that I had not been symptomatic, that is, had a seizure. It’s time for a new plan and there’s no time to waste.
Tina was wrecked — in no condition to drive us to the airport. I was my usual calm, collected self. I switched my focus to not having a seizure while driving to the airport really fast (and safe).
To get back home on these free Southwest medical passes, we were going to have to fly from Durham, NC to Nashville, TN to Houston, TX and finally on to Atlanta. That’s insane and wouldn’t put us home until almost midnight and it was only 2:00 pm. So we dashed over to an AirTran gate that was about to depart for a direct flight to Atlanta. The wonderful gate agent, Therese, defied the captain and held the plane for us. We paid full fare but sometimes getting home is priceless. Our good friends, B & D, retrieved us from the airport with only a moment’s notice. Tina called AirTran to discuss the airport situation and commend the great service. They comped us tickets for our next flight.
We attracted a lot of good fortune today despite the bad news. I sit here writing and recounting the day without a worry. Odds may be against me but it just doesn’t feel like my time. I hope Tina is having pleasant dreams. It’s so difficult being the caregiver. (Or at least, “being MY caregiver?” I’m quite difficult.)
MRIs are done about every two months. The tumor grew about 2 cm since my previous MRI. Before that it had shrunk about 25 percent. Chemo is effective. But the cancer seems to adapt to treatment. There are other chemo options available. Most likely I will trade in Avastin and Irinotecan for Temodar and Vorinostat. The side-effects of these drugs will be every bit as unpleasant as that of my previous regimen. But they are taken orally rather than by IV infusion. That’s a good thing.