I arrived for my appointment at 7:30am, having had nothing to eat or drink since the previous night. First, I was given a barium-sulfate “smoothie” to gulp down within 15 minutes (if you see this on the menu at Dairy Queen, don’t order it). Next, a sweet little nurse stabbed my right arm several times trying to place the IV for dye infusion. After an hour’s wait, I was taken to the scan room. The technician gave me scary pink koolaid to drink. (“The barium was for your intestines, THIS is for your stomach.”) In this age of medical miracles, couldn’t they create a DELICIOUS tasting fluid–modeled upon, perhaps, a nice Lafite ’82? OK, nasty pink stuff ingested, I’m finally on the scanner. After a test proved the IV placement was faulty, they ushered in the same little nurse to place another IV, this time in my left arm. Now I had an IV dangling from each arm. Gotta say, I’ve never been big on symmetry. Another infusion test was run. Oops, the IV was now leaking iodine. After an adjustment, it was determined the infusion device on the scanner was broken. A quick move to an adjacent scan room, some minor adjustments to reduce the leaking, and I was all set.
They released me a little after 10am. The actual CT scan took less than 3 minutes.
My take-away from all that? Sometimes, getting the results we’d hoped for takes longer than anticipated.
This morning, my radiation oncologist told me that Monday’s CT scans show a reduction of 15% to the primary tumor, and “some” improvement to the tumor in my middle lobe. These are not the results I had hoped for, which were more along the line of, “Hey! The cancer has completely disappeared and you’re N.E.D (no evidence of disease).” Not this time.
Luckily, my doctor has had a Plan B in mind from the beginning. He recommends undergoing localized radiation to further reduce the secondary tumor, since that’s the one that giving me the most discomfort. The initial, exploratory bronchoscopy is already scheduled for next Thursday morning. If they find disease is still present in the bronchus, in a few weeks a radioactive piece of metal will be placed in the airway next to the tumor via bronchoscopy. My doctor says they’ve had good response applying this treatment to this type of tumor.
What I am not looking forward to: due to the complex nature of the prescribed procedure, they’re going to see whether I can tolerate a bronchoscopy done without general anesthesia. This means they’d numb my nasal passage and throat with lydocaine, and will “explore” NOT knocking me out for the procedure. I don’t know how you all feel about having a tube shoved up your nose all the way to your lung, but this girl is not a fan. However, I’ll give it my best shot and try not to knock the poor doctor across the room. (Sorry, Doctor; un-sedated redheads can be dangerous in the O.R.!)
So, another procedure to look forward to. If it works, it’ll be worth it. If not…we’ll try something else.
If at first you don’t succeed…