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The CAT says...

     March 11th, 2004.     

     Off we go to the doc's office to find out what the CAT says!  Well, that's what we did yesterday.  Now, this is the kind of thing that really tests whether your glass is half full or half empty, as I'll demonstrate.

     I had another CAT scan last Friday, March 5th.  I've become somewhat a pro at them by now, and it's starting to show.  I wore my joggers, so there would be no metal to remove, and so I wouldn't have to change into a gown where my butt tries to show itself.  Hehehe!  I walked right in, hopped up on the table, lifted my legs so the triangular-shaped cushion could be placed with the point under my knees without being asked (it keeps me in place during the scan, and actually makes me much more comfortable).  Then I put my arms up over my head, and got ready to do some breathing exercises.  There was no hesitation needed as we went through the list of questions about what I might be allergic to, surgeries I've had, or why I was there.  The nurse remarked that if I could just reach the controls from there, she could take a break!  LOL!     

      So then we danced to CAT Scan Fever for awhile, with me holding my breath at the appropriate places and her slowly gyrating me in and out of the machine's donut hole.  Somewhere in the middle, she injected the radioactive isotopes to make me glow and, as usual, it warmed up my private area, and everything went just fine.  When it was over, I hopped off the table, promised to drink lots of fluids to rid myself of the radioactive kool-aid I'd been drinking, and was on my way, no fuss, no muss.

     Yesterday, I kept my appointment with the doc to find out what the CAT revealed.  He wanted to use it to confirm that my lymph nodes and that  'mass' in my abdomen (I think I need to give that thing a name, like "Marvin" or something) are getting smaller, now that we're half way through this chemo and Rituxan regimen.

     So, the nurse ushers us into one of the examination rooms, and we look at the art on the walls for awhile.  I'm not sure who the artists are, but there are two paintings in there from the impressionist period, and I quite like them.  Anyway, we wait a little while, and then the doc comes in, says hi and asks, "How ya doing?"  I say, "I was hoping you could tell me!" with a big smile.

     Then there was one of those long, awkward silences as he looked over the report in front of him on top of my thickening folder of medical information.  It was long enough for the smile to come off my face, and I began to think that maybe that's what he was waiting for, so that he could continue in a more serious vein.  (Get it?  Vein?  Doctor humor... hehehehe )

     Finally, he says... "Hmmm... This is strange..."  Mom offers, "he thinks you're strange - hehe" and we both chuckle nervously.  A bit more silence, and just about the time mom's ready to tackle him and see for herself what it says, and I think I'm going to have to buy the info like a detective trying to squeeze his informant, the doc says, "according to this, the mass and the lymph nodes aren't shrinking at all."  THUD.

     He starts to explain that he expected by now to see them shrinking, that this is the most effective known chemo regimen out there, and that it usually works well, and that he's a bit confused that they're not.  I nod throughout the explanation, having enough info that I know exactly what he's saying and agree with him.  He re-checks the folder to make sure he didn't count to three wrong, and sure enough, there are three treatments so far.

     He thinks we should do another treatment in the series, and see if things are just going slower than expected.  Meanwhile, he wants to do a PET Scan, which will look deeper at the problem than a CAT scan can.  Don't miss checking out this page on that site too.

     He asks how I feel, and I tell him fine.  I mean, I'm a bit more tired than usual, and occasionally nauseas from the chemo, but not too bad.  I feel good enough that I'm still working and stuff.  Put it this way - I don't FEEL like I'm getting any worse.

     I asked him what we'll do if I don't show signs of improvement soon, and he says that there are plenty of other chemo regimens we could try - different chemical combinations.  It brought to mind my studies on this a while back, when I learned that this type of cancer can and might evolve over time into forms that a particular kind of treatment may not be effective against.  Hey, what can I say?  I'm a walking, talking study in evolution! 

     With that, we headed for the front desk, where Delia sets up my new schedule:

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This Saturday, March 13th, a PET Scan at St. Rose Hospital.

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Next Wednesday, March 17th, a Rituxan treatment at the doc's office.

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The next day, March 18th, another chemo treatment at the doc's office.

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Wednesday, April 7th, another visit with the doc to see where we're at.

     In setting up my PET Scan, she found out they'd need me to bring my latest CAT Scans with me, so they can see what's going on and make comparisons and whatnot.  She arranged for me to pick them up down the street to take with me, and we headed over there to get them.  I signed some forms, got the package of pictures that look a lot like X-RAY film, and off we went.

     Of course, I couldn't resist having a look at the film when I got the chance, and it was very interesting!  Instead of one big picture of my chest or something on each, these have 15 pictures, each representing incremental slices of my body.  Here's a scan I made of one of the film sheets:

     There are 12 sheets of film, so that's 180 picture slices of me.

     Some of the individual pictures on them have a little red mark or circle.  I'm assuming it's Marvin:

     And here's a close-up of Marvin:

     So, here's where we test whether we're going to look at this glass as half empty or half full.  If I wanted to see the down side of it, I'd say that the treatments aren't working and I'm in deep doo-doo.  But I've got a better plan here.  I see it as it's not getting any worse, as far as we can tell, so we've got it in check, and will be kicking it's butt into submission soon.

     Other than that, nothing really new to report, except that one of my teeth is starting to get pretty sensitive, and I may have to see a dentist about that.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

     The next update should include details about the PET Scan, which is sure to be fun!  See you then!

     Next: PET Detective 
                                                            Buck