8-month Check Up, Scans, & PT

I had my 8-month check up on December 13th with scans, brain MRI and CT scan of my chest and abdomen. Blood levels are normal for the 3rd month in a row! Woohoo!

Anyway, scan check-in was at 6:30 in the morning. The weather was great this month, so I made it to the hospital without having to worry about the roads or traffic that early. I got the best IV that day. Man, it was a good one! My big vein in my left arm has recovered enough since my hospital stay to tolerate getting tapped into again without my nerve freaking out. Blood draw was amazingly easy. It helped that I had made sure to drink enough water the day before. Scans were easy. I know what to expect. Also, not having to do a back MRI ever again makes it easier to tolerate lying still for my brain scan. I just breathe and pretend I’m getting a very noisy spa treatment, especially when the table shakes too.

Since scans were before the sun came up, I finished with plenty of time to get breakfast. šŸ˜€ You know I love the hospital’s pancakes. They had a French Toast special that day that came with eggs and meat. Hello, bacon! I heard you call my name. ā¤ It was a big meal. I ate it all and had a latte on the side.

I had about 4 hours before my oncology appointment, so I found a cozy spot with a big bench and spread out with my planner and laptop and got some work done. A choir of young men set up in different parts of the hospital to serenade us with Christmas songs. Gorgeous to the ears!

Had my labs drawn at 1 and I went to get some lunch: tortellini salad with salami. I got something else that was kind of healthy too. Still had my cardiology oncologist’s words in my head about eating more greens. My digestive tract still disagrees with her advice when I take it. I will stick to apples and potatoes and anything that doesn’t give me the runs, thank you very much.

My oncologist said in my appointment that he had looked at my MRI and didn’t see much difference from the last one in September. My cancer antigen marker went down even more from 1.9 to 1.6. Ba-bam! CT scan showed that tumors are still decreasing slightly. I mean slight, like 3/10ths of a centimeter. It’s still improvement, so yay! Cancer is still in my bones with no change. Woof. That one’s tough. Stable though, so I will still celebrate that.

We talked about the pain clinic visit and physical therapy. I expressed my hesitation to get a spinal nerve block and that physical therapy seemed to be helping, even though it’s slow and mostly some very intense massage. I think I had been to 3 sessions then.

I have a trip planned soon and wanted to know if I needed to take any special precaution. Not really, he said. Basic stuff like keep my hands clean and don’t touch my face. Done and done!

I have also been suffering from a rash on my leg, so I asked about that. He prescribed me an anti-fungal plus steroid cream to treat it. It’s still a mystery rash that isn’t getting better. Bleh. My toe is also infected as a side effect from my chemo pill. Nail beds are super sensitive and when my shoe rubs on it, I get a blister that bursts. It’s happened before and cleared up on its own, usually in a couple of weeks. This time, it’s taking forever. It’s been since before Thanksgiving! I do hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin with a bandage twice a day. I have some time off now, so I’m hoping that it will really improve because I plan to wear flip-flops for the next two weeks. Yep, even in the snow.

Physical therapy is going well. I go twice a week for who knows how long. Sometimes I get to do exercises. Mostly I get intense massages in my neck and upper back. OMG, it hurts so good. He’s also working my leg to help it recover too. My glute is sore the next day every time. I have to stretch every day. We got a stationary, spinning-type bike at home, and I ride it a couple times a week for as long as I can tolerate it. It tires out my everything that hurts, back especially, so I can ride for about 14 minutes right now at an easy resistance. It targets the right glute that is so weak from surgery, has no impact, and stable handlebars to grip, so I don’t fear falling off. Don’t want to break any more bones!

After my scans, I learned why the techs tell you to drink lots of water to flush out the contrast. I didn’t drink nearly enough water that Friday, and I felt like crap that night and the next day. I had chest pains, my back ached, my head hurt, and I started my Saturday lying down on the couch downstairs and watching Netflix. I know you’re saying, “Jennifer, that’s how I start every Saturday.” Yeah, ok for you, but I don’t do that (not judging) and that’s how I know when I don’t feel good. I took painkillers all day, which make me cry at everything, and carried on. I had stuff to do and friends coming over that night, sheets to wash since Husband had recovered from strep throat, and Christmas shopping to finish. Not much stops me. It’s not often an option in my head.

The next day, as we cuddled on the couch with coffee, my sweet, sweet husband told me that he would have taken care of everything. I cried. (Thanks, painkillers.) I told him I would take him up on that next time I felt yucky. Being a full-time, single mom for so long, I just keep going. I was literally dying last March with my pericardial effusion (fluid around my heart) and still going to Costco and mopping floors and going for really slow walks. Ok, so I’ll keep this in check, especially since I have a partner now who kicks butt and supports me/us. Okay, well, tearing up now with gratitude for him, for marrying my bestie. He seriously is awesome!

Everything’s going well. I still feel really good and am amazed and thankful for modern medicine! Next appointment is on January 10th.

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