“Surprisingly Smaller”

Yesterday was my first MRI since July and the first one since my 6 weeks of daily radiation.

The radiation or “brain bake” is now over thankfully.  By the way, it was very fun going with all my different friends that took the time out of their busy days to give me a ride up the the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  What I was dreading all along turned out to be one of the highlights of my day.  Thanks guys!  (except for the 8 minutes of being strapped to the table… we’ll just forget that part.  Or when Adam came and distracted the radiation techs with all his questions that they nearly forgot about me being strapped down in the next room.  Surrounded in darkness, walls closing in, not able to breathe… yeah, we’ll forget that part too).

All in all, it turned out to be a lot of fun.  I got to be good buddies with the other patients and as we compared notes, scared the “new” guys, and fought over the remote control in the waiting room.

At last the 6 weeks was over.  I lost half a head of hair and have saved a lot in hair gel.  Interestingly enough, my daily seizures stopped shortly into my treatments.  No one knows exactly why, but we’ll take the extra blessing.

Going into the treatments my Radiologist said they hoped they would see no growth on the next MRI and it would be surprising if it would actually be smaller.

Back to the MRI yesterday…

For some reason they scheduled my MRI at their Daybreak satellite location.  I’m not sure why but it’s closer to my house so we figured why not give it a go.  We were met by 2 friendly door greeters that I guess were overqualified to work at Wal-Mart.  One of them walked us over to the MRI department.

Since my COBRA expired I had to show the receptionist my shiny new medicare card (being on medicare is not a proud moment for me but ah well… what’s a guy to do?)

When the receptionist told me, “ok that’ll be a $250 co-pay” I about pooped my pants.  “Holy cow lady, I don’t want to buy the thing, just get a scan!”

“Well it’s very expensive”, she told me.  I handed over my debit card and apparently she didn’t have a little swiper deal and the lady that had one was out at the moment.  “Well that’s too bad for you!” I thought.

I went in for the MRI anyway because they were pressed for time.  Suddenly my confidence in their high tech MRI machine dropped since they didn’t even have a credit card swiper.

After the MRI was over, Jamie and I skipped out of there so fast they couldn’t catch us for the $250 co-pay.  It kind of felt like skipping out on the check after a nice meal (not that I would ever do that!)

So anyway… I’m getting tired of typing at his point… My goodness…

Later that day we had to meet with my Oncologist so he could review the MRI with us.  The nurse took us right back to the room, loaded up my scans on the computer and then said my Oncologist is running “a little” behind, “he’s triple booked today”.

Holy FREAK!!  Why not just shoot me in my half balded head and put me out of my misery!  I can’t stand waiting around like that!

Of course as soon as she shuts the door I immediately jump on the computer to look for my scans.  Jamie does her typical protesting the whole time thinking I’m going to get “caught”.

What are they going to do?  Radiate my head some more?  Been there, done that…

When I find my scans and pull up the one from July and compare it to the one from yesterday (Sep 16th) and I see a big difference.  The tumor is still there but it looks a lot smaller.

Now I’m no expert in reading MRI but as soon as I get off the computer the dr’s assistant walks in.  Jamie gives me a look that says, “you were almost so busted!”  Yeah right.

He walks us through the scans and sure enough it’s significantly smaller.  Well, that’s super cool news and we briefly talk about next steps with chemo and such.  He says our dr will have more info about that so we should continue to wait for him.

minecraftHe leaves and I jump back on the computer.  No Solitaire, no Tetris, no Plants vs Zombies, no Minecraft.  I don’t know what Minecraft is but my kids say it’s way fun.  Jamie begs me to get off their computer and tells me to play Temple Run on her phone.  Hmm… tempting, after one game and getting eaten by a giant monkey thing I turn it off.

This time I start pacing around the room.  If I had any hair left I would have pulled it out!  I hate waiting!  After an HOUR+, the doc’s assistant walks back in.  He asks, “the doctor still hasn’t seen you yet?”  Uh no, I tell him, “What if we just leave and come back some other time?”

“You guys want to leave?” Like the idea was so foreign to him that people would want to ever leave before seeing the doctor.  “Yes, we’ve seen the scans, I’m sure a quick phone call when he has time can take care of the rest.”

He tells us to wait a little longer and he’ll track the doctor down for us.  He finds the doctor playing Minecraft in the break room… (just kidding). But after about 10 minutes our doctor walks in.

He walks us through the scans with a little more authority than his assistant.  Sure enough, the tumor is “surprisingly smaller”.  Then launches into the chemotherapy part.  “Well what if we decide to wait on that?”, I ask.  His eyes got big, Jamie’s jaw dropped, I hear someone playing Minecraft in the distance.

After he regains his composure he says that studies have shown the mortality rates are much better for people that follow up radiation with PCV chemo right away.  OK, fine and I agree to go on with the chemo.

They want me to do 6 cycles, each cycle is 6 weeks.  That’s 36 weeks for all you math challenged people at home.  He says “6” cycles is ideal but most people can’t handle that many.  They have too much fatigue, nausea, white blood cell count gets too low, diarrhea, and a whole host of other pleasantries.

The treatment is made up of 3 types of chemo, PCV.  I can’t pronounce any of them.   2 are pills and 1 is an injection.  I take one pill on like day nine, then a series of pills for around 6 days, somewhere in there they stick me with a needle.  It’s all very confusing and I quit paying attention.

Fortunately Jamie was taking good notes and got the part where they’ll make up a calendar for me.  As long as it’s color coded I should be good.

So now the ball is in their court.  They are making sure that they have all the meds in stock, apparently some are in short supply right now.  And they are trying to make them available to me cheap enough so I don’t have to sell my first born child.  Sorry Bryndie, that would really suck but we’d do our best to make sure you found a good home… Think “Cinderella”.

So that’s it.  Now you know as much as I do…


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7 Responses to “Surprisingly Smaller”

  1. Judy Vader says:

    News seems to get a little better with each visit. Not the news that the tumor is gone but it is shrinking and that is something to be thankful for…..we pray and hope that you continue to progress through all of this mess………

  2. Oh, Ryan, phooey on a book……you need to go on TV! too funny. Love you dearly and am so happy with this news!!

  3. Lynette soberly says:

    So happy you finally got some good news. I was just doing neurology homework and decided to check up on how you were doing. Let me know if you want more info on your drugs. I am studying them now. I think I had a neurological deficit when I decided to go to nursing school!!!! I am so glad you are improving and aren’t having the seizures. I am so proud of Jamie for all of her love and support that she gives you. Stay positive, attitude makes a big difference in your outcome.

  4. Lynette Donnelly says:

    I just love what auto spell did to my last name. I guess they think I need a drink!!

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