Thumbs up! But, you know, somberly. Contemplatively. In the Dutch 17th century style. By candlelight.
Today I had an MRI, waited a scant hour, and then was ushered in to see Dr K, the neurosurgeon, for results.
By contrast, in the past week I was reading another metastatic melanoma blog, this one from outside the US. The blogger was expressing frustration about getting her test results, which would not be available until A MONTH AFTER THE TEST.
If nothing else, living this experience has made me aware of how crucial timing is in the treatment of this disease. My tumors were discovered in April, and I began drug therapy right away. Even a month later, before surgery, there was progress.
One may have one’s feelings about the way health care works (or doesn’t) in this country, but my heart cries out that a person in the same boat as me – almost exactly the same boat, as it happens – has to wait that long to get crucial information and be able to act on it if need be.
I feel very lucky indeed that I didn’t have to wait for the good news today. J met me at the hospital, and I was already in a good mood even before seeing the doctor. I’d survived another trip in the dark, noisy MRI tunnel, after all, and felt giddy that I was done with it.
Dr K’s nurse practitioner came in first and began scrolling through the images from today, comparing them with July and April. I’m sure she and Dr K know exactly what they’re doing, but seeing them scroll through images of my brain – MY brain, with which you’d think I’d be more familiar, except who spends time examining images of their own brain? – I realized I’d never be able to actually do what they do. Comparing small blotch to smaller blotch, but seeing other blotches and knowing those are perfectly fine, just some plaque built up since I haven’t played enough Scrabble or done any calculus, perhaps.
The NP left the room telling us that things were 90% positive, but she couldn’t give me the all-clear. Dr K got to do that – almost every spot treated in June has shrunk, some looking now like just shadows on the image.
Except… there was one small surprise: a spot in my brain that had been seen before, had been zapped with gamma rays, and is actively bleeding right now. And this is normal. According to Dr K, this is seen frequently with melanoma – tumors bleeding before they die. So I have an active brain bleed, but it’s not in a spot that will affect anything, and he’s officially not worried about it, so neither am I. He actually said he was surprised not to see other tumors in this state.
I’m… intrigued, I guess, that I’m walking around like this, and that the MRI may have caught a tumor in the process of dying.
In the meantime, I’m halving my dose of the reviled anti-seizure medication, will stop taking it by next week, and am now free to drive.
Which means all systems are go for my writing retreat in October. The one where I’m going to finish ALL THE WORK.
But first, a nap.