Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's!

Getting ready for a new year and new happenings, positive ones! With the holidays, it’s been slow and tedious getting dr appts and speaking with anyone, but here’s what has gotten done so far. We got my PET scan results to Dr. Horowitz with Winship at Emory, but when I spoke with his assistant the next day, she said that wasn’t what they needed. Ugh! They need the original biopsy result. So we’ll have to wait until next week to get copies of that. Dr. H is thinking that the bone lesions might be a different kind of cancer. He says it’s rare for ovarian cancer to metastasize to the bone and he asked if I’d ever had a bone biopsy. I said no, we all just assumed it was the ovarian cancer. So I think he’s going to want to do a bone biopsy. If it does turn out to be a different cancer, then that could determine what kind of treatment I need. So far the radiation has been working, but there might be another kind of chemo that would do better. When I went to the radiation dr as planned to get set up for rads to the bone spots, I mentioned this suspicion of Dr. H’s to the rad dr, Dr. Levitt. He agreed that with the possibility. So he’s going to start treating the neck and shoulder and save the lower back (I don’t think I mentioned that spot earlier) until after the biopsy.

Now for the rad appt . . . since I will be getting radiation to my spine in my neck, it is imperative that I not move my head at all. And the way they do this is to place a hard plastic mesh mask over your face and bolt it to the table. Now, if you have problems with MRI and claustrophobia like I have, this procedure is a zillion times worse. First the plastic mesh starts out soft and warm and wet. It takes about 10 minutes for it to harden. But it has to be the exact mold of your face, so to begin they stretch it down hard over your face and bolt it to the table until it hardens. You can open your eyes and breathe through it because it is mesh after all, but it was so tight, my eyelids wouldn’t open all the way and I couldn’t move my lips at all. I knew the panic was coming. Before it got completely solid, I let the techs know that I was freaking out and asked how long it would take. They said about ten minutes. Bless them, they really worked as fast as they could. But after it hardened, I had to have a CT scan to target the spot for treatment. So as I lay there, locked down to the table with a Hannibal Lecter type face mask, I began going in and out of the CT scanner, which is essentially an MRI tube . . . AHHHHHH!!! I began trying to control my breathing, but every time I exhaled I made some kind of vocalization. It began with a light moan, but escalated to a wail, then to a loud cry. I couldn’t speak, but I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer the best I could and that calmed me down a little. Finally, the tech rushed in and unbolted me. I can’t believe I made it through. But I kept telling myself, I had to get this done and over with. I didn’t have a choice. God gave me the strength and control I needed, thank you, Lord!

Here's a video of the mask-fitting process

So, now I will start treatments next Wednesday. I will have 15 days of treatment to my neck, so that means 15 more battles with the mask. I plan to take some medicine to calm me beforehand and the treatments won’t last as long as the mask fitting and CT scan did. I think I can do it. But I would still appreciate prayers of mental strength and control to get me through it.

Also, I will begin a new chemo on Wednesday right after the rad treatment. This one is Topotecan and has basically the same side effects as all the others – nausea, fatigue, general malaise, etc. The plan is for this chemo to zap the lung areas. I will still see Dr. Horowitz at some point once he reviews my original biopsy. It’s not that I don’t trust Dr. Salmieri anymore. I’m just ready to look at this whole thing with fresh eyes. MD Anderson is still not out of the question, either.

Well, I hope everyone has a great New Year’s Eve tonight and a Happy New Year’s Day tomorrow!


DJ said...

I am praying for a year of renewed health and hope for you and your family! I'm encouraged by the rapid action being taken, in spite of the slowness of the holiday. We continue to have you at the top of our prayer list every morning and every evening when we get on our knees and go to God. We also lift up prayers for you throughout our days. You are always at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers. God is going to get you through this mask thing...I can't even imagine, since I, too, am so claustrophobic. I'll especially be praying about that. I think I'd have to just take something to put me out, not just calm me down. Know our love and hearts are with you always.
Ed and Debra Johnson

Dana B. said...

Good grief, just watching that video gave me a feeling of panic and smothering! God was with you for sure, or I'm not sure you would've made it through the mesh procedure. We'll pray for the ones to come. Thank you for all your updates, Melinda. You have so many praying for you throughout all of this. Happy new year to your family.

Haley D. said...

You can do it!!!! We continue to pray for you, your family, and your medical team. You are a fighter and you can do it!

Susan said...

All I can say is "You are One Heck of a Gal"!!!! I'm also claustophobic and I don't think I would've made it through it. When I get in those situations I start singing "Amazing Grace". Especially when it involves the head.God Bless you!!!
I will continue to send prayers your way and ask others to also.
May God Bless You and your lovely family. Hang in there! Love, Susan

Ali Sprouse said...

Your descriptions of what you have been going through are so well written, I felt like I was in the room with you while reading about the mask. That would be absolutely scary and agitating! It sounds like the first was the hardest, so I know you can get through the next round of treatments. At least you know there is a set number to count down. I think the meds for relaxation before treatment is a good idea! Just know that I think of you every day and I have faith in your strength! You are tough, after all, you are Miss NGC! You can get through this too!

Martha said...

I just read your blog, as usual Congrats on being beyond one brave Lady.

I had a mask too ...I sang to myself ( which within its self is scary!!) but anyway .. I sang Amazing Grace and then after so many treatments , I looked at pictures of my grandkids then when THE MASK was snapped down I sang " You are my sunshine ..thinking of those wonderful grand children.
God was in there with me too. Which if you think about that "You Are Not Alone" ever.

When I finished " they ask if I wanted to take THAT mask home.. NO! and I got to put it in the trash myself..Good Feeling I must say.

I love you and even though I don't call etc, I hear from your Mom so I know what is going on with you.

By the way tell Caroline Congrats, she is great,huh? Tell Rachel Rose hello too! I know you will just hate it.. ha! ha! but hug John for me.

God Bless you and keep the postive thoughts flowing as you always do!