Is or Isn't Lena
After the diagnosis of Pulmonary Embolisms, my range of emotions stepped up. I asked the nurse if they knew why they were there - and she said it didn't matter. If you are a cancer patient,it is always a possible cause, and that was what they were assuming they were, given my history.
I hate to inject myself with the blood thinners. I was sent home wiwth a month's worth of extra strong blood thinners, and another month or so with a slightly lower dose. Once a day, at the same time, I have to find a big pinch of fat - usually in the abdomen or upper thigh, and taking out the weapon, push it into the site, and then push the stopper down to get rid of the medicine. It doesn't usually hurt, although I sometimes do it crooked, and sometimes I have internal bleeding from that. So I am a mass of bruises, as my blood is now very thin, in various stages of colour - yellow, purple, black.
On Friday after bridge, I had a message on my ansaphone, which was my old hospitl (not the cancer hospital I was booked in for) and I was told I had an emergency appointment with the surgeon who had done my oriignal colon ssurgery, just over a year ago. I immediately thought the worst. He has read the scan and I need to have another operation. No doubt I am crawling with bits of cancer - in my liver, peritoneum, lungs, and just about every place else. My daughter suggested that maybe he just wanted to keep in touch after the year milestone - but you don't make emergency appointments for that.
So all over weekend I read up about all the various metasteses and what the likely outcomes would be for each eventuallity. I was really worried, because whatever he had to say, he must have felt it was important for him to give me the news, rather than his colleague, the oncologist, who I already had an appointment with.
So finally the day came and my daughter went with me. We had bets on which was likely to be the site - she went for liver, and I chose the spleen, because I knew there had been a leision spotted there, which at the time they almost swore was non cancerous, in the January scan.
He was late. Two hours after our set time, we heard that he had just finished with an emergency opeation, and would be with us shortly. It was another hour or so before he showed up. He was my hero, a year ago - and no doubt had saved my life during that first operation. So I would do whatever he said, as I trusted him completely.
He started out by telling us what we already knew - the metasteses to the brain, which wasn't covered by this scan Then he said, "when you have more than one, we tend to use a more general treatment as it is expected that just surgery wouldn't solve the problem."
"So what is the new metasteses," I asked. "The spleen," he answered. "But we were told it wasn't likely to be cancerous." "It is rare, but so is your brain diagnosis - so guess some people are just the exceptions to the rule." "And why can't you remove the spleen? Isn't it basically unnecessary for life?"
"It isn't something we can easily biopsy because it would cause massive bleeding," he said "And it isn't confirmed that it is cancer, only that it is niore likely to be that than a benign tumour. And it has grown iin the last six months, which is also an indication. Think of it as being a squashed pear, and the cancerous part being the size of a finger nail. And it is a slow growing cancer."
So he went on, "all your other organs are cancer free at the moment- but that doesn't mean they will stay that way. I suggest 6 months of chemothereapy, and then we see where we are. If the spleen has become symptomatic, I will of course remove it."
"We're seeing the oncologist tomorrow.." "Yes, I know," he said, "and he will no doubt give you the details of what kind of chemo agent he will use, and when and where you will get the treatment."
So feeling like it wasn't as bad an outcome as we had anticipated, we went home, and tried to be happy with the outcome. "You might get your chemo curls back," said my daughter.
"I need to name my new cancer," I said, and eventually came up with Lena, to remind me that it is in the spleen
The next day we went to the cancer hospital, already knowing what we were gonig to hear.
When we were finally seen, only 20 minutes late this time, we were disappointed that we were being seen by a nurse - although an upgraded one. We had seen her before, and liked her, but we had pages of questions and thought the doctor might have thought the case important enough to take it himself.
She started out by asking how I was, and for an update on my symptoms. I told her I had been a nervous wreck for the last few days, assuming the worst, but was pleased with knowing it was only the spleen that was causing a problem, and that we would be having more chemo.
"Who told you that? "she asked. So we explained about our appointment the day before with the surgeon. And we had pages of questions about why we should be having chemotherapy now - especailly as it obviously hadn't work for the spleen and brain before. And as we were still uncertain about the efficacy of the brain gamma knife treatment (MRI scan in 3 weeks) we wondered if the side effects of that and possible more brain treatment would clash with the obvious side effects of chemo.
"Let me take you through the results of the scan," she said. "First of all none of your major organs have been affected. You do have PE's but you are now being treated for them."
"Can I switch to tablets again as I am not good at giving myself injections," I put in. "We prefer you to stay on the injections for at least a month, and then if things are going well, you can transfer to the tablets again," she answered.
"Where were the PE's of last year?" my daughter asked. "Various scans have showed what they called fragments, and maybe that is what these ones are." So she dug rhrough my records and found out that my original PE was in the lower right quadrant of the lung. But the newly diagnosed ones are top, middle and lower right side. So at least two of them have to be new. But she wasn't at all concerned and as long as I keep up stabbing myself regularly, all should be fine.
I did have a shock a few nights before this. I had gone to sleep, and woke with chest pain, around my heart. Is the blood clot going into it? I wondered. I knew from first aid classes 35 years ago, that it might help if I took asperin - which is what I gave my husband when he had a heart attack in the middle of the night, and it apparently saved him. But I was told not to take asperin which is a blood thinner, and my blood had already been on the treatment for a few days by then. So I took paracetemol. and massaged around my heart and the pains went away. I did google it the next day, and it did say a heart attack could be with only very mild pain, but as mine didn't come back again I didn't want to complicate my problem even more. And I didn't tell anyone - until now.
We asked the size of the leision in the spleen, and she said, "1.3 cm". "And what was it in January?"
"1.1 cm." "So that is hardly any growth," I said. "Exactly," she said, "and it also says that it is not conclusive as to what sort of leision it is." "So it might not be cancer?" "There is no proof that it is."
What a reliief. And the nurse went on - "I think we should let you have a break from treatment of any sort so you can feel normal again. I will book your MRI scan for early August, and when we see the results of that, we can decide where to go from there."
My Get our of Jail Free card. We went home, with such a feeling of accomplshment. I was virtually cancer free at the moment, as far as anyone could tell. The story might be different in a few months, but this called for a very much appreciated gin and tonic. But I still don't know if Lena is a cousin or just a visitor to my body.