Thursday, May 7, 2015

Treatment #3: Liver Ultrasound

Upon awakening from my post-infusion nap after treatment number three, I dutifully made an appointment for a liver ultrasound as my oncologist had recommended.  It would happen three days later, on Halloween morning.

Two days after infusion, a Wednesday, I went to the clinic to get the pump disconnected.  The doc spoke again of liver enzymes, and the promise of another Neupogen shot (or shots) next week to ensure that my blood was in good shape for treatment #4.  Her plan was to reduce the oxaliplatin by 20% for the next treatment to see if my liver would tolerate it better at a lower dose.

That evening I was feeling good enough to attempt a short journey to a nearby church.  Walking to morning Mass had been part of the boys' and my daily routine all summer long.  Usually we spent the time it took to reach our destination discussing Pokemon.  Sometimes we'd talk about Minecraft, but mostly it was Pokemon all the way (and back).  We'd pause to capture tiny toads if we saw any, or to marvel at various bugs along the way.  New construction in the neighborhood almost made us late more than once.  To keep us moving, I'd always promise to stop (and we did) on the way back, when we had more time for observation.  I missed those walks terribly.  Since Patrick was willing to accompany me that evening, we tested whether eight weeks of healing up from surgery would allow the trip.

It was a slow trek, but I made the two-mile round trip without falling over, and without too much pain.  Success!

The next morning I showed up at the hospital for the ultrasound and was "fast-tracked" to radiology.  One of the great things about this test was that virtually no prep was required of me--no drinking vast amounts of water, as for a pregnancy ultrasound, and no barium slurries, like a CT and PET require.  Easy peasy.

Once I was on the exam table, the next forty minutes went like this:
Radiology tech:  Take a breath and hold it.

Me: [taking a breath and holding it for ten to twenty seconds]

Radiology tech H.:  Breathe [moves and pushes the ultrasound probe around my abdomen]  Take a breath and hold it.

Me: [taking a breath and holding it for ten to twenty seconds]

Radiology tech H.:  Breathe.

...and repeat over and over and OVER.

At one point I was asked to turn toward the screen.  The screen was filled with swirls of various shades of gray that made no sense to me, except that I was able to discern that the solid white spot on the screen indicated a kidney stone.  I was only able to make this impressive observation because the tech had typed the word "kidney" and that too, appeared on the screen.  I asked her to add my urologist to the long list of doctors that would eventually receive the radiologist's report.

The tech printed off some of the scans and told me she'd "be right back".  In this case, the phrase, "be right back" meant, "I'll be back in twenty-five minutes."  I remained on the exam table, breathing at my leisure.  When she finally did return, she gave me the O.K. to get dressed and leave. 


That night, I experienced stabbing pains unlike any I had ever had before.  Was it the result of the pushing and probing from the ultrasound?  Could it have been due to the previous day's walk?  Did I develop a hernia?  Something else?  Patrick and kids 3, 4, and 5 went trick-or-treating.  Kid 1 was on candy-doling assignment, while kid 2 took off with a friend for places unknown.  I spent Halloween night camped in the recliner blankly staring at the T.V. screen, trying not to move.

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