Thursday, August 28, 2008

He Cares For Me

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

I'm doing very well after my surgery last Thursday. It turned out to be a very long day. We left about 6:30 a.m. to get to Birmingham as I was on the lineup at 11:00 and was supposed to be there by 10:30. After getting in a pre-op room and getting preliminaries going, we were informed that my surgery would be about 2:00 p.m. About 2:00 we were informed it would be more like 4:00. My doctor's surgeries before me had turned out to be quite involved and took longer than expected.

I had exceptionally good anesthesiologists this time. The first one that saw me in pre-op asked all kinds of questions and assured me they would give me the right medications to keep me from being nauseated afterwards (which they have done for me in all of my surgeries at St. Vincent's in Birmingham). Then, by the time they took me into the holding room at 4:00 I had a different anesthesiologist. He, too, asked a lot of questions. He said he might have to leave before my surgery was finished, but another doctor would take over. I got to meet that doctor before surgery, too, and he asked the same questions. So I was confident that whoever was administering the anesthesia knew my needs very well. The second dr. came in about 4:30 to give me something in my IV and said I probably wouldn't remember anything from then on. He was right. I don't remember anything after he gave that to me until I was waking up in recovery.

While in recovery they couldn't find a room for me. The only place available was in MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit). My surgeon didn't want them to put me there so they found a room on the 6th floor. Then they decided they might need that for the orthopedic patient and put me in MICU anyway. MICU is very strict about their visiting hours. So my husband wasn't allowed to stay with me indefinitely and had to wait till 9:30 the next morning. That didn't go over too well, but, hey, he adjusted...right?!

MICU was another experience. There I was being treated like I really needed to be in MICU until we told them that I'm really not supposed to be there...please feel free to take care of your more needy patients. I did have a very good nurse on duty during the night. She checked on me often. I didn't get awakened by nurses coming in to take vital signs. No, not in MICU. They have you all hooked up to do it automatically. You think you lose sleep/rest with nurses coming in to take your vitals????? (Not to mention they don't close doors to patients' rooms, they sit right outside your room and you hear them talking about everything ALL NIGHT, and, too often, you hear them respond to Code Blues...which thankfully got cancelled each time I heard it...but you hear them go into action until it is cancelled.)

Anyway, I'm doing well. I'll go back to B'ham for my post-op appointment with my surgeon on Tuesday. I'll resume the monthly Erbitux treatments on Thursday. We'll find out next week when radiation treatments will begin. I haven't heard back from my surgeon. I guess he's waiting to see me Tuesday since we pretty much already knew what it was. He said it was in my muscle and he "plucked" it out as not to cut the muscle. So I'm very thankful since I already know what that is like. Thank you for all of the encouragement so many of you have sent my way. It means tons.

Here is an updated list of my history. I carry a list with me now as it's hard to remember when filling out medical history at doctors' offices.
*SCC spread to neck muscle under tip of left clavicle, 8/08 surgery, radiation and continued monthly Erbitux
*SCC spread to neck and gum area, 12/07 surgery to remove 2 lumps in neck, one classified as a dead cancer, gum area-superficial, clean margins, 8 wks Erbitux, then long range monthly Erbitux treatments
*SCC spread through blood stream to knot in neck muscle, 5/07 surgery to remove knot involved removing muscle as well, no lymph nodes tested positive, 6 wks radiation & 8 wks Erbitux
*SCC spread to gum area, 12/06 surgery removing gum area & 2 more bottom molars, superficial and clean margins, no treatments
*SCC spread to lump in neck, 7/05 surgery, one lymph node tested positive, 6 wks radiation treatments to mouth and neck
*Squamous cell carcinoma spread to gum area, 1/05 surgery removing gum & 2 bottom molars, clean margins, no treatments
*Tongue cancer-SCC, 4/04 surgery, clean margins, no lymph nodes tested positive, no treatments
*Breast cancer, 11/2000 lumpectomy, clean margins, no lymph nodes tested positive, 6 wks radiation treatments

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another week, another day

You know I've made it clear in my previous blogs that I don't have much faith in PET scans. I just had one in April and
"all was well". Well, I found out last week that I will be having surgery on Thursday to remove another place in my neck. It either comes up just that fast or it was way too small to detect in April. I don't know.

Anyway, after noticing something different for about 3 weeks in a different part of my neck, I got it checked out. I called my radiation oncologist's nurse last Monday. She asked me if I could come right in. I did. My dr. ordered a CT scan and I went right then for it. It was a contrast dye scan from neck to pelvis. The only thing that showed up as abnormal was the place in my neck. All else was normal. PTL

He had me return to his office as soon as I had the scan done. After he had pulled up the scan on his computer, he called me into his office to show it to me. He said it definitely looked like a lymph node was involved. He called my surgeon in B'ham and talked to him as I sat in his office. It was pretty neat to hear him explaining to him in their medical terms exactly where it was, and..."When can you see her this week?" My surgeon said Friday at 11, but he, also, wanted me to have an ultrasound guided needle biopsy. So I had that done on Tuesday. I got the results on Thursday that it was consistent with squamous cell carcinoma like I have had in my mouth and neck. After seeing my surgeon on Friday, I am on the line-up at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday to have surgery in B'ham. We will leave early that morning, and I will stay overnight as I always have.

It is the consensus of both of my doctors to start radiation on this area about 3 weeks after surgery. It is in a place that has not been radiated before. All of my previous tumors have been on the right side of my mouth and neck. This one is actually on the left. It is just at the bottom of my throat in the center where the two collarbones can be felt. It is like behind the tip of the left clavicle. I will most likely continue with the Erbitux treatments, but I will have to see my medical oncologist to see what he thinks.

I anticipate God's faithfulness in showing His full and complete sovereignty in yet another trial He has allowed. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. I will most certainly share with you whatever my God shares with me. You know, God working in our lives is what we need to hear from each other to give the hope and encouragement of a living God. I would love to hear from you.