The MRI was a piece of cake…

MRI

I’ve now officially had five MRI’s in my lifetime. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s the truth. As I explained yesterday, I absolutely HATE MRI’s. It’s just the thought of being stuffed inside a tube, without much elbow room, that drives me crazy. But like I said, I’m reluctantly going through all the tests the doctors want me to do.

So yesterday I showed up at the hospital MRI Center for yet, my fifth, MRI. I popped a Xanax about 15 minutes before my arrival. So by the time I got there… ahhhhhh…. What up dude? Life was good… life was easy… not a care in the world! It’s the pill form of marijuana without the hunger and laughter! (Not that I would ever know). I checked in, filled out some paperwork and was ready to go. But, they won’t take you in without some humiliation! “Ed, you must change into this gown!” Come on… someone needs to add some style to those stupid gowns. One size fits all and, of course, they’re uni-sex; meaning no one looks good in them! The gowns are also multipurpose. Sometimes you get to wear them with the opening in the front. Other times you get to wear them with the opening in the back. And, of course, you can’t comfortably walk in them when the “back door” is open! So I did as I was told and put the darned thing on. The nurse allowed me to put on a standard hospital issued “robe” which is an ugly blue color that clashes with the green gown. Oh well… at least it covered my backside!

I have to say, having to go through an MRI, this was the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had. The tech was very understanding and was very attentive to my concerns. The Xanax worked perfectly, but she was the icing on the cake. I laid on the table that slides in the tube. She gave me several pillows under my head and feet. She gave me some headphones of which I blasted some AC/DC and the like. The Xanax buzz was still going strong… there I go… into the tube. The tech then talked with me through the headphones. “Ok Ed, I just need to do some tests. You’re going to hear some noise but it’s ok.” “Ok Ed, here we go. This part will take about 3 minutes.” “Ok Ed, we’re done with that. The next will take 1 minute.” Ok Ed, you’re doing good.” She was great and it really helped me get through it. After about 20-25 minutes the slid me out of the tube. I thought I was done. Phew! But nope, the had to inject some dye into me and do it again. It wasn’t bad. It took another 10 minutes or so.

Bottom line, I got through the MRI. And seriously, please don’t tell my doctor but if need be, I’d do it again but only if this woman drove the machine.

Now back to waiting…

Let’s hear it for Xanax!!!

It’s ironic how Patty and I went through her journey nearly five years ago. Yes… it sucked but we learned so much… not just about cancer but also about each other, life, God and just how strong we both could be. So having gone through this together, we’re somewhat familiar with what’s going on with me. Granted there’s been no official diagnosis other than the tumor is real, but having the “C” word hanging above my head and not knowing is somewhat unsettling, to say the least. I think I’ve done pretty darn good putting everything into perspective. Bottom line is that it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it other than stay positive and go through whatever tests the doctors want me to go through. Sure, I could easily burry my head in the sand, ignore and hope everything goes away, but I know that’s not going to happen. So, I’m reluctantly going to every appointment and test that’s scheduled! ARGH!!!

So there’s been some encouraging news. After my appointment with the urologist last week, he had ordered a battery of blood tests. That was a week ago this past Monday. I got the results last Wednesday. I was a little concerned when I heard the doctor say, along with all the other blood tests, he also wanted to run “Tumor Markers.” Having gone through this with Patty, I knew exactly what that test was for. Tumor markers are used to help detect, diagnose, and manage some types of cancer. Elevated tumor markers is a good indication of the presence of some type of cancer in your body. Scripps has a pretty good patient record system in place where I can actually log in to my account and review my medical records. So I had received an email from Scripps stating my medical records had be updated. I went online and there it was… the result of my bloodwork. The first click was on the “Comprehensive Metabolic Panel” which is pretty much every function/organ in your body. Everything came back within normal range! And believe it or not… even my liver function was normal! Ok… that’s good! I then saw the “Alpha-Fetoprotein” result button. That’s the tumor markers. I hesitated for a few seconds… closed my eyes and clicked. I slightly opened my eyes, pretty nervous what I’d see. The normal range for the tumor markers is 0 – 15. Mine came back a 2!!!!! That’s way on the low side! Terrific news!!!!! That’s very encouraging!!!! Phew! Ok… I’m feeling good!

I got a call last Thursday from the scheduler for my urologist wanting to schedule my surgery to get this damned thing out of me. She said she was currently scheduling his surgeries in mid-July! But, she said he had put a “stat” on my chart meaning he wants to do the surgery as soon as possible. I’m good with that! So, she was able to “squeeze” me in on Monday, May 4th at 4:30 p.m.! I’m good with that!

As I said, I’ve been doing pretty well ever since getting this news. I keep telling myself “This is just a bump in the road! That’s all!” And I’ve been sticking to it… until yesterday. The doctor’s office called yesterday wanting to schedule my MRI. I have to tell you, I HATE MRI’s! OK… I’m claustrophobic. I admit it! And sliding into that damned tube really makes me go crazy! Fortunately, in the past, the doctor had prescribed some Xanax (anti-anxiety) to help get me through the process. It’s worked before and I’m pretty confident it’ll be fine again. Anyway the scheduler called at 1:30 p.m. and asked if I could come in at 3:30 p.m. that day!!! Two hour later! I immediately panicked! I could have gone in, but I needed time to process this request. I told he that it wasn’t a good day but I’d be happy to come in the following day (today). She said “But the doctor put a “stat” on your MRI and we need to get it done right away!” Too bad… I wasn’t mentally ready to do this and what difference is a day going to make?! I again told her that it wasn’t a good day and I’d be happy to come in the following day. She said she needed to call me back. She called back a half hour later with my MRI appointment today at 11:00 a.m.

So… here’s the deal. I thought I had everything pretty much in perspective. But the tests continue and that’s the reality of what’s going on with me. Patty lovingly laughs saying “Ed, in no time at all, they’re going to know everything going on in your body!” Great! I’m not happy about the MRI but the reality is that they’re taking this very seriously and there’s definitely a sense of urgency from their side. So Ed… suck it up and go with the flow!

So, I’m putting this back into perspective and hanging on to 70% of these tumors are non-cancerous! My tumor markers were on the low side! All my bloodwork came back within normal range!

Bring on the MRI… and the Xanax!

Another “Bump in the Road???”

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly 5 years now! Granted, I’ve been pretty quiet the past two years. In fact, the last entry I did was June 11, 2013, nearly two years ago! Sorry about that. But the old saying “No news is good news” pretty much fits.
Patty is doing amazingly well! She’s healthy as can be. Her cancer exams have been pushed back to yearly exams and come December, she’ll have been cancer free for 5 years!!! That “elephant in the room” has been laying low at our house… until yesterday.
So… Going through my blog, I realized this is my 100th blog entry! It’s somewhat of a milestone. So I guess it’s appropriate for this entry to be about me…
About a month ago I was showering and while soaping up I felt something unusual in my groin area. I wondered “what the heck is that?” It was hard and shaped like a small egg. Being hypersensitive to cancer after going through Patty’s ride, I told Patty about it and we both agreed I should go to the doctor and get it checked. You know how it is when you call the doctor’s office to get an appointment… you can never get an appointment within the next few days. It’s always weeks out, which was the case here. I explained my concern to the woman scheduler and tried to make her understand I had a sense of urgency. She understood and was able to “squeeze me in” the following week. So, that “egg” was making its presence known to me over the next six days. It wasn’t painful. It’s just there and I know it’s there if that makes any sense. I made it to my appointment early and only had to wait a few minutes to see the doctor. I explained my findings to him. He felt around and said he couldn’t feel anything where I was able to immediately pinpoint its location. He still couldn’t find it. His comment was “Well, you know your body better than I do so I believe there’s something there, but I can’t find it.” So, he ordered an ultrasound which ended up being two weeks later.
I went to my scheduled ultrasound this past Monday. I was joking with Patty earlier that I hoped the ultrasound tech would be a male since there’s some “private parts” right in the area where they be working! I checked in and had a seat. Shortly thereafter I heard a door open behind me and a female voice said “Edward?” I turned and wouldn’t you know it… she was gorgeous, tall with long blonde hair! She smiled at me and said “Hi Edward. My name is Gretchen. I’ll be doing your exam today…” Gretchen? Are you kidding me!!! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I wanted a male! Well, suck it up Ed. I’m sure she’s done a number of these and she’s seen men’s “private parts” in all shapes and sizes. Still… these were my private parts. Damn it, Damn it, Damn it! OK, it turns out I freaked out about nothing. We went into the exam room and she had me all wrapped up like a cocoon. There was no way possible for my “stuff” to pop out while she did her thing. Phew! The exam took about 15 to 20 minutes and I was done. Now the waiting game begins to get the results.
I was at work yesterday and received a phone call around 2 pm. I answered and there was a woman on the line saying “Hi this is Scripps Clinic calling with the results of your ultrasound.” I thought “Wow that was fast!” I said “And, what are the results?” She replied “Your doctor is referring you to a urologist and you need to call this number and make an appointment. She said “Tell them you have a mass in your inguinal region.” I asked “What does that mean?” She said “The urologist will have to explain.” Great! I immediately called the urologist’s number and was connected to the scheduler. I told her my doctor referred me to see a urologist and also that “I have a mass in my inguinal region… whatever that means!” She told me the urologist’s schedule was pretty full and April 23rd was the first opening he had available. She then asked my name and I provided it to her. She brought me up on their computer and said “I need to put you on hold” click! She came back on the line and said “Can you come in at 4 this afternoon?” Hmmm… this is suspicious. Why did she move it from the 23rd to this afternoon??? I told her 4 would work for me and next thing you know, it’s 4 o’clock and I’m sitting in the waiting room. As I sat in the waiting room I saw a nurse practitioner named Susan that was Patty’s angel when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Susan gave Patty so much hope at such a scary time. I wanted to say something to her, but she appeared busy. Finally my name was called and off to the exam room to see the doctor. Of course the nurse had to take my vitals as they usually do. My regular doctor had prescribed new high blood pressure medication for me about a month ago. I take it daily and my BP has been in check normally running around 130/75. But, not today! The nurse slapped the BP cuff on me and I watched confidently waiting for the results. 176/90!!! What???? She said “Are you nervous?” I replied “Obviously!!!” She laughed and didn’t seem too concerned with the results. “The doctor will be in shortly.”
Next thing I know, there’s a knock on the door an in walks my urologist. He introduced himself and shook my hand. I noticed his hand was wet when I shook it. He said “Oh… I just washed my hands… you know, a urologists joke!” OK, I like this guy. He has a sense of humor! He asked me to take a seat and he sat on his stool and rolled in close to me. In a very sincere and empathetic tone he said “Edward, do you know why you’re here?” Wow… immediate flashback to when Patty met with her surgeon. He did the exact same thing to Patty. They must learn this trick in the “Delivering Bad News to Patients 101” class in med school. Who in the world would go to the doctor and not know why they’re there? Anyway, I acknowledged why I was there to him. He then asked “Is there a history of cancer in your family?” Oh no… this conversation is going south quickly! I told him my father had two bouts with prostate cancer years ago. He said “hmmmm… I see.” I’m thinking “Well? Tell me what’s going on!” He slid his stool back a little and said “I’m not sure what it is!” What? All this drama to tell me you don’t know what it is??? Then he changed his story a little and said I have a Para-testicular tumor 30% of which are malignant. Bam! Just like that! I immediately had this sick feeling in my stomach. Get control Ed!!! I’ve always been the guy whose glass is half full so hearing that news told me that 70% are not malignant. That’s pretty good odds! Still, my mind is saying “but what if?” He said he wants to go in as soon as possible to get it out of me. I like that plan! Once it’s out they’ll biopsy it and have an answer of what’s going on. Next step is they’re scheduling an MRI hopefully within the week. I hate, hate, hate MRI’s! I’m claustrophobic and being in that little tube for 20 minutes or so just freaks me out! I had three last year with my back issues and fortunately my surgeon prescribed Xanax which gave me some relief. This doctor did the same thing for me. Phew! After the MRI they may schedule a CT scan then surgery. He said the timeline will be within a month.

Am I scared? Absolutely! Am I worried? Absolutely! Has Patty’s elephant now taken residency with me? You bet! Will God get me through this? 100%!!!

So… I’m trying to look at this as just another “Bump in the road” or an “Inconvenience” or even an “Adventure.” Whatever you call it… it sucks. Let’s just hope and pray 70% is in my favor!

I’ll keep you posted…