Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcome Home...

I completed my 100 day tests a few days before thanksgiving and the results were good overall. The 100 day tests consist of a PET can, CT scan, bone biopsy and a bone marrow biopsy. The biopsies are done with local anesthetic on the lower back just above your butt. Don't let the mention of local anesthetic trick you, this is a very painful process. Most of the pain and discomfort comes from the penetration of the bone. There is a sensitive layer inside the bone that cannot be numbed so you just have to tough it out for a few seconds while this area is penetrated and the marrow is sucked out with a large syringe. Furthermore, the bone biopsy is a larger needle use to extract a cylindrical piece of bone about 1/2 inch long and about 3mm wide. The bone extraction causes more discomfort than pain. There's a lot of pressure and abrupt sharp pinches.

The CT scan is just your normal everyday CT. It includes drinking some disgusting fruit flavored barium mixture for about an hour then go lay in a tube for 30 mins. Also while laying in the tube they inject you with contrast. Pretty easy if you ask me. These things are meant to help identify your digestive system and your circulatory system. Next is the PET scan, this is where they inject you with a radioactive glucose that will concentrate in highly active areas. The basis of this is that cancer cells are respiring much faster than normal cells hence tumors form. So the cancerous cells will consume more glucose and show up on a PET scan as a very bright yellow-greenish color. This is also done within a CT tube. An important note following a PET scan; you're consider radioactive for approximately four hours after the scan so you must remain at least ten feet from small children and pregnant woman. This is to protect young developing minds from developing abnormally. Scary stuff. PET scans are a very useful tool in staging, identifying, and detecting cancer and are a necessary part in the future of early identification of cancer but we need to be responsible and protect each other from these harsh side effects.

So, now I've been out of the Hope Lodge for a few weeks now and I'm enjoying life, as much as I can. I'm unable to do a lot still due to my suppressed immune system but I'm much happier to have somewhat of a control of my day to day schedule. The reports from my tests were good -as they should be- and I'm looking forward to my next scan in just a few months to see if the transplant is progressing. As of now my bone marrow consists of 99.6% my sisters blood and my blood counts are remaining stable. The docs say in 180 days post transplant I will be able to do much more as long as things go well. Thanks for your prayers and support.

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