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August 18, 2020 - Gamma Knife Complete!
I am pretty wiped out from the last 2 days. I promise to add more gory details when I am more lucid! Here goes nothing…
Yesterday, Jamie and I were able to have my staples removed (Yay me)! It really didn’t hurt, but it was mildly uncomfortable. It was over in a quick minute. We Then had to go to Northside Hospital in Forsyth for my brain MRI. Our appointment was at 5PM. We were “planning” on a quick (1hour) procedure and then a lovely dinner together at a restaurant in Avalon, as we are staying at The Hotel at Avalon. Note to self: STOP Planning. We also learned the valuable lesson to NOT schedule imaging procedures at the hospital.
As it turned out, Northside had multiple emergencies that required brain MRI’s. Because they were emergencies, they took precedence over our appointment. Around 6pm, they offered to reschedule, but I politely informed them that we were not leaving without the MRI. We had to be back at the same hospital for the 5:30am Gamma Knife procedure, and the MRI was required. They understood and profusely apologized. We certainly understood. Heck! I had an emergency MRI that led to a craniotomy, we understood more than most.
So, they finally took me back around 8:30pm for prep. While I was in back, Jamie was mildly entertained by HGTV’s “Love it or List it”. You all know how happy he is to watch the crazies on home fix-it shows (that was sarcasm in case it didn’t translate).
I continued my streak of being a “hard stick”. Nurses find it hard to find my veins for an IV. These are the days that I miss my port! The nurse tried, but he had to call the IV Nurse. She got it, but it did take her 2 tries! So three sticks on Monday…it’s a good thing that I have a high tolerance for pain. We finally completed the MRI around 10pm, had crappy drive thru for dinner, and stumbled into bed by 11. We were determined to get at least five hours of sleep. It was a restless night for us both.
We made it back to the hospital at 5:30am. Thankfully, they allowed Jamie to be with me through most of the pre-op. I suppose Cancer and Brain Mets are good excuses for relaxing the policy. The nurse did say that the sedation helps as well. I don’t care why, I was just relieved to have him with me. Have I mentioned that Jamie has a LOW tolerance for pain and is extremely squeamish when it comes to needles?
Well, they had to start another IV for Gamma Knife. I told the sweet nurse about my pitiful veins. She gave it the old college try, but no cigar. She had to put in a call and request the IV nurse. At about that time, Jamie was feeling flushed, light headed, and needed water. Thankfully the nurses took care of him. The IV nurse came down and after 2 more tries was able to start my IV. Three stick Renee never disappoints. Luckily for me, it was the same IV nurse from last night. She was still on her 7 to 7 shift. We had a good laugh.
Once they had the IV started, they proceeded to sedate me. I am so thankful for that, as I don’t have much recollection of them screwing the contraption to my head. They do apply copious amounts of numbing cream before they start. I am including pictures. They certainly aren’t glamour shots, but they are reality shots. There is a photo where I look like Marvin the Martian. I do not have memory of that, but Jamie told me they measures each of those holes to my head. They do remove the Martian Helmut, but not the titanium contraption screwed into my head. That contraption is affixed to the Gamma Knife table, ensuring that my head will remain still.
I was in a peaceful slumber during the radiation. They mercifully removed my mask for the procedure. The actual radiation is very quiet. It is not noisy like a typical MRI or breast radiation. You can not feel it. Around 200+ radiation beams are focused on the area of my brain tumor. They inject radiation and destroy the DNA of any remaining cancer cells. The doc said he removed the tumor with clean margins, during surgery, but Gamma Knife is a big insurance policy.
I have a bandage wrapped around my head covering the 4 pinholes. I have to keep it on until Thursday. My brother thinks I look looks a soldier injured in war, I suppose I am at war, but you won’t see me raising the white flag.
The Gamma Ray procedure was a success. We received the best news. No new lesions (brain tumors) were found. It is common for people with Brain Mets to have multiple lesions. They focused on the area where I had the tumor removal. They were pleased with the results. Going forward, I will have Brain MRI’s every 3 months for at least a year. I can promise you that Jamie and I will go to Northside Imaging, not a Northside hospital, LOL!
Tomorrow, I meet with my oncologist to understand my next round of chemotherapy and drugs to fight off new cancer occurrences. I promise, I will give details on all. It may include a second opinion with an oncologist specialized in HER2+ with Brain Mets. It may mean chemo by IV. If that is the case, you can bet your boopy that I will get another Port. My veins suck! The best case would be oral chemotherapy drugs. I am gettin ahead of myself, but we should have answers tomorrow. I will update with details when I know.
Thank you all for the thoughts, prayers, and virtual hugs. Each and everyone of you lifted me up.