Wednesday, August 23, 2006

8.23.06, Bone Scan

Franky Scale today was a 6 or so. Not too bad but some wild fatigue at different points. I spent a good part of the day at SCCA, the cancer hospital, too, which can be demanding or surprising by turns. You never can tell. Tomorrow is the second dose of IV chemo for this new regimen, last week being the taxotere and tomorrow the start of xeloda and gemcitabine. Side effects for the first week were pretty minor, nausea not terribly serious yet and, again, fatigue probably the primary issue.

Today's main activity was the bone scan: an injection of radioactive isotopes, good for what ails you, then a three-hour wait, then the scan itself. It's a head-to-toe test where my whole skeleton is mapped out based on gamma rays I give off with my injection cocktail. I didn't get to see the images myself but the Disenchanted Princess did. The tech doctor man, named Mychael with a Y, said the ribs on my left side looked fine. Checking for cancer in those bones was the goal, or rather, ruling it out was the goal; and since he said to me the images looked good in that respect I'm knocking wood, so to speak, and assuming that's a good result. More detailed information should be available tomorrow, but since it's an IV chemo day I'm not going to promise that I'll be able to blog the results. By Friday I will however.

During the test today, about a 20-minute procedure, two noteworthy things happened. First one was simply pain. Since all this started, around the time of diagnosis or shortly thereafter, I've been unable to lie on my back for any length of time, say longer that a couple of minutes, because the cancer pain would just start to take off whenever I tried. I've never pushed the theory that I should stay off my back, rather I've just stayed on my left or right side, used more pillows to prop my head up, and gone with it. (Staying on my left side has produced an odd quarter-sized spot of pain, not terrible though, for which today's test was ordered. That's what all this was about.) But for the test, which is relatively much longer than a CT scan, which I do regularly like a Happy Hour these days, with no problems, this bone scan takes much longer, and I really got to test the don't-lie-on-your-back theory.

I was right. Don't do it. I was able to hang with it for about 15 minutes but the pain was increasing, but there was some chit chat (which is part of the second noteworthy item, that the doctor asked me out of nowhere I thought "So, do you know Dr. Hands?" (yes, pseudonym) at which question I was shocked — if you remember there was that early incident of the special care and attention I was given when I had my port-o-cath put in . . . I'll leave that one there), there was enough distraction that is, and I tried to keep my mind off it. Keep taking deep breaths, don't think pain, try to fall asleep, etc. Whatever it takes. After most of the test, just as the tech doc was about to continue however, I knew I needed a break, had to get on my side, sit up, do something to change positions, which I knew would cut the pain.

What all this means I don't know. That I have cancer in my gut, I knew that already. That there is something about the primary tumor that makes being supine suck, that was simply, or amply, reconfirmed. That's all. Not an exciting story but those are the details for the day. I guess it means that if I'm in for surgery at any point in the future, they'll need to be extra generous with my anesthetic. Maybe that's the only lesson.

Pain is a crazy phenomenon. It's clearly physical, on the one hand, and also clearly a large part of is psychological. I know it can be controlled to a great degree, I just don't hold all the keys to that secret yet. If anyone has suggestions for how to "erase" pain or stop it from registering when you simply have to deal with it for a given period of time, I'd love to hear them. Most of what I've read simply says "You have the right to be pain free," "Don't hesitate to communicate to your nurse or doctor about your pain," etc. Helpful, but then it's hard to say to the pain "I have a RIGHT to be free from you goddamit!" Pain is deaf apparently. Little concern for people's rights. Not a discriminator of persons, as they say.

Till Happy Hour tomorrow.


tossing salads said...

hi DP and greetings to the all mr. jones. i have been reading but work has been kicking my butt. way to much stress for the low man on the eveolutionary scale that im on. but alas, not the case. so very sorry to not have commented. best vibes i can send you for this day. i so wish you pain free days. i see it and hear it at work and it breaks my heart. so i do realize. talked with the mother or all living last night. will be getting my book back soon. stay strong. love and kisses

wormwood said...

Found your blog today. It seems Korea has softened my mind a bit. Regardless I read as much as I could process. And it's good to see you (in any form).

34DD said...

I am sorry to hear this Mr. Jones - you're probably sick of people saying that, but I wish I could do something - anything. Pain management is not something I know much about - When my brother's (in-law) mom was dying of cancer he use to seek some herb into her hospital room and smoke with her. Not the greatest of pain relievers - but it's something. I can't remember if you said you tried this or not. Anyway she enjoyed it and as a teenage boy he was happy to accompany her : ) I hope you can find something that works for you soon. oxoxo

Anonymous said...

Hi, Scott-

I've been reading regularly but haven't commented for a while. A few weeks ago you posted about how now is the time to stop the small talk, niceties, tip-toeing around, etc.- that people should say they care when they care. So, I DO care, and I think of you and try to send "good vibes" your way at least once a day. I also your blog is a great, great thing.

One thing about the pain- I don't have much experience with this, but my mom and grandmother have both experienced intense back and shoulder pain because of bone and joint problems. Then last month I threw out my back somehow and was in a lot of pain- couldn't walk around and couldn't breathe in much before a stabbing pain stopped me. Since doctors couldn't seem to do much, I gave acupuncture a try, going to a person (in Seattle) that my relatives swear works wonders. After the treatment the pain intensified for a short time, then there were an alarming number of creaks and cracks, and then my pain completely disappeared.

I know one can only hear "Ooh, try aura massage or herbal remedies, etc." so many times before it becomes annoying, and I know cancer is much more involved than mere back pain. BUT, if you think it might help, let me know and I can give you this acupuncturist's name and number.


Mr. Jones said...

Thanks to all, though "wormwood" I wonder... I'm guessing who this is, but not sure yet. Anyway, thank you for your support. It does help, even the virtual. The pain stuff, although specific suggestions are helpful, it's funny to see all the responses people have to pain. I mean, pain just happens, and though it sucks I never mention in to say things aren't going well, just to keep everyone up to date on how the disease develops. To the extent it's possible I like to think "pain is just information." (sometims it's wishful thinking, I know) Still, it's not always that bad. You're all sweethearts, though, and I'll take it. Thanks and love. -Mr. J