Monday, December 22, 2008

Optimism for Christmas

That last post of mine was rather negative. I suppose that was because I needed to ask a question of Dr. Amatruda and take in the answer. Today I followed up with Dr. Sielaff, and had to ask a few more questions and again take in the answers. The former brought me down, the latter actually perked me up. So I hope that this post makes up for the last and lifts Christmas spirits.

With the below-zero temperatures, and my general lack of circulation, I answered Dr. Sielaff's "how are you doing?" with "cold". The post-op wound management stuff for the liver surgery went pretty quick because everything looks dandy. I had to razz him a bit about the strange (to me) new appearance of my navel -- which isn't really noticeable to anyone but me. And then we broke into a pretty quick back-and-forth about things going forward.

I asked about the two spots that were resected, and Dr. Sielaff sketched wider ovals (I was envisioning a reduced-scale version of the wide excision) representing the removal of a larger area than the smallish spots themselves. I verified that I indeed still had a gall bladder. He inquired about the Hoag study -- whether or not I had heard anything from them yet. I shared that I had not, but that Dr. Amatruda had emailed them and cc'd me and we are awaiting an update.

And then my question of the days was about the "seeds". Perhaps it was my natural-born pessimism, or the fact that I like to buck up for worst-case first, but I had begun so envision my liver as a slice of watermelon -- as it pertains to both the size and number of the possible tumors. Dr. Sielaff explained that they were more like sesame seeds. That was good to hear, but I was now imagining a Whopper bun covered with them, so I asked about their number. He said perhaps 4 or more were seen during the laproscopic procedure. Relief and optimism returned and my spirits were lifted.

I did my best to relate the main points of my visit with Dr. Amatruda, mentioning the alphabet-soup experimental chemo stuff, the upcoming CT scan, and the scheduled start for chemotherapy. I asked if this was likely in response to the seeds, to try to kill them off, and I believe that is so. I think the Hoag vaccine, if all goes well, could be down the road a few months or so. And adjuvant therapy may also be on the horizon somewhere if the existing tumors -- too small for a needle biopsy -- are killed off.

All went well today, and I wished the folks at Abbott Northwestern a Merry Christmas. And may everyone reading this have a Merry Christmas as well!

No comments: