Friday, January 9, 2009

Recent Activities

I tried to figure out the video editing with some material I shot for Christmas, but I haven't progressed as far as I'd like. I think I can handle the on-PC stuff rather smoothly, but uploading it for use here is driving me nuts. One of these days I would like to have back-filled The Christmas Whoosh and Beginning of the Christmas Whoosh with them. Whenever I get around to it, and if all goes well, you'll see an Update or two at the former end of them.

I've been a little busy lately with doctors' appointments, and some of that is somewhat in-process still. After we got back from North Dakota, I had a CT of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The day of this test it was snowing and morning traffic was really slow. I had to drop by Suburban Imaging at 9:30 to pick up a barium shake, and it was not all that great tasting. It was kind of like a sports shake, but thicker.

I drank the first half at 9:30 and then made my way in to work. I got there about 10. While my work laptop continued booting, I had to drink the second half at 10:15. By the time I choked that down, it was about 10:30 and time to drive back to Suburban Imaging for the 11:00 scan.

This CT was quicker than both the MRI and PET/CT scans I'd had previously. But whatever they were using for contrast was quite funky. I was told in advance that I might notice a strange taste in my mouth and feel a little warm as it went through my system. I was mentally contrasting with the slow cooling of the saline solution for the PET. But we also went a little off-script.

Apparently, they needed to push the contrast pretty quickly, so one of the technicians had to be present in the room to make sure it didn't go so fast that it broke the connection and might spray all over the place. Well it didn't, and that warmth they told me to expect came really quick. I mean fast. I was caught by surprise, as it took about two seconds for my taste to get funny, my head to get warm. It was quite the rush. And when it ran through my abdomen and down to my legs it felt strangest of all -- like I was peeing my pants or soiling them. All of that was over and done in about 20-30 seconds. And then it was into the giant metal donut.

Prepping for the Experimental Chemo

The first week of January I met with Gretchen Strobel to discuss the what-not regarding the clinical trial for the experimental chemotherapy. Parts of the discussion involved her describing to me the chemicals, the routine schedule, and preliminary tests.

Two days later, yesterday, I met with Dr. Amatruda to discuss some leftover questions that turned up while talking with Gretchen. We also got started on some of the tests, which involved leaving behind less fluid that I walked in with. We also had to schedule another brain MRI for next week.

Liver MRI Animated ImageDr. Amatruda tried to show me the results of the previous abdominal CT that showed likely tumors on my liver. We had a bit of a time trying to visualize the pictures with the location on my liver as it pertained to the resected areas and the other tumors.

On the MRI, the liver is the big light gray blob in the middle. The bigger darker area that pops up on the left I believe was the resection site. There is a smaller, more circular one that pops up (just above a kidney) in the second-to-last picture of the animation. It is a little more to the right of the first blotch. I'm not sure if that is the second resection site or a possible tumor.

Anyways, they're doing some blood test and such. I'm slated for the brain MRI next week Wednesday. And if everything comes up okay, I'd start chemo on MLK day. The clinical trial goes by the short name of A Randomized, Double-blind, Phase 3 Trial of STA-4783 in Combination with Paclitaxel versus Paclitaxel Alone for Treatment of Chemotherapy-Naive Subjects with Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma.

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