Post-op Status

Just a quick note to follow up on my last radioembolization treatment on Monday. As I should have expected, each time I go in for these, things gets easier and easier. While the procedure itself went a little longer (2 hrs on the table), the overall process went very smoothly and I almost would say I enjoyed it this time… too bad I’m done with the treatment.

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked from home, expecting to get those flu-like symptoms and fatigue. On Tuesday my co-workers surprised me by sending me 8 bags of groceries from the supermarket.

Because of my naturally unassuming personality, combined with how I feel about my own health and staying positive about it, I usually feel undeserving of such gifts and when it happens, I get broadsided with a feeling of gratitude that overwhelms me. It happened when Deanna, my sister-in-law, produced ERIC STRONG bracelets to show support for me. I have a hard time processing such things and it moves me every time I think about it. Don’t get me wrong: I know my own strength and there’s no lack of self-confidence in my heart. But one of my long-standing credos is to live without expectation of others (it frees me from most disappointments). So to get gifts like these are totally unexpected to me and it hits me hard — I have to be alone, I use a bunch of tissues, I’m a mess, etc.

At any rate, after I received the groceries the same phenomenon happened to my side effects as when my college friends came to visit me around Thanksgiving: they never showed up. No fatigue, no flu-like symptoms, nothing. I had to check my doctor’s notes to make sure they actually recorded inserting the Theraspheres into the left lobe of my liver. My body handled the radioactive sand they injected into me and kept moving without slowing down. It takes a lot more to stop me… like 8 bags of groceries or plastic wristbands.

So now we wait and enjoy the fall weather while the microscopic beads do their work, and the tumors shrink before I get scanned again to gauge progress. I’ll be back when I hear more. Until then, no more treatments for the time being, and no more sweating like a pig during my walks. I love Autumn!

Monthly Update

These posts have become sort of a monthly thing but I imagine I’ll be posting more frequently as the seasons change, mostly because I’ll be finishing up the current treatment and seeing what’s in store soon. My second and final radioembolization treatment is scheduled for a week from today (26 Sept) and it couldn’t come at a worse time, as I’m quite busy at work with several projects that are to be completed within the month. Oh well. I have a sneaky feeling that the work will still be there when I feel well enough to go back to the office.

I mention that this procedure next week is the final one, because I was told the surgeon is going to split up the dose for the left half of my liver and go in 2 different ways, to account for my wacky blood vessels. So I’m looking forward to not having to do this again after next week. Those 2 hours sobering up in post-op is a real drag, man.

After the procedure, it’s a lot like last time: glow in the dark for a couple weeks, then go in for a check-up to make sure I’m okay,  then wait a few more weeks before doing another scan – evidently the tumors tend to swell up after being nuked and can show up larger than expected temporarily – to gauge how successful the treatment was. I’ve said this before: if I could go on just how I felt to determine my overall health, I’d say I’m making a full recovery. That might be a false hope, however, and I can’t assume anything just because I feel good. My fingers are feeling better too, just a little hint of numbness at the tips. I’d put myself at a solid 95 – 98%, based on how I feel at this point.

Which is why I’m not going to get down on myself if the scans come back and little progress had been made with the radioembolization; if my oncologist recommends I go back on chemo for a while, I’m sure I can easily handle it, for 2 reasons: (1) I’m much stronger than I was a year ago, and (2) I won’t be put on such an aggressive chemo treatment like I had to go through last year and the beginning of this year. I won’t be taking Avastin, the chemo that causes neuropathy. So I’m prepared to do whatever it takes as far as next steps are concerned.

I just got the letter in the mail from my proctologist that it’s time for my annual colonoscopy, yay! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we’ve taken this journey. I’m not sure if it’s been a quick 12 months… parts of it have been fast, other parts (the first 6 months of chemo) seemed to take forever. If there are positive aspects from the last year, one of them would be that I’ve discovered I am much loved, several times more than I initially thought I deserved. And that my wife’s decision to marry me 21 years ago probably saved my life. I can’t do this without her love and your support. Right now I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, and (apart from the ickiness awaiting me next Tuesday and Wednesday) I have no intention of backing off this stuff. I can only hope the scans from this treatment confirm how much better I’ve been feeling. I’ll share the results as soon as I hear them!

Thank you once more for being here with me, hopefully you can tell how much good it’s doing me. Keep walking, the weather will cool off soon!