(Originally published March 2, 2022)
In an ideal world, I would have had this initial PET Scan before going into the first treatment. Between being in the hospital, the cancer moving quickly, insurance approvals, and scheduling - we weren't going to get this particular test done until after treatment 1.
The day before, they asked me to go on a low-carb diet to counteract the impact of the radioactive sugars they use to get visibility into the organs. Not a huge deal for me - I just ate some cheese, soup, and made sure I drank a lot of water.
The next morning, I took myself to the PET scan place in my best sweatpants and 30-year-old Virginia Tech sweatshirt. The friendly physician assistant placed me in a private room, injected the radioactive sugar, told me to get comfortable, then turned off the lights as she walked out the door. It was 6:30am, so the darkness was welcome.
Sixty minutes later, she walked me over to the scanner and had me lay down face up with my arms overhead. The tunnel provided about a foot of clearance between my face and the machine and was approximately the length of my torso. Over the 20 minutes of the scan, the platform moved in and out of the scanner. Thankfully, this is one of those scans that do not require you to hold your breath.
In a fit of creativity, the PET scan personnel had blocked the overhead fluorescent with a bottom-up shot of some coconut palms in an attempt to encourage their patients to think of lying on a tropical beach. I don't know whether I personally want to lie directly underneath a couple of coconut palms with actively ripening coconuts.
The whole experience was quite relaxing.
Unfortunately, I hit a wall health-wise after that PET Scan. I've been experiencing a burning sensation under my left ribs if I sit up or walk around - to the point where I am only "functional" if I am either flat on my back or I've taken an Oxy. This was the pain that sent me to the hospital in January.
Ryan and I think that I may have finally run out of adrenaline to power through.
On the bright side, at least the pain IS controllable with only one Oxy in the morning OR (if I don't need to do anything that day) spending the day lying down. I am trying to be very mindful around the amount of Oxy I am taking, when, and why. That stuff scares me.
After taking a look at the results from the scan, there may be more liver involvement - with the spleen and liver fighting for space under my ribcage. The report also indicates that there "might" be a damaged area of my spleen. Furthermore, it appears (to me) that my lymph nodes are enlarging. I need to discuss all of this with my oncologist during my next treatment on March 10th. I haven't received a panicked phone call from his office, so that's good.
Next steps for me - Port install on March 4th with my friends at the Inova Alexandria Interventional Radiology Space Station. The hope is that with this port, I don't have to go through another excruciating week of forearm soreness post-treatment. Plus, it reduces the number of times the nurse at the oncologist's office has to stick needles in my veins.
I'll continue to update as I have the attention span and energy.