Monday, August 14, 2006

appointment today

I left work at 2pm today for my 3pm appointment with Dr. Schuster. Clare and Su met me there. At the appointment, he elaborated in depth about what he had spoken to me about in our telephone conversation last Thursday.

Basically, the PET-CT scan that I took on the 9th showed spots of suspicious activity (of some kind) in my spleen, which surprised him. The mediastinum, which is the original tumor site for my Hodgkin's Disease, was clear though. There was no evidence of cancer. Excellent! And my lungs, which showed signs of pre-pneumonia on the last PET-CT scan, were clear too. By blood work was normal as well. No anomalies here. So with regard to both my mediastinum and lungs, all looks well but the strange thing, Schuster explained, is the fact that areas of my spleen lit up on the imaging scan. The surrounding organs are fine. It's just the spleen. Unfortunately, the PET-CT scan didn't reveal sufficient information about the nature of why my spleen is suspicious and worthy of further examination. Several things could have caused it to light up. Consequently, he scheduled me for a CT scan which I took after our appointment this afternoon. The CT scan, he hopes, will offer evidence to the cause of my spleen's strange appearance. The spleen itself, however, wasn't enlarged according to the PET-CT scan. An enlarged spleen could be a sign of cancer or infection, such as mono. If the CT scan doesn't reveal any new information and thus, prevents him from being able to ascertain a diagnosis, the worst case scenario is the removal of my entire spleen (aka laparoscropy-splenectomy). I'd, of course, continue to go for regular scans and check-ups thereafter as I have been doing although this time around my the abdominal cavity would become the new area of scrutiny for the medical staff.

At the moment, chemotherapy or radiation isn't on the table. A second transplant isn't on the table either. Right now, nothing can be done before further information is ascertained which is why I received the CT scan today. They can't treat the spleen if they don't know what's going on. Hopefully, this latest scan will reveal clearly the cause of my spleen's apparent problem(s) and hopefully, the problem (if there is one) can be solved easily without laparoscopic surgery but if the removal of my spleen is necessary, it seems like its a fairly straightforward procedure. The most significant long term side effect of not having a spleen, he said, is that I would be more susceptible to infections which is no small thing. If only I had a little of Wolverine's high level of immunity. Of the little that I know about the long-term side effects of a splenectomy, it's definitely something that I'd like to avoid but if I must go ahead with it, I guess I must. We'll see. There are still so many questions that I have to ask. I could still live a relatively normal life. The spleen is not an essential organ, although I'd sure love to keep the one I have. ;) It would just make things so much easier.

He said he'll call me about the CT results tomorrow and then, I guess we'll go from there.


Comment Anonymous Sarah said...

My best wishes that nothing is wrong - or that it's only something minor. I hope nothing interferes with your return to Chicago. I send big hugs from the DC area. Keep well.


12:26 AM  

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