Thursday, May 07, 2015

Update on Curves in the Road

Some of you have read an update on FB today, but not all cross over.

An update from this mornings' update on FB.  As expected I am home for the weekend while they assemble the arsenal of men and machines (I know that is sexist language, all three surgeons are male - sorry.)

I have a tumor on and along my spine at T9, that is about three ribs (a short stack) up from the bottom of the rib cage.  There is about a 90% chance that it is not cancerous, and if it is it is a rare slow growing cancer that is treatable. Because of the size, and location of the tumor, radiation  and chemo are not good options. It is exerting strong pressure on the spinal cord inside the spinal column.  The surgeon said if it was cancer and he could get 10% of it out of the spinal canal he can attack with radiation and other therapies, but because of the degree of blockage it is either take it out, or pick the color for the Hover-Round.

They have given me a great deal of temporary symptom relief with drugs. With the doctors permission I drove home from the hospital.  But the relief is a temporary fix. I have had little pain, a good sign in many ways.  The only pain medication so far is Tylenol.  The hard stuff will be after surgery.

The surgery is less ugly then first discussed.  They will go in through the back of the spine, preserving as much nerve function as possible. Remove as much of the tumor from the spinal canal as can be safely done, then remove as much of the tumor from the bone, around the spine, a couple of ribs, and as far as they can chase it into the chest.  It is big enough for the untrained eye to see.  Then a second surgeon will take over and fuse the bones (screw in titanium plates and rods) to stabilize the bone structure.  Before they do any of this there is a separate procedure to locate the vessels that feed blood to the spine, one of them may run through the tumor and be feeding it blood.)  It helps to know all of this before they start hacking away.

How big is it?  The outpatient MRI place on Friday evening sent me home with a CD with all of the scan images on it.  I popped it in the computer last weekend and clicked the right buttons and took a look.  I was strolling down through my spine and suddenly it changes,suddenly it does not look like the the parts above or below.  I panicked for a minute and remembered I didn't have a clue what I was looking at.  Took the CD out and put it away.  Yesterday when the neurosurgeon showed me what we are working on, he showed me the exact same mass.  The difference is he has 20 years experience in knowing what he is looking at.  If you get one of those CD's, don't look at until someone goes over the report with you. You will only scare yourself. They gave me back the CD, I will save a few images from it for blog-fodder.

So where do we go from here.  Tomorrow or Monday they will call with a schedule.  Surgeries and inpatient stay are 4-6 days, then home for 4-6 weeks of recovery.  My employer has wonderful short term disability insurance that kicks in on the 5th day, and pays my full salary for 20+ weeks if needed.  That takes off a lot of stress going into this knowing that I don't have to worry about paying the bills. If I am not ready to go back to work in 20 weeks - we will be taking another turn. Now I only have to worry about the insurance deductibles / co-pays and I there is limit, I think $2,000 a year on those, I can live with that.

For right now I am handing all of the projects in the office over to someone and take some time off. I thought the Neurosurgeon was going to stomp on my phone when he came in the second time and found me working on office email (doesn't anyone post on Facebook anymore?)  So doctors orders, I need to de-stress and not work for a few days  weeks.  This is not where I expected to be, when I drove to the office on Monday, shortly after I arrived at the office the family doc called and said, take yourself to the nearest emergency room and hand them the CD, they will know why you are there once they see the images, I only worked 4 hours after that before I left.

I will get some more travel posts ready to go while I am waiting to hear and update as I move forward. I was working until they gave me a sleeping pill last night, I have 7 hours in today.  I promised J that I would turn off my office email tomorrow.

Spines, after all these years of thinking I lacked one!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks John, I write and schedule ahead of time, so Travel goes on,

  2. oh brother!

    I like the "90% chance that it is not cancerous" part. :)

    and I agree with the MD - cut off the office e-mails; you need to think about YOU right now, not some damn crap that other people can handle.

    I always say to my boss (cause I don't have a cell phone): "if I drop dead tomorrow, life goes on." what did working people do before cell phones? they went home and relaxed on the weekend. we need to get back to that again. being on call 24/7 means you are working for free. ain't nobody got time for that.

    so this weekend, unplug, have a drink, hold on to sweet bear, cuddle, eat something extravagant, and pay no heed to the world outside.


    1. Mixed messages from the boss, but I am unplugging soon. I worked 8 hours today, without going to the office.

  3. I always think that knowing what the problem is, is half the solution. I know it's got to be scary as hell. Thank God we have progressed the medical arts and sciences beyond potions and leeches.

    All of my positive energy is directed at you, Travel Penguin!

    Peace <3

    1. Yes, if the family doc Friday morning had not caught the bigger issue, and treated the stiffness in my knees, I'd be rolling in a few weeks.

  4. so how is this going to affect your 12 of 12 this month? : )

    I kid....I kid. It all sounds very doable from a medical perspective. I ran a neurosurgery practice for years. It might take some time, but you'll be fine. Good luck along the way though.

    1. Hey thanks, it is good to hear from people who have been around this, this is my first foray into this sort of thing. My 12 on 12 for this month is one image from each of the past 12 months, it is set and will post automatically. I as scheduled to be in Florida and not sure I would have time to post, so I created last week.

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