Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's gone

The lung nodule, that is. Unbelievable. Better news than I was even hoping for.

Had my CT yesterday; that was pretty much a non-event as usual. I had to have routine bloodwork as well. Since I drink the one-hour prep instead of the redi-cat, I had to be there an hour before the test. After slugging down that poison, er, delightful potion, I walked over to the lab. Monday night I had an epiphany; what if they could put in a heparin lock when they drew my blood? Then my shy veins wouldn't have to go through the prod-n-poke twice. The CT techs are good but I have been stuck up to 6 times in one session before they found a vein that didn't blow, roll or otherwise screw up. Since the phlebotomists are generally spot-on, I figured it was worth asking. Of course, the answer was No. "Can't do it; not allowed and besides we don't have the proper equipment anyhow." Figures that she struck oil with the first stick. I mentioned it to the tech, who agreed that it's a shame that they don't do that. He was good though; he ended up only poking me twice, and I am only slightly bruised today. I would live quite happily with bruises from elbow to fingertips if it meant a clean scan, but it was nice to escape relatively unscathed.

Our hospital has an employee ideas program; they want us to submit ideas to improve some aspect of patient care or operations. Today I submitted an idea to allow the phlebotomists to place hep locks (if they're allowed to, I'm not sure what that protocol is) in cases where the patient will be having an IV placed the same day. Can't hurt to suggest...

I have to hold my breath twice during the test because they are doing two scans. First is a scan of my lungs, then one of the abdomen and pelvis. During each of these tests I have to hold my breath. It's not a problem for me; only once during all the scans I've had did I need to exhale before the recorded voice told me I could. I asked the tech how long I am holding my breath since it seems like an eternity even though I know it isn't that long. He told me for the lung scan I hold for 27 seconds, 24 seconds for the other. Lots of preparation goes into that 51 seconds. And it sure costs a lot of money, which makes me feel very fortunate to have good insurance.

My doctor's appointment was scheduled for 3PM; Jim was planning to meet me there. When patients check in at the cancer center, they are given a pager, like the kind you get at a chain restaurant; it's a coaster style with a ring of lights. Sadly, there's no bar to belly up to while you wait. I was surprised to be paged within about 20 seconds of sitting down in the waiting lobby. Luckily Jim arrived just then, so I didn't have to leave a trail of bread crumbs through the maze back to the exam room. The nurse took basic stats including my temp, which came up as 100.6. She took it again and it was 99.4. I told her that I thought the brisk walk from the parking garage was the cause. My blood pressure was high which I also attributed to the walk. After the nurse left I told Jim, "I'm sure the fact that I'm completely terrified right now has something to do with that number."

After several minutes the fellow doctor came in. (This is a teaching hospital after all.) He introduced himself and asked how I was doing. Then he asked me if I knew the results of my CT scan. I said no, and he said that it was good news. Then he told me that the nodule in my lung was gone. At first I didn't understand what he was saying. He explained that they couldn't find the nodule on the scans. They never knew what that thing was, though they had confirmed that it wasn't malignant. I was overjoyed to say the least; I even gave the fellow a high five! Jim looked very relieved, in his reserved way. The fellow and I talked a little more and he left us to see Dr. Rini.

Dr. R was his usual serious self but even he said "it was definitely nothing". We'll rescan in 6 months and as long as that scan is clear I won't see Dr. R until this time next year. He wants to continue to scan me at 6 month intervals for the next couple of years, then will consider going to an annual scan schedule. My chance of recurrence will never be zero, but the likelihood is small and getting smaller. He told us that most recurrence happens around the 2 to 2 1/2 year period. I'm currently at 2yrs 2 months. In my mind, the next scan will represent a key point, kind of like the end of the first trimester signaling a vast decrease in the chance of miscarriage. He told us that after 5 years the rate of recurrence is less than 5%.

I also asked him about the fact that I was pregnant while the cancer was growing. I have often wondered if the pregnancy hormones contributed to the aggressiveness of the tumor. He said that he didn't think so, but that he couldn't say for certain because most people are diagnosed with kidney cancer around age 60, so they don't tend to be pregnant. :-) I explained that I've just been curious about it but that I certainly didn't blame the pregnancy for contributing to the cancer. To the contrary; it was because I was pregnant and an ectopic pregnancy had been ruled out that my symptoms were taken seriously. So as far as I am concerned, my pregnancy very well may have saved my life. A second chance and a second healthy, beautiful daughter; absolutely a fair trade for my kidney.

It is interesting to me that the nodule has disappeared, disintegrated, left the building, whatever it did. I had visualized it dissolving a few times but did not really expect to be told that it was gone. So perhaps I used my powers for good instead of evil for once.

This gives Jim and me one more reason to celebrate when we go on our second honeymoon next month... in Vegas, baby!


sherri said...

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS LIZ! I am so very delighted to hear your good news. PVs for continued health and good times in LV.

Audrey said...

Super terrific outstanding news! I'm so thrilled for you! Time to party!

Regina said...

So glad to hear this!!!

Jacqueline said...

woo hoo!!!!

RHIA said...

What wonderful news!!!! WOO!!!!
:) :):) :) :):)