July 6, 2008

We had a lovely 4th of July – we went over to Sharon and Gary’s for dinner and cards – Robin, Jasmine, and Keeko were all a little bit worried over the sound of fireworks, but for the most part, they settled down when they saw that none of us humans were worried.

Brian and I spent the weekend working on house projects, cleaning the garage, gathering a load-and-a-half of stuff to take to Goodwill, and generally getting the house uncluttered. I had to clean all my beading stuff off the dining room table, and fortunately I had recently cleared out my yarn stash, so I had room to store it all (most of it, anyway) out of the way. That actually took nearly all weekend, because my brain seems to be so unfocused that I’d pick something up, carry it to the place it was getting put away, then I’d see something in that spot that needed taking care of, and deal with that, ad nauseum. We did cull our games closet, and also the linen closet, which has become a sort of personal products pantry. I got rid of some things that had been sitting around in there for years that were never used (curling iron, never used it then, don’t need it now!), and rearranged stuff into a more logical order. It also took a long time because I had to sit down and rest a lot.

The last couple weeks has been long – lots of waiting, still having excessive tiredness, and the same lung symptoms that have been bothering me since a couple weeks after I got over my cold.

I had my chest CT scan and the brain MRI on Tuesday the 24th. On the 26th, the triage nurse called to tell me the results.

The good news? There are no signs of metastasized cancer in my brain. The bad news? There is something on my pituitary gland that they wanted to get a better look at, so I needed to have a more hi-res MRI brain scan.

The other good news? No pulmonary embolisms. The other bad news? There are a couple enlarged lymph nodes in the middle of my chest that they wanted to get a better look at, so I needed to have a PET scan.

Had the PET scan Monday morning (the 30th), and the second MRI on Tuesday afternoon. I talked to the doctor on Thursday the 3rd, and I basically still don’t really know anything, and will have yet another medical procedure to go through.

The thing on my pituitary gland is a “cystic lesion, consistent with a benign arachnoid cyst”. That might explain why I’ve developed a serious gross-out factor about spiders the last few years. It used to be that I was only bothered by spiders that might be sneaking up on me – so crawling under the back deck was completely out of the question, because I was pretty sure there were spiders under there, and what if they dropped on me while I was under there? But now, I’m like “50s Girl”, I scream for the hubby to deal with any spider I see. He just rolls his eyes and squishes them – even squished they gross me out.

The likely outcome of this cyst is that unless I start developing neurological symptoms (such as seizures, peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in my extremities), headaches, neuralgia, or other indications that the cyst is growing or pressing on something critical), it will just sit there, wrapped around my pituitary gland, like Shelob in her lair.

The enlarged lymph nodes are of more concern. The PET scan showed that they were hot, or reactive. Basically, the radioactive sugar they inject you with will show areas with cells that have a high glucose uptake – which in my case means one of three things. The lymph nodes might be reacting to some sort of infection (so if I have bronchitis or walking pneumonia or something like that, they could be enlarged with infection-fighting cells of various kinds); they could be full of inflammatory cells; or they could be full of malignant cells.

The doctor doesn’t believe it is due to infection, since they’re almost twice as large as lymph nodes usually get under highly infectious conditions, and the relative mildness of my lung symptoms and little to no coughing imply that if I am fighting an infection like bronchitis or pneumonia, it is a very mild case.

At least some of my lung symptoms – the tightness and the shortness of breath upon activity, and pain that started this weekend, may be due to the lymph nodes pressing directly on the lungs, or on blood vessels that lead to the lungs, rather than anything actually in the lungs.

The only thing he mentioned in relation to the possibility of inflammatory cells being the cause of the enlargement is a disease called sarcoidosis. This is something that typically doesn’t require treatment unless you’re having severe symptoms (and looking at the Merck website, my symptoms do match some of the ones on the list, although I don’t know if they’d be considered severe). It usually goes away of its own accord, although it might take months or years.

He did not really focus on the possibility of cancer, although the location could be indicative of either Hodgkins Disease or some type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Probably not lung cancer, since they didn’t see anything in my lungs; and he says it is extremely unlikely that my lymph-node negative breast cancer could have spread, especially so soon after I finished chemotherapy.

He also says he is intrigued by my case, because now he’s starting to wonder if I really had pulmonary embolisms after all – maybe it was something relating to whatever is going on now with the lymph nodes. Of course, I was in denial about that anyway, so it’s easy to say that I never really believed I had pulmonary embolisms; but then, I didn’t have any good reason to believe I didn’t, just that I didn’t *want* to have them, so I tried to disbelieve them out of existence. Maybe it worked, too well.

So anyway, I get to have an endoscopic ultrasound biopsy – they’re going to sedate me and stick an endoscope down my esophagus, then poke a needle through into the lymph nodes. I don’t know yet when this is going to happen – I’d like to get it over with as soon as possible, of course.

2 Responses to “July 6, 2008”

  1. 1 David S.
    July 8, 2008 at 10:50 am

    What a drag! Hang in there.

  2. 2 Kevin
    July 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    You are a ray of light! Don’t ever forget that.

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