I just returned from another trip to Houston. I arrived Wednesday night at midnight to the steamiest, nastiest humidity to date, and stayed through what turned out to be some incredibly beautiful weather before leaving on Saturday. It was partly a routine visit — the usual MRI and neuro-oncologist visit — but also had some more extensive testing with cognitive doctors and my surgeon.
Thursday morning, after about three hours of sleep, I was up at 5:00 and preparing for the day’s appointments. By 6:30 I was in the MRI and quickly fell asleep despite the constant hammering of the machine. I was exhausted, and wished it would have lasted more than 30 minutes!
Once it was finished, I went to give some blood for various tests, and then had some free time to grab some breakfast. Later that morning I went to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Weinberg. It was great to see him walk through the door and immediately inform me that there weren’t noticeable changes on the MRI. As always, this is as good as the news can be. No changes, no growth, nothing to be concerned with. He walked me through the areas where the tumor wasn’t removable and was instead radiated and explained what they’re watching for. It was a chance to breathe easy.
That afternoon I had mostly free, and I went home and took a four hour nap… finally able to catch up on the sleep I didn’t get the night before. That evening I grabbed dinner, stopped for some Amy’s Ice Cream (the BEST!), and went to see Michael Clayton. It was a fantastic movie, and I highly recommend it. I also made it to bed a little earlier than the previous night.
Friday started at 9:30 with an appointment with the cognitive team. These are always lengthy meetings, starting with good conversation about any struggles I’m having, and leading into the actual testing… memory tests of various forms. We discussed work issues, stress level, memory loss, and how those things affect me. It’s great to have someone who knows exactly what I’m going through, instead of having to convince them. That was actually the key of the discussion… I’m starting to look and act normal, but I still have big memory and energy loss issues. The appointment left me feeling stronger, and the doctor is going to supply me with some recommended therapists that I can speak with in Minneapolis regarding tips to work with these issues and how to avoid letting stress build.
While waiting for my last appointment of the day, which was in pediatrics, I met a woman whose daughter (a shy 14 year old) has osteosarcoma. A nurse had just stepped out to let her know that the daughter’s blood count was high enough to go out in the public and go shopping. They knew it was something to celebrate. They’re from Hawaii and are going to be in Houston for a couple months. I congratulated both of them and we got into a conversation about our experiences. I told them that I had fought osteosarcoma three times, had lost my leg, and some of the other stuff I’d been through. We discussed how amazing M.D. Anderson is, and that it’s the best place for her and her daughter to be. It suddenly dawned on me that she might be seeing Dr. Anderson, my old doctor. And just as I mentioned it, he came through the doors to speak with them and saw me there. He introduced me to some new doctors as the longest living patient from high-level samarium treatment, and even used the word hero. I let it go straight to my head… I was feeling rather proud. And the mom joined in and congratulated me. I congratulated her and her daughter again. They’ve got amazing strength and I can’t wait to see her win.
Dr. Anderson invited me to an annual ski trip for survivors with disabilities. It’s in January, and I plan on taking him up on the offer. What an incredible opportunity to meet up with people who’ve gone through similar experiences and share what we’ve accomplished.
I said goodbye to Dr. Anderson and asked to exchange info with the mom and daughter. They’ve invited me to meet up with them in Hawaii sometime and I hope I get to take them up on it. I wish them the absolute best.
My last major appointment of the day was with Dr. Slopis, who has quickly become one of my favorites. I’ve always felt incredibly comfortable talking to him about anything I’m dealing with, be it stress, anxiety, moodiness, and other concerns. He reaffirmed Dr. Weinberg’s opinion that my scan looks no different and that it is reason to celebrate. We spent some time talking about various concerns and he provided answers.
After the appointment, I had the rest of the day to get out and enjoy the beautiful sunny day. It was the perfect end to a great check-up in Houston. I’m still waiting to hear when I need to return… either December or February. And I’ll also need to start planning my annual checkups for bone scans and a colonoscopy. Those will happen in Minneapolis in the next couple months. I’ll keep you posted!
Hope you’re all well. Love you