Annual Checkup In Houston

Posted by Casey on April 20th, 2008


I just spent the last week with Dad in Houston for an extensive series of appointments that made up my first annual checkup in Houston. It’s been about a year since I finished radiation, and combining that with my continued monitoring of bone, colon, and general well-being, it became pretty intense!

On Tuesday we flew down to warm, sunny Houston. Upon arriving, we went outside to play a little Farkel, knowing that about an hour later I needed to start prepping for my colonoscopy on Wednesday morning. Chugging Fleet phosphosoda is not as thrilling as it sounds, trust me. I spent the evening on the toilet, after a day of not being able to eat a single bite of food. And I continued that process again at 4:00 the next morning. By the time the appointment came, I was anxious to get knocked-out so they could get it done with. I don’t really remember meeting with the doctor afterward, but according to the printed report, and Dad’s description, they found a polyp and removed it for a biopsy, but are of the opinion that it is not cancerous. They also shared photos that I have in my documentation, though I’ll spare you all. I’ll be receiving the results this week.

I was just happy to finally make it through the day and be able to eat a meal again. According to my weigh-in the next day, I had lost two and a half pounds in the previous two days. Eeek.

Thursday was completely filled with appointments. Bloodwork, bone-scan injection, EEG, bone scan, MRI, abdominal ultrasound, etc. From 8:00am til 5:30pm we were booked solid, and another day went by where I wasn’t even able to eat (except for a granola bar that morning).

On Tuesday I had bought Dad and I tickets to the Astros game as our reward for the stressful week. I assumed Thursday was going to be the worst, since Friday was only two doctors appointments (at 10 and 11am) and a cognitive test at 2:00. But the day quickly turned south. At my appointment with Dr. Wolff, I was told that they were requesting a chest x-ray due to a possible “pleural effusion” behind my lungs that was detected on my ultrasound. The x-ray would confirm if there was something there or not. Luckily, it came back negative.

I was then told that the bone scan had a couple of spots that they noticed in my left leg (full leg, not the amputated one). He showed me the scan, and there are three spots, just below the knee, and the top of my foot, and all were highlighted on the scan. He checked these areas for any pain, and asked if I’ve had any bumps lately. No pain. No bumps. His initial opinion is that the foot isn’t an issue, and that the others in my leg may be the result of a stress fracture, but that he was ordering an MRI to get a better look. More frustrating news.

Strangely, my brain was the least of our conversations. The MRI showed no change. That’s the best news I could hope for!

I went to meet with Dr. Slopis, who informed me that I had a seizure during my EEG. I wasn’t aware of it when it happened, but it was recorded no less. So we discussed stress and any symptoms I’ve been having in recent months. I’ve been having mild symptoms occasionally, and a couple of seizures, but at a level that hasn’t caused any concern. My options are to up my medication or try new meds, and both of these run their own risks (feeling cloudy-minded or having new side-effects from new drugs), and both Dr. Slopis and I agree that unless things worsen, I’ll stay with my current meds and just continue documenting any occurrences. We also just discussed stress in general, it was a good conversation, and it reminded me of how much adoration I have for him. Between him and Dr. Wolff, I definitely feel that I’m being looked out for.

By the time I was done with this appointment, it was nearing the start of my cognitive test. Dad and I raced off for some quick lunch before my two hour appointment. We were also informed that my leg MRI would be FRIDAY NIGHT AT 9:00pm!! Obviously this overlapped the Astros game, which was what I was needing to deal with this stress. I was also surprised to know they even scheduled stuff this late.

After the cognitive test, which was the standard interview/test process, we checked to see if we could get an MRI earlier. It was nearing 4:30. We were told to head over and check in early. The woman at the desk made it seem like we could get in early, but by the time I was called back, it was nearly 6:00. Still, I thought we might have a chance. A standard MRI is about 45 minutes (through my years and years of experience). I assumed we’d just be a bit late to the game. I raced to get my gown on, and onto the MRI table. Unfortunately, it all went downhill when they realized that my leg is too long to scan in one process and that it would have to be done in two parts. UGHH! I could only stare at the ceiling for two incredibly, ridiculously long and boring
hours, knowing that we could only catch the end of the game, at best. When the scan was finally done, and I met up with Dad (who had just settled in for a nap), we had both surrendered to the fact that the game wasn’t gonna happen. Instead, Mission Burritos were in order. A tasty treat to take the stress of Friday away. It was nice to have the week over with.

Now I wait for results of 1) the colon biopsy, 2) the leg MRI, and 3) the cognitive testing. I’ll be receiving all of that this week… hopefully sooner rather than later, as it’s causing a bit of stress and fear. The doctors have said that these are more just to double-check. But I’ve been there before. Still, I’m trying to think positive.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated once I know all the news. Until then, think good thoughts. Hope you are all doing well, and enjoying this beautiful weather. I went for a bike ride today and couldn’t get enough of it.

Love you.

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