Renal Cell Live!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From Beyond The Grave

No, not my own! I've been quiet recently as not much has been happening, other than the arrival - at last - of spring. We're hosting several pairs of tree swallows and a pair of bluebirds, plus have recently been seeing flickers in the yard below the feeders (get those ants! Get 'em! Get 'em!)

I'm writing in complete and utter frustration. It seems that my ex-husband, who committed suicide last fall, left behind more than sadness and regret. He also left behind unpaid debts. I'm now getting calls from collection agencies, eager to locate "beneficiaries." First, we separated acrimoniously in 1983. Do the math, that's twenty-five years ago. Second, we divorced in 1984. That's twenty-four years ago. Apart from an unpleasant post card I received shortly after we separated (he was sniping about some stuff he'd left behind when he moved out, like that was my fault) I hadn't exchanged a word with him since October, 1983. I heard about his death through friends of my brother's; I lost track of his family years ago.

I realize the economy is bad and debt collection is on the upswing; some of these companies are absolutely ruthless, from what I've heard. I can only guess that they've tried - and failed - to recover money from his widowed, invalid mother and his brother and sister. They'd best not think they can come after me. Give me a break.

Just when I thought the bastard was safely in his grave, he still has the power to make everyone associated with him miserable. I only hope that I can get these jerks off my tail.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

One Thing Leads To Another

Last week we trekked to Cleveland Clinic for the usual scans and appointments. This time there's no unqualified "stable" report, I'm sorry to say; rather, there was a tiny bit of growth in 3 lesions. It's not enough to force me off Nexavar, thank goodness, but it's the first that we've seen for over 2 years.

I'm always let in for a battery of standard labwork. Once in a while either Dr. G or Dr. SC will decide to follow one set of results with more investigation. I don't think it's from alarm on their part, but rather a desire to know more completely what's going on with me.

This time, Dr. G zeroed in on MCV (mean cell volume) - my levels indicate that my red blood cells are smaller than the norm. This could be from internal bleeding (on a microscopic level) or from anemia. My money's on anemia, given my history, but I'm undergoing a stool card test just to be sure. If those results are positive I suppose I'll have to go the endoscopy and colonoscopy route.

If negative, I suppose I'll be looking around for tools to boost my iron count. That remedy will be determined by finding something that doesn't interfere with absorption of other medications. Sometimes I feel like we're doing an enormous jigsaw puzzle without having the picture on the box for reference ...

Emma's birthday sweaterI passed along the sweater I'd made for Dr. G's baby's first birthday. It's only 4 months late; I wasn't finished with it by her birthday, and I forgot to take it to the January appointment. Fortunately I'm certain it's something she'll have to grow into anyway. I'm told that her favorite color is purple - mine too!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Port Complications

Well, how did you celebrate March's exit? No matter what you did, I'll bet your celebrations were more festive than mine. I spent most of the day at OSU's Doan Hall bouncing from reception area to lab to waiting room to lab and back, undergoing the prescribed C/T and bone scans. It's been a long time since I've had a day devoted to tests - the process hasn't changed, but my usual routine of knitting and reading helped pass the time pleasantly.

Both tests involve a fair amount of sitting-around "quality time." For the C/T, of course, I have to swill my favorite beverage Redi-Cat before the scan. For the bone scan, a radioactive medium is administered 3 hours prior to the test so that it can be absorbed by the bones. Irregularities in the bones then show up as "hot spots", so I'm challenged to recite the catalog of breaks, fractures, and arthritis accurately (eek).

This time I found that my Mediport posed unexpected problems. OSU hospitals will no longer use a port when administering C/T contrast media (see this article for the story behind this decision). A different problem arises for the bone scan; when administered through a port, the medium tends to pool, and can produce a false positive - the last thing one wants.

I had the C/T scan without the contrast medium, and we compromised for the bone scan by using the port and taking additional exposures of the ribcage. I may be selfish, but I'm more than happy to spend that extra half hour in the scanner to avoid being poked to no avail.

We're off to Cleveland Clinic on Friday for the usual round of appointments. I'm curious to see if CCF also restricts using ports for C/T contrast. Inquiring minds, and all that ... stay tuned.