Thursday, February 4, 2010

Change of Plans

First of all, let me say that I have the most amazing friends and family EVER.  All of the comments, emails, etc., I've recieved since I launched my blog (and really since the start of this whole thing) have totally humbled me.  I feel very blessed.  So thank you, because you rock.

It has been an eventful couple of days.  Yesterday, I was scheduled for a MUGA scan at the hospital at 10am.  My sister likes to call this a "Muggle scan," and frankly, I prefer this name, though sadly, it has absolutely nothing to do with Harry Potter.  It's a test that measures the strength of my heart muscle, which is needed because one of the side effects of Herceptin (the drug they made the movie about) is that it weakens the heart muscle.  More on that later, though.

At 8:30am I got a call from Dr. Sara's office telling me that he would like to see me today and asking if I could come in after the MUGA scan.  This immediately freaked me out because I wasn't supposed to have an appointment with him, so I was worried about why he suddenly wanted to see me.  In addition to the abdomen MRI I had on Monday, I'd also had a brain MRI, because breast cancer can spread to the brain and he wanted to make sure it was clear.  So when I heard he wanted to see me yesterday, I was very scared that he was going to tell me the cancer was in my brain.

Luckily, I had asked a friend to come to the MUGA scan with me, and I was very grateful I'd done that because talking with her while in the waiting room kept my mind from reeling with all the scary possibilities of what news awaited me (thanks, Bern!).

Back to the MUGA scan... It's actually kind of a cool thing they do.  First, they draw blood.  This was easier said than done, though.  Let's just say that "oh sh*t what a mess" is not what you want to hear when someone is drawing blood.  I didn't watch because I was afraid my reaction would make it worse, but I think a valve or something broke and blood went everywhere, since they were frantically cleaning my arm.  They apparently fixed the problem, but couldn't get any blood to come out, so they ended up having to draw it from my hand (that's 2 needle sticks added to the tally). 

Anyway, after the blood had finally been successfully drawn, they treated it with some kind of radioactive isotope for about 30 minutes.  Then, they put the blood back in me, and I went under the "camera" (though it didn't look like a camera), and they take pictures of my heart, tracking the radioactive blood as it pumps through it.

After the MUGA scan, we went up to the 11th floor to see Dr. Sara.  First thing he said was that my brain MRI was clear - WHEW!  I do not have brain cancer, what a relief.  However, the abdomen MRI was a bit inconclusive.  There is a lesion on my liver (which we knew) but the MRI could not definitively say it is not cancer.  Dr. Sara said that it might be an adenoma, a benign lesion which can occur in women who take oral contraceptives.  But, I needed a liver biopsy to be sure.

He had already scheduled the liver biopsy for the following day (today), and chemo therefore got pushed back from Friday to next Wednesday, February 10th, since he wanted to give me a bit of recovery time after the liver biopsy.  Hence, the change of plans.

So, today my sister (who had come up from Maryland to visit me and go to what was supposed to be my first chemo treatment with me) and I woke up early to get to the hospital at 8am for the biopsy.  Sara had come prepared to show her support in a pretty awesome way (FYI she's 8 months pregnant):

We got to the hospital early, and they called me pretty quickly to ask me some questions and give me a wristband and a spot in the "holding area."  Luckily, Sara could be with me there because we ended up waiting until almost 11am before they took me downstairs for the procedure.  I felt like Rachel in that Friends episode where she's in the hospital to have her baby, but all these women keep coming and going and she's still there waiting.

They finally took me downstairs into another holding area.  The other patients in this holding area included one man making weird noises who had rolled over in his open-back gown, exposing his very swollen man parts, and another man who had Don King hair.  Sara promised that if I came out with Don King hair she'd comb it down for me.

Soon the doctors came in and explained the procedure to me.  It was a CT-guided liver biopsy.  They put a sticker on my abdomen and then did at CT scan to mark the exact spot where they would then  insert a needle into my liver to extract a tiny piece of the lesion.  I got a local anasthetic, as well as a mild sedative.  I didn't feel anything except the initial needle stick (yep, another one) for the lidocaine.

After the procedure, they brought me back downstairs and I had to stay there for 4 hours while they monitored me.  One of the risks of liver biopsy is internal bleeding, since there are some large blood vessels in the area.  Every hour, a nurse came to take my blood pressure, check my dressing and ask me if I was in any pain (I wasn't).  Sara and I passed the time chatting and reading and it really wasn't too bad at all.

I was discharged at about 4:00pm.  It was a long day and I was tired from getting up early and a little sore (the nurse said I would feel like I'd gotten punched in the stomach for a day or two), but otherwise feeling fine.

The doctor who did the procedure today said Dr. Sara would have the results next week, maybe by Monday.  Even though I'm anxious to get treatment started, I'm glad chemo got pushed back because today was pretty draining and I'm thankful to have a few days "off" from going to the hospital!


  1. I totally think that all of this sh*t you're going through sucks donkey balls. But, I have to say, I'm really, really glad you're not a vampire.

  2. Your blog is the best! Thank you for sharing your fight with us. We are here every step of the way! Sending smiles your way everyday!

    P.S. Bern....Sometimes I think Emily wishes she was a vampire because then she could be with Edward :-)

  3. I don't know anything about the vampire bit, but I do know Bern and if Bern says she's glad you're not a vampire, I'd have to say there's a reason for it.

    She also says you're awesome. And that you're in this new and incredibly BIG situation and handling it so brightly and suggested I come on by.
    And I have, and I'm glad.

    This will be hard. And it will suck.
    Only 4230983243.7 people have told you that.
    So, Duh. Enough of that crap.
    That can't really be helpful.

    But. Your attitude makes me want to give you a hug and put you in my pocket and make everything better.
    I'm not sure how the pocket would help, but maybe if it were a warm pocket on an extremelly cool jacket?

    I wish you the best - and will be sticking around... hope it doesn't freak you out to have strangers coming by...
    Lots of good thoughts and well wishes your way.


  4. (ummm... take extremelly and subtract one L. I apparently stutter-typed.)

  5. Hi Emily! Just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you! You go girl, Love Jess

  6. I'm so happy we got to spend the last couple of days together. I feel like we spent much of yesterday giggling and hanging out rather than being "a patient". Although I did see a lot more of some patients then should ever be allowed! You definitely handle everything with class and grace. I'd be up there for everything if I could but I will wear my tshirt often! Maybe I can make one for Snoop too.....Love ya!

  7. Hi Emily,

    I'm Liz, Kim and Jess' friend. Kim sent me your blog. We're all thinking about you down here in Baltimore.

  8. Hey Emille Shamille...,

    Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you all the time. I really enjoy reading this blog! Can't wait to see you soon!