So when you’re fighting a battle like this, there’s lots of poking and prodding and sticking and scanning. The doctors have to find out just how far the bastardized cells have advanced throughout the body and the only way to find this out is through lots of tests.
After learning from the neurologist that the first MRI indicated brain bleeds and the second MRI with contrast indicated tumors, Mama was referred to Dr. deGroot, a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson. We met with him, not really knowing for sure what he would say. One thing about MD Anderson physicians — they do not waste any time. He explained to us that surgery was really out of the question because of the number of tumors. I can’t remember if it was my mama or my sister, but one of them said “No. We don’t want that. No one wants swiss cheese for a brain.” The analogy is a bit shocking, but Dr. deGroot nodded his head and said, “That’s true.” After he explained a few more things, we were scheduled right then to head to the diagnostics department for bloodwork, followed by a CT Neck scan, and an MRI with contrast of Mama’s entire spine. Our appointment with Dr. deGroot was before lunch, and we did not get home from the hospital until after midnight. We were not expecting that at all. My sister was scheduled to work that evening and since we’d ridden together in the same car, my husband came up to the hospital from Lake Jackson to pick her up and make sure she made it to work on time.
The next day Mama and I went back to the hospital for more CT scans. Fortunately they were scheduled for the afternoon/evening, so that gave her an opportunity to get some rest before another long day at the hospital. One of the things we’ve noticed the last few days: Mama gets chilled really easily, at home and in the hospital. This is strange for someone who has always been very warm-natured. We learned that they keep the hospital colder than “normal” because it actually helps to minimize germ activity and reduce infections. To counter the chilly temps, patients are able to get warm blankets from just about any department they may be visiting. At first she didn’t want to take a blanket — but after asking her numerous times, she finally decided to take one and discovered that was a pretty nice thing to have. While we were sitting there — Mama snuggled up in her warm blanket and me fanning my face due to a “private summer” moment, we started laughing. Talk about roles being reversed! The nurse who started her IV for the contrast was really sweet and Mama visited with her while she diligently tried to find a vein without causing Mama too much pain. She told Mama that she’d seen over forty patients that day and of the forty, only four, including Mama, had been able to laugh.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. — Nehemiah 8:10
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a joy pill?
She had a few days off after the tests last week, and we met with a couple of doctors on Tuesday who explained all the results of the tests. This was the day that we found out just how many “aliens” (as Mama likes to call them) are residing in her noggin, and also learned of the spots on her lungs. Because she was originally treated for melanoma, she met with a melanoma oncologist first. Dr. Amaria explained the nature of the cancer and then explained what different treatment options are available. She then explained that Mama would see a neurosurgeon, even though surgery is not on the table of possible treatments. It appears all these doctors consult with each other so as to ensure nothing is missed, both disease-wise and treatment-wise. Dr. Ferguson was the neurosurgeon who visited with us and discussed our mama’s situation, confirming and expanding upon what Dr. Amaria said.
At one point my sister started to ask a question and lost her train of thought. After a second, she asked Dr. Ferguson, “Do you give family discounts?”
Sometimes you just have to laugh…