Saturday, June 21, 2008

06/22/08 - Medical Update

Well, the last post about health insurance problems was intended to be this one, but grew into its own monster... So here is my medical update, in which some items may now be repeated.

I had a big medical appointment last Tuesday. Laura and I left home at 9:00AM and returned around 5:30PM. I had appointments for a check of my blood counts, an MRI of my head, an MRI of my spine, a spinal tap, and a meeting with my doctors to discuss the test results.

First, my blood counts. They were slowly headed up (good), but now some are heading down again (bad). My doctors think (hope?) that they will soon get on the right track and head upward. I updated the plots at the link to the right. The rightmost points are my most recent test results.

My liver counts had been high, and have returned to a more normal level, which is good news. Apparently, the chemotherapy was the cause of the high counts. Once again, they are updated at the link to the right.

My brain tumor, pre-op.

Above is an MRI image of the brain tumor that I was diagnosed with. Now, my doctors are using MRIs to make sure the tumor doesn't grow back. They are checking both my head and spine because my type of tumor typically only spreads (metastacizes) to CSF (Cerebral-Spinal Fluid) which is found in the brain and spine. The MRIs of my head follow, with the tumor location highlighted in green. These MRIs were clear.

MRIs of my head, 6/17/08 (click to enlarge).

The MRIs of my spine are below. Since the spine is long, they divide it into three separate MRIs : the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. Once again, the MRIs were clear of any regrowth. I'll take their word for that because differentiating between tumor regrowth and normal tissue will likely remain somewhat of a mystery for me...

MRIs of my spine, 6/17/08.

My doctors said that since my MRIs were clear, they didn't need to perform a spinal tap. I had a spinal tap shortly after my surgery to check for tumor mestastatization. A crude analogy is tapping a maple tree for sap (to make maple syrup). Some pictures of the initial (November 2006) spinal tap are below.

This is a spinal tap...

To summarize, my tests showed no signs of tumor regrowth. My blood counts are still too low, and some have even headed downward from my last blood test three weeks ago. They will be monitored until they come back up. My next major medical appointment, pretty much the same as this one, will be in three months. Until then, I should post about other topics...


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