Friday, June 19, 2015

De-Liver Me Tour ~ Fashionista Update ~ June 15, 2015

O'Dark Thirty: We left home at 5:45 am to get to UCSF by 7:30. Time to take care of some unfinished business. There is a small residual hepatocellular carcinoma near one of my existing tumors, Audrey or Carmine that needs to be decommissioned with another TACE. 

Live Entertainment: After registering, you change into a fetching ensemble of mismatched pants, gown, robe and slipper socks and then get to park your butt in the waiting room until called. It's a chuckle for all patients, no matter how nervous they might be about what's ahead. This of course is my 7th rodeo so I'm leading the pack vamping it up for photos.

 

The Nerve Center: Next stop is the six bed nerve center where nurses are prepping patients for procedures or taking care of patients just returning from said procedures: resting up until they're released or moved to rooms. It's a fine tuned operation of controlled chaos with a team of nurses who keep the impossible moving smoothly. They all love what they do and it shows.

Flame Fractal Image - Chaos - Mathematical Art
Chaos

Stumping the Professionals: Sometimes things don't go as planned. I spent 3 hours in the procedure room with the resident intern, my doctor and then the head of the Interventional Radiology Department. They were a determined trio, but the location of the small tumor prevented them from reaching their destination to do the TACE. Time was called and I returned to the "nerve center" where I started out this morning. Standard protocol is that you have to spend 6 hours flat on your back to make sure the incision in in your groin doesn't bleed. Once given some pain medication for my shoulder (often a side effect of liver exploration) I could relax and take it all in. It was at times noisy, entertaining, poignant and uplifting. They finally let me up to dress around 5 pm so I could be released.

Rod's Story: For Rod the whole day was a waiting game. He did get a three mile walk in, treated himself to a good lunch, took a nap, did some reading and listened the Giants game. Trooper Boy. 

Lost in Translation: When he returned at 5:15 to pick me up he told the front desk that he knew where I was (he'd met with my doctor and seen me when I came back from the procedure). However, the reception desk's records said I'd been moved up to the new overnight accommodations on the sixth floor. They weren't about to let him wander down the hall until they'd confirmed my whereabouts. He said the supervisor was getting really frustrated because no one was answering upstairs and some of numbers on their call sheet were incorrect. Amused at the confusion he just kept quiet and watched it play out until one of the recovery room nurses came down the hall to fetch him. A small comedy of errors that I reckon has been set straight by now. 

Never leave the City during the Commute: We get on the road about 5:45 never the time to be heading north out of San Francisco. It was a freaking zoo, I cannot believe humans do this everyday. After almost getting caught up in a potential accident we got smart and stopped at the Wild Fox Restaurant near Novato for a bite to eat and watch the beginning of the NBA playoffs. By the time we hit the road again, there was no traffic and we were home in time for the second half of the game to watch the Warriors spank the Cavaliers. 

Plan B: Acronym of the Day: My docs decided that Plan B would be Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy or SBRT. There are two facilities that provide the service, Kaiser South San Francisco and UCSF. My docs at UCSF want me to continue to be treated there and are already working with my local Kaiser to get the approvals. We have plans for August in Canada and I want to get this party started.

I'm just learning about the treatment but it means that a specially designed coordinate-system is used for the detecting the exact location of the tumor in the liver and it's then treated with a limited but highly precise single dose of radiation. Non invasive, few side effects. More on this as I get better informed. 


Post Script: We got home to find a small bag hanging on the front door. In it was ceramic spirit bear made by my neighbor Khysie. There are no words for the circle of friends who surround and support us. He resides in a special place to watch over us.