Checking In

With 7 treatments done and only 3 left to go, I thought this might be a good time to evaluate where I am and what’s happening. There is, of course, extreme fatigue from the whole brain radiation. It comes and goes and isn’t constant, so that could be a plus I suppose. Although if it were constant I could at least plan a little better. The headache is no longer – and that’s a relief, not so much because of the lack of pain, but because it means the brain swelling is going down or is gone. I’m down to one steroid pill a day from 4 a day at the start and that is great news.

There is now a rather red area on the back of my neck in line with the 6th cervical spine, which is where the targeted radiation is being focused to deal with the metastatic tumor inside the spinal column. The pressure on the left ulnar nerve must be lessening because I’m able to mostly use my left hand without any problem, except for my fingers stumbling over themselves when I’m typing sometimes. But i’ve noticed that as long as I keep a steady pace and don’t race, I do okay.

I’ve also had somewhat of a dry throat. It’s not sore exactly, just dry and croaky. And the inside of my right cheek and on the gums seems to develop transient sores and bumps. Nothing intolerable to this point, so all I can do is check it out daily to see if it’s better, worse, or the same.

There are a couple of things I find interesting, though. I don’t have much cognitive deficit at the moment; my brain does feel full of cotton balls at times. The worst thing I’ve noticed for the last 2 or 3 days is an intense craving for salt. I’ve always liked salty foods – like my inclination to eat anchovies straight from the jar – but this is so much more intense. I’m trying to pace my salt intake with plenty of fluids but today we ran out of sea salt and I had to resort to cayenne pepper to soothe the craving. This is quite weird. I’m not sure of the mechanism that’s causing the salt craving, but I’ll research as I’m able. And then there’s the “listing to port” when I walk (or is it starboard? whatever, I’m a little lopsided!) That comes and goes, too. Now I know that some of these effects will go away, some won’t, and some might appear that haven’t yet – that’s the nature of whole brain radiation. All I can do right now is compensate as best I can, and stay vigilant to see what comes, what goes, and what stays the same.

Onward and upward.

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A New Adventure

Today I had an MRI of my brain and cervical spine. It went well with the IV sedation, although the nurse had to give me another dose as it started to wear off too soon. Since they were viewing two areas, it took quite a while. I was planning on getting the results tomorrow at my regular treatment appointment. But we had only been home a few minutes when my PA called. The radiologist had called her to let her know they saw multiple metastases in my brain. She apologized for telling me over the phone but didn’t want to wait until tomorrow’s appointment. The radiologist was surprised that I wasn’t having horrendous headaches. But I’ve had no symptoms, unless the problems with my hand are related to that. So now it’s time for brain radiation. A whole new adventure! And it means I’m back on the Dexamethasone but twice a day for now to reduce brain swelling and prevent seizures.

We will keep our appointment with the PA tomorrow as I still need my flu shot and possibly my regular blood work. Then on Wednesday we have an appointment with a radiation oncologist to plan the next step.

This was not what I wanted to hear, but I wasn’t surprised, I sort of knew, just like I knew I had lung cancer before my doctor told me.

So once again Onward and Upward.