Gotta admit I have a love-hate-love relationship with this machine. But today I totally LOVE it. Another “all clear” PET scan today. So fucking relieved, so very very happy. Still can’t believe it. Spent the afternoon celebrating, now off to spend the evening at a work event. There will be jamón! xx
courgetti with garlicky-bacony tomato sauce
Day three! Final day of PET scan prep and the no-carb-no-booze diet. And as you can see, I have been eating rather well. Wouldn’t want to eat like this forever, but I may start taking regular “carb & booze breaks” from now on. Or even just have the occasional no-carb-no-booze day. I actually had way more ideas for great non-carb things to make than I had time for.
I only realized yesterday that I also wasn’t supposed to be drinking caffeine (!!) but apparently that’s more important during that last 24-hour stage, which is today. I certainly won’t make a habit of drinking green tea for breakfast, and a couple of times I would have LOVED a glass of wine (especially when out and about) but it really hasn’t been a big deal.
chicken garam masala with lots of veggies
Anyhow, looking forward to having some toast tomorrow! The usual routine is that I get the scan done between 8 and 10 in the morning. Then I go for breakfast in the cafeteria while they check the images. Sometimes I have to go through the machine a second time, sometimes I don’t. After that, I’ll get my results. I’m so nervous! See you on the other side…
Well, it says just for 24 hours before an FDG PET, but I’m giving it three days. And frankly, after a full-on weekend in Antequera, I’d probably be doing this anyhow. So until Thursday morning I’ll be eating light, without wine, and BEING A NERVOUS WRECK. Scanxiety strikes again… fingers crossed!
Not exactly a song this Sunday, though we do have music in this video thanks to my fabulous friend Juan Tarquini (who put the whole thing together for me). Four years ago today my dear friend Pat Steer died. I met her on a cancer forum back in 2008 after we’d both been diagnosed with stage 4 variations of colon/rectal/liver, etc. And she became not just a friend but my sister and my hero, the no-nonsense voice of reason, the one I knew would never bullshit me, the one who loved me too.
Just before Pat died she expressed sadness in her final blog post about (amongst other things) not having ever been able to come on one of my tapas tours, so I obliged by going all around town to some of my favourite places and (badly) filming a typical tapeo with her included.
Juan did his best with the mess of clips I left with him, and Pat said it took her at least four times to get through it, because she kept breaking down in tears. But finally she watched it all and loved it. And I still love her and always will. Four years ago today I lost her, and I still miss her so very much. Strong thoughts, my darling. xx
THIS is what I ended up drinking instead of Tío Pepe en Rama today! But I’m getting ahead of myself. What happened was that after a lazy Sunday I settled down with Morcilla to watch some Netflix and have a late lunch (roasted cauliflower and parmesan noodles) and about an hour later I started feeling sharp pains in my upper abdomen. It got so bad that I had to go lie down, and after awhile the vomiting started. This lasted all night and by morning I was in so much pain I could barely stand up. Yep, it was time to go to Emergency.
When I got there I had my belly prodded and was immediately x-rayed, had blood taken, and was given an intravenous blast of painkiller (phew!). And about an hour or so later I was told the dreaded news that I would be staying in for Observation. They suspected an obstruction and, given my history, didn’t want to take any chances. I had been hoping it was my hernia acting up, but the doctor said the hernia wasn’t “presenting as a problem”. She said it was more likely the adhesions, but that they wanted to rule out, you know, CANCER. So I was wheeled over to Observation, where I put on my gown and got into bed. Luckily by this time the vomiting had stopped otherwise I would have had to have the super-dreaded NASOGASTRIC tube stuck down me in order to ingest the liquid you see above (a contrast agent for the second x-ray, for comparison with the first). Imagine licorice-flavoured snot…
Long story short, the second x-ray didn’t show anything alarming and by this time I had had a BM (more proof there wasn’t a serious obstruction anywhere) and was told that if I was fine (no vomiting) after having a snack, then I could go home. I also got to see the surgeon who had performed all my ops. But I was already counting the minutes – being in the Observation is not an experience I would wish on anybody – so when they suggested I also stay for dinner just to be sure I PROMISED I would come back immediately if there was the slightest return of the previous symptoms. And so they let me go.
What a Monday. I was supposed to have gone to the presentation of this year’s Tío Pepe en Rama, which has become something of a tradition. But to be honest, I was just so relieved that nothing was seriously wrong, and so happy to be back home with the cats, that missing the event didn’t seem so important. I’m supposed to stick to a bland diet for awhile as they are still not sure what caused the temporary obstruction. But as you can see below, adhesions are quite nasty things to have, and can cause all kinds of painful (and sometimes deadly) mayhem. Since I have had four major abdominal surgeries you can imagine the mess that’s going on in there. There is a chance of having some of the adhesions removed, but as this would involve another surgery, it will probably end up with more adhesions later on anyhow. Will have to seek some medical advice about this.
Continuing with the “tradition of hope” that began back on January 3rd 2009 when I posted my first ever Photohunt entry. The theme that week was “hope” and I put up a photo of my daybook turned to January 3rd 2010 with the words “STILL HERE!” written on it. I had finished a second stint on chemo just a few months previously and hoping felt like a very bold thing to do. Since then I have posted a similar photo on this date and – as ever – I hope with all my heart that I’ll be here to turn the page and see this next year.
Since I joined the “5 Year Club” marking five cancer-free years I am now down to one PET scan a year (instead of every 6 months) but I still feel just as tentative writing this as I always have. So I hope to see you back here for Hope 2018.
I met Ann Larson a couple of years ago and we hit it off. But you know, she lives in fucking Yunquera, beyond Ronda, so never knew if we would manage to get together again. Then Ann got cancer. And it turned out she liked talking to me about all that shit, because (you know!) I don’t talk shit about that shit. So we became good friends, but only saw each other again today in Málaga. This is us after 4 glasses of Botani – really the only time I can be convinced to do a selfie. Check out Anne’s fabulous line of natural beauty and skin care products that she makes herself, called Lujos. You know you want some.
Today I had to go see my new oncologist. Which wasn’t nerve-wracking as I had already got the ALL CLEAR good news results just after my most recent PET scan a couple of weeks ago. Some of you may recall that a few years ago my then oncologist totally misread my results and told me I only had a year to live. The asshat hadn’t even seen the biopsy report, she just handed out a death sentence. After that I started seeing the sub-director of Oncology, and that was great. I could talk to her, she got things done, and all tests went smoothly. Until she got cancer!
And so last year I was told that after this year’s PET scan I would be transferred back to my original oncology group. Well, okay. Except I walked into the office this afternoon and I swear there were two 14-year-olds sitting there. And their idea was that I should have a CT scan in 6 months and, if that went well, I would continue with annual CT scans. WTF? I told them that last year (after reaching the five year cancer free point) I’d been told I would be having PET-CT scans anually, and they said “BY WHO?”… honestly, they couldn’t have been more unprofessional (caught one of them giggling at me as I was getting up to leave). Anyhow, we have left it that they would get in touch with Nuclear Medicine and sort out the next step of my future scans. Meanwhile, I’d rather be getting the PET-CT scans, wouldn’t you?
I came across this the other day whilst thinking about scanxiety, and at first I thought, hey yeah, that’s cool. But then I thought, hey wait a minute.
I agree with the bit that talks about the things that cause our anxiety have already happened (so saying not to worry about things that will never happen obviously does not work here). And I agree with the part that says it’s about remembering. Because it did happen to me. Again and then again. So you know, why wouldn’t it happen yet again?
Which brings me to the part I disagree with “it’s not so much about worrying.” Sorry, for me it’s TOTALLY about worrying. And fretting, and second-guessing, and hoping, and regretting, and even panicking. Hey, it happened before, it can happen again. Why is that so hard to understand? And all those well meaning people who say “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”… I kind of wish they wouldn’t say that. I know it’s not meant as such but it feels a bit like being given the brush off. That I am worrying about nothing. Really? If your cancer came back twice would you honestly and truly believe it would never come back again? That there is nothing to worry about? Think again.
So what’s the best thing to say to someone terrified about the possible outcome of yet another PET scan? Well, how about whatever is real for you? That you have no idea what I’m going through but you are hoping for the best. That you will get on the next plane if it all goes tits up. That you’ve been through this yourself and it’s totally shit and you’ll be waiting for me on the other side of the results. And even that you care a lot but simply don’t know what to say – that’s all totally okay and also totally understandable.
But please don’t tell me not to worry. Or that of course I will be okay. Though in fact, it turns out I am okay this time, at least for now. Yesterday’s PET scan was ALL CLEAR. And I’m still processing this. It will take a few days before I allow myself to feel all that happy relief. Or rather, I will dole it out bit by bit… once you have almost died you learn to savour things, so this happy joy of once again dodging a cancer bullet should keep me going until at least Christmas. After that, it will be life as usual again. Or at least as usual as it ever is for cancer survivors. Hey, thanks for listening. xx
The prep-room at the hospital. My appointment was at 3.00 today and l arrived right on time, expecting to wait at least an hour before my name was called. Five minutes later l was undressing in the prep-room and waiting for the nurse to stick a shunt in my hand (just in case). Turns out all the prep (blood test, no eating, NO WATER for 8 hours) was just in case that happily wasn’t necessary. There was some serious stabby pain when the local anaesthetic was jabbed into my chest, but other than that it was a breeze. The whole procedure took about seven minutes.
My only regret was that I didn’t get a photo of my ex-port lying in the pan. After all, we’d lived together for almost six years. In fact, I asked after I’d got dressed again and the nurse said “oooh, you should have asked straight away, we’ve thrown it into the bin now”. Apparently they didn’t think this was a weird request. In fact, I’d had a couple of other questions for them, prefacing with “I hope you don’t mind…” and they were lovely. The surgeon said there were no silly questions and that it was important that I felt at ease. ALL women on this team today. Not to say that men can’t be understanding, but when you’re yanking something out from between someone’s breasts I’m guessing there’s just a bit more empathy there with women.
First thing I did after I got out of there was drink two huge glasses of water. And this evening I’m just chillin’ at home with the cats and feeling so glad to have this over and done with. Until October. Turns out I only get a 6 month hospital break this time after all (the 6-month PET would’ve been in March) but if all goes well in October then I will get an entire year off from hospital visits. Wow. Seriously wow.