Saturday, February 24, 2007

The consultation

I had my consultation Friday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
The surgeon recommended I get a CT scan to see precisely where in my chest this parathyroid tumor is located, and what would be involved in going after it insofar as the surrounding healthy tissue is concerned.

This tumor, an unremoved remnant of a growth excised in 2005, actually shows up on scans much more distinctly than the one that was taken out. It's as bright as a summer fireworks display. The fact that it is so close to my aorta is a big factor in deciding whether to go after it. Any complications in that part of the chest could be disastrous. A CT scan would give a much better assessment of the odds for success. Indeed, location is everything.

In the meantime, I'm to receive an intravenous infusion Tuesday of a drug meant to lower my serum calcium level. The CT scan would follow sometime afterward, say, in the next several weeks (or sooner if the IV medication doesn't work as hoped).

Meanwhile, my nightmares continue unabated. They generally occur in the minutes just before I wake up in the morning, and they're especially vivid. These factors make them especially easy to remember.
The dreams seem connected to increases in my serum calcium level. On a few rare occasions, they're rather inocuous dreams, but mostly they're nightmares. I don't think they're tied to anxiety on my part about the progress of this illness because, luckily, I can generally keep it together emotionally when confronted with those realities. Then again, all this "keeping it together" may have created a need for some release, which might explain the nightmares.

But the funny thing is that in these nightmares, I see elements of my personality being depicted precisely the way they are in "real" life. That is to say, when I wake up and remember enough of the details of the dream to reach such a conclusion, I find myself saying, "Yup, that's the way I would've acted. They did a great job in central casting."

I'm grateful for these insights into myself, these mirrors on who I am (outwardly, anyway).


east village idiot said...


So they just may be able to take that motherf*cker out of you - which is good news. I'm going to pray that your tumor can be removed. I wish you had some fat on you that jammed between the tumor and aorta. I feel hopeful about this news.

Speaking of fat, this is the year of the golden pig or the lucky pig, correct? So let's get all this straightened out this year. I want to hear about you dating a bleached blonde with big boobs in 2008! :)

Stay strong and keep us posted Michael!


Michael said...

Ha, EVI, that's funny! :))

Seriously, thanks for your prayers. They're powerful stuff.

Taking out the tumor isn't the real trick; getting it all out is. Parathyroid tumors are notoriously difficult to remove, because microscopic pieces of them often get left behind. They're made of very viscous stuff that's difficult to remove at the best of times. Plus, even microscopic remnants can still exert a powerful influence on one's biochemistry.

And during my last operation, the surgeons knew they had to leave a small piece of the tumor behind because it was so close to vital pulmonary tissue. Trying to get it all, plus some surrounding tissue just to be safe, would have been impossible given where it was.

I remain hopeful, though, if not as hopeful as, say, two years ago. The goal is to keep me ticking until better drugs or more effective surgical procedures can be developed.

Matt Kohai said...

I'm with EVI on this - both the tumor and the blonde with the big boobs.

Anonymous said...

Nightmares are a bitch! I hope you are getting enough sleep in spite of them.

Michael said...

Luckily, I'm getting enough sleep. My feeling is the dreams will subside when I receive the intravenous medication.

Carolyn said...

Hi Michael,

This is a powerful blog, and I've only read a little. There's a rope of strength running through it that's helped me get to know you a little better. You're right, I never would have guessed that you were ill. We shall talk more about this. I'm going to sit now and I'll send some compassion your way.

Michael said...

Hey Carrie,

Many thanks for stopping by!!

I've really appreciated the creative outlet and anxiety release this blog has given me since I started it in 2005.

Comments from wonderful people have kept me going.