Friday, 30 January 2009

Realisation as Lymphoma becomes Reality.

Wednesday, had a phone call from the hospital regarding the results of the multidisciplinary hearing, the nurse on the phone said it was lymphoma and that I was being referred to the relevant department and I would be contacted shortly. I knew it was coming, but somehow then it became reality and I had to deal with it. Was very upset after the phone call but managed to pull myself together for the evening because I went to see Chelsea vs. Middlesborough. I think Chelsea won so that was OK.

Thursday I heard from the specialist lymphoma nurse at the hospital and she said they wanted me in for a biopsy the next day. Although they knew that it was lymphoma, they needed to determine what type it was to tailor the treatment.

The next day came around all to quickly and I was back at the hospital, this time to have a biopsy, definitely the most scary procedure to date! 'A biopsy is a medical test involving the removal of cells or tissues for examination. It is the removal of tissue from a living subject to determine the presence or extent of a disease. The tissue is generally examined under a microscope by a pathologist, and can also be analyzed chemically'.

The biopsy was taken from the lump in my thigh. The doctor had already looked at my CT scans and decided on the area he was going to biopsy. He said he wasn't sure if the lump was a lymph node or not because it was in a slightly unusual place, but we decided to biopsy anyway and if it wasn't we would deal with that bridge if it came to it. He used an ultrasound to exactly pinpoint the area, then made my leg pink with anesthetic and antiseptic stuff and then he got the needle out! Mum had been watching up until that point! She said the needle was pretty big, I am glad I didn't see it. The biopsy was taken with a core needle and basically he made a small incision in my leg, inserted the needle and then it 'clicks', which is when the biopsy was taken. Had to do three of those! It wasn't painful but uncomfortable. The doctor who did it was very good and talked me through the whole thing. Afterwards I had to wait in the waiting room again for a short period of time to make sure the wound stopped bleeding. As the anesthetic wore off it became very painful.

After my biopsy we had to go up to the haematology day unit to get some medication for me to take in preparation for chemotherapy. Was a bit unprepared to walk into a room with people all sitting around having chemotherapy, it was a real shock. Managed to collar one of the nurses and have a chat about what has been happening and is going to happen as all this has been going on and I haven't even seen a consultant yet, the feeling of being kept in the dark comes to mind. She was very nice and once she realised we hadn't seen anyone yet, as such, she sat down and answered our questions. She said all these scans and tests were needed to diagnose the type of lymphoma and she appreciated that normally you would see a consultant first but she guessed I was kind of being fast tracked. Came away feeling more knowledgeable and less scared.

In the evening I popped out to see my friends down the pub and basically told them all what has been going on, one of the hardest things I have had to do. A very draining day all around.

Saturday I popped out to take some photos of another church!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

CT Scan

Tuesday was the day of my CT scan at hospital, the appointment came through really quickly.

CT scan (or CAT scan) stands for Computerised (Axial) Tomography scan! It takes a series of X-rays and uses a computer to put them together. The CT machine takes pictures of your body from different angles and the result is a series of images, showing 'slices' through the body. The scanner (see right), is a donut shaped machine, with a moving bed that slices in and out of the scanner.

Wasn't allowed to eat anything after midnight on Monday and was only able to drink water before the scan. I had to wait and hour and a half before my scan in the waiting room. During which time I had a horrible tasting drink to drink, they try to disguise the taste with squash but it doesn't work! It is the 'contrast medium' which is a dye that shows up body tissues more clearly on the scan.

Before the scan you have to wear the attractive hospital gown! And then lie on the bed which is fully extended from the scanner. They put in a catheter so that they could administer more of the dye whilst I was in the scanner. I had to lie with my arms above my head. First they do something called setting the scene, basically setting up for the scan, they look on the TV screens in another room and get you in the right position by moving you in and out the scanner and telling you when to breathe normally or hold your breathe. Once they were happy with the position, the nurse came out to give me the dye, she did worn me of the side effects and they were weird. First you taste metallic in your mouth, then you have a hot flush and then it feels like your weeing yourself, you don't I might add but it is all very strange! And while all that is going on they are telling you when to hold your breath and breathe normally! The scan all in all takes about half an hour.

Then the waiting begins.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Ultrasound then Results.

After becoming very upset that I couldn't stand without being in pain for more than 10 minutes while observing Pilate's, Tuesday was the day of my liver ultrasound.

Wasn't allowed to eat anything before the scan but luckily it was an early appointment. Arrived promptly and was seen almost immediately. Had to change into the attractive hospital gown and then went into a side room which had the ultrasound equipment in it. A doctor performed the procedure, little complication at the beginning as the equipment wasn't set up probably which didn't please him! The squeezy get they use was warm!!! The examination took about 20 minutes, the doctor didn't say anything throughout, at the end he simply said that 'yes, the liver is most definitely enlarged and there are a number of lymph glands present in the stomach', he said there are a number of reason for this and that I would need further investigation, possibly involving a CT scan and a liver biopsy - scary! He would make sure his report was with the GP for my scheduled appointment on Thursday.

I came away with the conclusion that I still had a virus, because my liver was enlarged. Looking back now, the doctor must have suspected lymphoma then.

Wednesday morning, Mum and I went to photography our local church (didn't have my camera at this point so used Mum's) - Mum’s idea, an attempt to get me out and about. It was cold and sunny, we spent about an hour in the graveyard and I took over 100 photos!

Had an appointment with the Osteopath in the afternoon. Decided to stop treatment pending results of scan and on Dr Hoffman’s advice as remaining pain clearly wasn’t mechanical.

Saw GP on Thursday morning. He went through the results of ultrasound and explained they weren’t good, it showed an enlarged liver as suspected and glands in my abdomen. Although the last lot of bloods showed improvements the results of the ones taken on Monday were worse again. Knew in my heart they would be because I hadn’t been feeling right at all, needing to sleep for 2 hours every afternoon isn't normal.
Next steps - GP had already referred me to the Hepatology department at hospital, he said they are the best around to investigate what is going on and they will find out what it was. Asked what he suspected it was and GP said he suspected it was lymphoma, I didn’t have a clue what this was but he described it as being like leukaemia, which didn’t sound too good. The way my GP was being so sincere, I knew it was serious. Had to wait for the hospital to contact us which would be within 14days.

Looked up lymphoma on the internet and two words stood out cancer and chemotherapy.