Sunday, 31 May 2009

Week 11 ..... second MRI and ?

Well the second MRI seemed to go without a hitch ... not that they tell you anything with regard to what they have seen. The nurse who inserted the IV port in my arm and gave the Gadolinium injection (contrast medium) was English so we had a good old chat! She has only been over here three years to my ten. I was a bit amazed because they stopped the MRI almost immediately after the contrast was injected .... hardly more than a minute or two had elapsed. AND the injection was extremely painful this time around and I had a bruise and lump for several days after!

At the weekend I received a further appointment to see the Neurologist, which I wasn't expecting as he had previously referred me on to the radiology/oncology team. So I have no idea what the purpose of this visit will turn out to be. It's next Friday, 5th June.

But, naturally, 'being a patient' one is inclined to wonder and worry! So what's new?

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Week 10 .... Hannibal Lecter's mother!

Well this week saw the fitting of my head frame in readiness for fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (FSRT) .... thankfully the frame is removable as it is not a pretty sight by anyone's standards! John wanted to take a photograph of me wearing this formidable piece of apparatus so that I might post it here on my blog .... but I decided that I would decline his kind offer!

FSRT is radiation treatment divided into multiple doses given on different days, and is given in the Dunedin centre using a modified linear accelerator machine via a removable head frame. The particular frame used is called a Gill Thomas Cosman frame, and comprises a horizontal metal 'halo' with adjustable sides which is fixed to my head via:

1) a mouthpiece to my upper jaw
2) an occipital mould which fits to the back of my head
3) two straps which cross over on top of my head.

The mouthpiece is an impression of my upper jaw into which my upper teeth fit when the frame is put on. The mould at the back is then placed into position and the whole thing is tightened up, and the overhead straps are put in place. Once the frame is on I am helped onto the treatment couch and lowered backwards in such a way that the headframe slots into an additional frame fitted to the head of the couch ... I am therefore truly 'firmly fixed' and cannot escape!!

It is of course of paramount importance that my head should be in the same position for each and every treatment (!) and this is checked every time by means of a sort of 'space helmet' with 'access ports' in it. Once I am in position on the couch precise measurements are taken of the relative position of my head by passing a measurement tool through the helmet's ports and noting the precise distance to where it touches my scalp.

We did a total of three 'practice runs' ..... i.e. the whole caboodle of fixing the headframe into place, climbing onto the couch, being lowered and fixed to the couch-frame, measuring through the 'space helmet' (I don't know what this thing is called) then taking it all off and starting all over again.

The whole procedure was then repeated one more time when I went for a check CT Scan and it was certainly reassuring to find out that each measurement was within approx. 0.5mm on each occasion!

I am to have another MRI on Wednesday, this time they will take many more images in order to build up a very detailed picture of Feckit's exact size and shape, but the FSRT may not begin until mid-June.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Week 8 .... Feckit and the Tooth Fairy

Introducing 'Feckit' - my left-sided meningioma.
In this image its main body is the 'blob' right of centre
and it
can be seen to be branching along the underside of the temporal lobe


The tooth fairy

On Monday evening I saw the orthodontist who removed my shattered front crown. It came out relatively easily and the procedure was painless, thanks to plenty of local anaesthetic! Several NSAIDs and some Codeine Phosphate got rid of the after pains and its now healing well.

The 'tooth fairy' has made me a tiny little plate (which may look small but feels like a tombstone in my mouth!) with a single tooth on it. I am learning to eat .... but its quite difficult and the whole thing has a tendency to spring out of my mouth if I don't concentrate properly!

And for this joyful addition I have just paid $760.

Its amazing how difficult it is to get used to something 'foreign' in ones mouth ..... but it is all good practice for the mouth brace that I will have to wear during radiotherapy.

"Look on the bright side of life, .......... dee-dum, dee-dum, dee-dum"