Things are moving fast! We spent Friday morning meeting with the two specialists who will oversee my upcoming procedure. Most of the morning was spent waiting, and filling out forms (I am surprised that Allegheny General does not have a networked computer system, so that questions answered in one department are also answered for the other and do not have to be repeated) That said, it gives us something to do while waiting ---
The procedure, which is scheduled for Wed. July 15, will kill the tumor by focused radiation. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Aziz, will work with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Fuhrer, to aim the precisely at the tumor and avoid damaging any living tissue.
Dr. Aziz showed us, on a model of the brain, exactly where the tumor lies – very deep in the brain, embedded in white matter in the posterior left ventricle. So deep and so small, it is not operable by ordinary methods. The focused radiation is a common procedure, and the hospital has a lot of experience doing it. The failure rate (that is, not a complete kill of the tumor) is about 3%. This is very reassuring.
The side effects could be headache, caused by swelling of tissue, and (I’ve forgotten what it is called) the very rare problem of reabsorption of the dead tumor.
Prior to the procedure, but on the same morning, I will be fitted with a frame that is screwed into the skull. This will be done under local anesthetic. Everyone assured me that it will be extremely uncomfortable, if not painful.
From there my frame and I will have a limited MRI which will help my doctors aim the radiation beam. That planning session will take several hours while frame and I relax! in a recovery area.
Then on to the radiation room, where the procedure will take place. The frame will be screwed into the table so that there is no chance of movement. I worry about my coughing at this point.
When the procedure is done, my frame and I are still not finished. We will be wheeled back for a post procedure scan, to determine the success of the operation. And only then will frame and I part company.
Time in the recovery room, where they promise me a meal of hospital food (is that a reward, or what?) Eventually I will be discharged and Larry will take me home.
Poor Larry! The hospital insists he hang around, with nothing to do but worry about me. In the past, when Larry was in that hospital, I would sneak out to the Warhol or the Mattress factory. Larry is not one to ask. I am hoping that one of his friends, on reading this, will come and keep him company. Perhaps they can go to lunch together.