Apr 11, 2011

Home Sweet Home, but back to MDACC Tomorrow

Hello, world! It’s me, Roger... blogging again. First of all, many thanks to my sweetie, Holly, for being so diligent and blogging almost every day while we were at MD Anderson. And for being there every day, by my side no matter what. I love you babe! When we last left you here on the blog we were still in Houston and ready to be discharged on April 5th. Everything went as scheduled and we managed to get discharged early enough to venture out and get some lunch, shop for a pair of jeans for me for dinner and then celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary over a delicious nine course dinner in the evening.

Stitch removal - Click for more
The following day we had our follow up appointment with Dr. Lang, my neurosurgeon. We were relieved that he decided that the stitches could be removed. That meant we did not have to stay overnight again in Houston and have them removed on Thursday. He answered all of the questions that we had for him and he also explained to us that the tumor had been analyzed and it returned as the more aggressive Anaplastic Ependymoma, WHO Grade 3. What does this mean? It was more aggressive this time around and this is the highest grade for an ependymoma. Did they get it all? Looking under the microscope during the surgery, Dr. Lang believes so. But it would be foolish to think that every single cancer cell was removed. As a result, tomorrow we are off to MD Anderson again to once again visit with Dr. Conrad, my Neuro-Oncologist. He is the doctor that we did the clinical trial with and we will receive further guidance from him from this point forward. I have no idea what he is going to recommend so I will not speculate but will fill you in on the details after we meet.

OT/PT Eval - Click for more
Last Friday I had my Occupational and Physical Therapy evaluations at St. David’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services and started both today. I will have two 30-minute sessions of OT for four weeks and three 60-minute sessions of PT for six weeks if not longer. The sessions are challenging and tiring, especially PT. At this point I am not able to move anything in my right ankle or foot and the muscles in my right leg are very weak, but I do have complete sensation. The down side right now because of this deficiency is that I cannot drive.

PT / E-Stim - Click for more
Today we did what is called electrical stimulation (E-Stim) where pads are placed on specific places on the skin and an electrical charge is passed through to make the muscle contract. It basically feels like getting shocked, but is not dangerous and is controlled. The premise is that while the electricity is being applied and activating a particular muscle I am to also ‘think’ of moving the muscle at the same time. This can create a new pathway in the brain to activate the muscle that is no longer working due to damage in the brain. Five years ago I was not able to move my ankle at all and this technique taught me how to do it again. We are giving it another shot. I know… fascinating, right?

Lastly, I wanted to share the MRIs from the day before the surgery and the day after the surgery.
MRI Pre-Surgery: 23Mar2011 (Click to enlarge)
The final size of the tumor pre-surgery: 3.8cm front to back x 2.3cm side to side x 2.4cm top to bottom.
MRI Post-Surgery: 25Mar2011 (Click to enlarge)
Yep, there’s a big o’ hole in my brain now.

-Roger
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