Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recovering from the Blow

Steve and I have experienced a tremendous outpouring of support from our family and friends. When people ask how I am doing or how Steve is doing through everything, lately my answer has been this, "We are recovering from the blow." 

You know, the feeling you get when you have been punched in the stomach by some jerk without warning and the wind gets knocked right out of you.  For a moment, you can’t even catch your breath.  There is shock, pain, and breathlessness.  And then, with your head down and stomach in, you reach deep down inside, grit your teeth, and gasp for air.  It is difficult breathing at first, but eventually you catch your breath.  When you finally get your bearings, you face your enemy and get ready to not only defend yourself, but to demolish him.  You are not just angry, you’re furious!  Who does this creep think he is?  Who would have the audacity to sucker punch you without cause or provocation?  You bet you’re angry and rightly so! 

If you know Steve, you know that man keeps a tight reign on his tongue.  You don’t hear him shouting explicatives or using colorful language.  But lately, I have heard him say many times, “This is all bull shit!”  And when talking about his testing and treatment he will say, “I really don’t want to do any of this!” Yesterday he used the word “obstinate” to describe his state of mind.  But a few moments later he said, “I know, I know.  I’ll take my medicine.  I just won’t like it!” 

For me, it goes beyond anger.  I feel like Adrienne in the old classic, Rocky.  She watched her husband get attacked by his opponent, helpless to defend him.  I am not only angry; I am sad and scared too.  I know what could ultimately happen; the thoughts have crossed my mind.  I try not to think about them, but nonetheless they are real and present.  You see, Steve and I possess a deep and passionate love for one another.  I simply cannot imagine my life without him...

Shifting gears, how about I tell you a bit about today?

Today Steve had a MUGA (MUltiple Gated Acquisition scan) test done at Puyallup Nuclear Medicine.  This is a noninvasive test that produces a moving image of the heart. From this image, the health of the heart’s major pumping chamber (the left ventricle) can be assessed.  A MUGA scan is performed by attaching a radioactive substance, Technetium 99, to red blood cells, then injecting the red blood cells into the patient’s bloodstream. (The level of radiation to which a patient is exposed during this test is considered minimal.) The patient is then placed under a special camera (a gamma camera), and with some fancy computer manipulation, a “movie” of the beating heart is made. From this moving image, the MUGA scan gives an accurate and reproducible way to measure the ejection fraction (EF) of the left ventricle (  Dr. Liao ordered the test as a baseline before Steve begins Chemotherapy next week. 

They first drew some of Steve's blood and then added a radioactive isotope marker to it.  Then the blood was reinjected into Steve's vein and allowed to circulate back into his heart.

Next, Steve went into the MUGA scan for about 15 minutes while the machine took pictures of Steve's heart. If you look close, you can see Steve inside the machine.  He is wearing a light blue shirt.

Then the camera is repositioned and the MUGA takes a few more pictures.

Finally, we got to see Steve's heart on the computer!  The technician said that any score above 50 is good.  Steve got a 61 (EF).  In other words, he has a strong heart! 

The technician said that if his MUGA score were to drop about 10 points, they would need to discontinue giving Steve the medication in his Chemotherapy regime that cause that weakens the heart.  This was the first of possibly many MUGA tests to come.

Tomorrow Steve has his Bone Marrow Biopsy at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup.  We will see if the cancer has made its way to his stem cells.  Thank you for your continued prayers!

1 comment:

  1. The process is the battle. Face to face with our mortality and the fragility that we fail to see in our "health". The blessing of all this is as Paul says, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Every day is now a gift and we rightly see it for what it is. Choices can now be made not for career or financial reward but for love and people. He will carry you. There is a strange freedom when we realize as Christ said that to live we must die and if we are dead, then their is nothing left to extort. The paradoxes become flesh and blood. We continue to pray for you as you are stretched to cope with the process. The fall of man is so real during this process. Yet the atonement of Christ and his ongoing presence is ever more real because of it. God gets the glory and we get the victory. Blessings on you all.