The waiting this week finally came to an end. This afternoon my oncologist called me to discuss the results of my brain and my lower back MRI performed on Tuesday. While the MRIs were not performed with contrast and are thus less sensitive, the brain MRI did not show indication of mets. That’s, of course, good news. The symptoms, however, still continue with the numbness in the lower right jaw, the headaches and low-grade fever. The next test will be x-rays of the jaw by the dentist, whom I still need to find; I have received a couple of recommendations. My oncologist said the numbness and other symptoms could be unrelated to the cancer and were also not really symptoms of ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw). She did say that some people are more prone to ONJ than others, so it does not always relate to how long you have been treated with the bisphosphonates but whether you might have a susceptibility to the condition. She said that neural involvement could be causing the symptoms, so an appointment with a neurologist is also on the horizon.
The other news is that the MRI to the lower spine showed progression in the lumbar and sacral vertebrae, so the next step in that regard is a consult with the likelihood of radiation treatment to that area. I talked with the rad onc office this afternoon, but they need to call me back on Monday. This MRI finding was not a surprise because my left hip and upper thigh have been increasingly painful over the past few weeks. The other day it felt as though my hip socket was stuck when I tried to stand up, and the pain froze the joint for a while until I could work it loose. This has happened a number of times lately, though I was hoping it was just an attack of arthritis, though arthritis is not one of the issues haranguing my body. When I sleep on that side, the hip joint hurts from the pressure, despite my personal fluff around my hips.
I guess between all of the scattered symptoms, I have had no appetite except for sleep. Every morning I can barely drag myself out of bed, and during the day I find myself falling asleep as soon as I sit down on the sofa to get comfortable without a computer. One other odd aspect to all of this is that the blood glucose levels that were running a bit high about a month ago seem to have dropped lower than they were for me when they were on an even keel in the 130s to 140s; the last few days they have been running lower than that even though I have been drinking some ginger ale for the random nausea.
The benefits of the recent radiation to the thoracic spine and of the current systemic treatment, exemestane, will remain unknown for yet another month. I think the thoracic radiation has helped because the pain and the neural symptoms, especially the restless leg syndrome that roamed my entire left side and limbs, have definitely eased. The pain in the left hip and upper leg, however, obscured the other because for a while they felt one and the same. Now that the RLS has eased, I can feel the difference with the sharper pains in the hip joint and upper thigh.
Some days I wonder whether coping with the pain and symptoms along with simply monitoring all of the increasing or decreasing effects is part of why I feel exhausted. I know that it would be nice to have a little vacation from all of this and just feel what a normal body feels at this stage of life from doing what is normal, like dancing or going for a hike or a bike ride, a long walk or just spending the day walking around shopping for antiques or walking through a wildlife preserve.
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