Respect the Spleen

I should be sleeping.  It is 1:30 AM.  This is my second post for the night, because I can’t stop and sort out the overflow in my head any other way.

Maybe you have been following the saga of my poor spleen… or not.  Either way, my spleen has issues.  Or, rather, my doctors have issues with my spleen.

respectthespleen

The first time the hamartomas were detected on my spleen was probably when I had an abdominal ultrasound as a screening after my diagnosis.  When I saw my oncologist in August, she wanted an MRI done of the spleen so she could have a basis for future comparison.  When she called me with the results in August she was ready to send me for a surgical consult, based on the significant size of the 4 hamartomas (courtesy of Cowden’s Syndrome – aka PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome) on my spleen.  Since the spleen itself is only about 11 cm long, the hamartomas across the top equaled or exceeded the length of the spleen.  At the time, I was coming off of a double mastectomy in March, and a hysterectomy in May.  She was forcing my hand to schedule a colonoscopy (which I did,) but I pleaded with her for 6 more months with my spleen.  Reluctantly, she agreed.

spleen

So, when I had the car accident and I was sent for an abdominal ultrasound, that started the whole process over again.  The oncologist looked at the report and ordered an MRI.  I went for the MRI and tried to set up the surgical consult.  The surgeon, who is a surgical oncologist, thinks the spleen needs to come out, but he wants me to see a different surgeon to see if it could possibly done through laproscopy first.  But, he wants to talk to my oncologist before he will set up an appointment to even evaluate my case, and my oncologist spent last week in California at a conference.

So, instead of February… it is now December, and I am waiting.  Waiting to have the fate of my spleen determined.

Well meaning people say to me, “Don’t worry – you can live without your spleen.”

Sometimes well meaning people should smile and nod more, and speak less.

Yes, I KNOW I can LIVE without my spleen.  You can also LIVE without your boobs, your uterus, your cervix and your ovaries.  You can LIVE without your gall bladder, and your appendix, and your thyroid, and one kidney, and part of your liver or lung too.  But, just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should.

I am thinking of asking for a fake fish for Christmas.  One that will remind me I have been gutted like a fish this year.  One that will also remind me that, no matter how many body parts they take, you have to KEEP SWIMMING!

keep swimming

Monday or Tuesday I will talk to a doctor about my spleen.  I would love to keep it.  I just think we have gotten along nicely for the last 39 years.  And, its mine.  But, I will listen to the doctors (after I ask them EVERY hard question I have,) and I will do what is best, and safest.

Heck, I didn’t go through all of this past year to be beaten by my spleen….

Whose afraid on an MRI? Not me – practice makes perfect!

MRI

So as I was positioned to be rolled into the MRI tube today, I realized my heart wasn’t even racing.  Not that I ENJOY an MRI, it’s just they have become so familiar that they no longer provoke the anxiety they used to.  I have held onto Meghan‘s shoulder through countless knee MRIs, and this past year have had quite a few of my own.

Today it was an abdominal MRI.  Now if you have been following the story at all you know my abdomen is missing a few things.  You may or may not know that there is also the issue of a harmatoma (basically a fatty tumor) on my spleen from this PTEN harmatoma tumor syndrome.  Yep, that’s the other big fancy name for Cowden’s Syndrome – or more technically it is the umbrella term that covers Cowden’s and several other syndromes.

So, why the MRI?  Well among the other neat cancers that seem to come with this genetic mutation, is renal cell carcinoma.  A recent study, the same one that put the lifetime breast cancer risk at 85%, placed the risk of renal cell carcinoma in Cowden’s patients at 33% Yep, quiet old kidney cancer – hiding there until it causes you a problem.  So, they like to screen for it – twice a year with an abdominal MRI.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22252256

Part of me wishes they could just do the kidney.  You see I have this theory about taking the used car to the mechanic…  You just sometimes find out more than you wanted to know.

OK Used Cars

 I really am not in the mood to lose any more organs.  I think I have reached my quota for the year.  And I have to tell you, this is one hell of a way to lose a few pounds.

So, somtime tomorrow or Monday the oncologist will call me.  She will tell me that the kidneys look great.  She will tell me that the harmatoma on the spleen hasn’t grown, and it can stay right where it is.  She will also tell me that the stones they saw on ultrasound in my gallbladder a few months ago are no problem at all.  She will tell me all that because that is what I need to hear.  And hopefully it will all be true.

I need it to be true.  Because I will be busy.  An appointment right before the MRI with a new GI set me up for the “necessary” screening endoscopy/colonoscopy on September 18th. The risk of colon cancer is a meager 9%, up only a few % points from the general population, but no point leaving any stone unturned I guess!

Some days I wait for the break.  The time when we will be without doctors.  Then I realize this is all so new.  They are all so scared and confused they are doing all they can when they scan this, study that…  Hey, it worked for me when they saved my life with the breast cancer.  And, it will work to keep my girl safe as we scan her thyroid religiously.

I am tired.  I would be lying if I said anything else.  I am TIRED of doctors.  But, as I said before… I will keep going, necause there is no choice.  Plus, “Everybody has SOMETHING!” https://beatingcowdens.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=693&action=edit

At least I am not afraid of the MRI tube anymore!