Results from MRI-neck

Not exactly what I was expecting.  He said he didn’t have the films (computer files-I’m sure) of the MRI but he had the written report (I think I was their last patient and they were all waiting to go home)!  He read though the report, which went cervical disk by disk…

It started out OK, then with each disk got worse until he hit 4/5, which shows severe degenerative disk disease and a herniation with severe narrowing of the area around the spinal cord, causing it to flatten.  Bone spurs and of course, arthritis (they call it facet disease). Then 5/6 is moderate DDD, bone spurs and arthritis.  Argh.

I’m going to have steroid shots in my neck!  They use computed imaging to guide the needle, make sure it goes where it is supposed to go.  This is from a treatment video:

“Epidural steroid injection can be very helpful to take away the inflammation and the swelling from around the disc and the nerve root, which doesn’t fix a disc herniation, by the way. It doesn’t make a herniated disc go away nor does it mask anything. What it does is it takes away the inflammation and that opens up a window of opportunity during which a person can stretch and strengthen and address the posture and the biomechanics in order to tweak the biomechanics so the same stresses aren’t still going through the disc and the nerve so that the symptoms don’t recur.

If the symptoms are persistent and are interfering with quality of life, in those rare instances where physical therapy, time, injections aren’t taking away the symptoms, it’s certainly appropriate to have a conversation with a spinal surgeon about the different surgical alternatives. Often discectomy is a relatively small surgery – it is still a surgery – in order to take away some of the disc and decompress the nerve root.”

Speaking of discectomy, I don’t want surgery.  I don’t want to risk it.  Not with Carcinoid Cancer and the possibility of Carcinoid Crisis during surgery.  I’ve been lucky and have not had any issues with it during both my right-hemicolectomy and liver cytoreduction surgeries.  My doctor said I was “steady Eddie”.  I’m such a good patient!  LOL.

Next week I go in for my 6 month blood work.  Then I have the epidural injection scheduled for the 13th, triple-phase CT scan the 29th (to check-in on my liver tumors) and meet my new Onc. on Feb. 2nd.

I also received a call from Novartis, the maker of Sandostatin LAR that I’ve been on since my diagnosis.  They have a patient co-pay benefit plan where you only pay $25 per shot and they pick up the rest.  This is only for those with commercial insurance, like me.  They called to tell me that starting Feb. 1st, the patient will be responsible for enrolling and submitting the claims for the benefit.  I’m good with that!  I’m just happy they have it.  Saves me paying my out-of-pocket maximum!  My first two shots of my insurance new year uses up my maximum so then I’m 100% covered the rest of the year.  My insurance year is July-June sp I’m good until July 1st.  That is why I’m doing the injection thing on my neck now.  It won’t cost me a dime.

I also want to say “Happy New Year!”  Wishing everyone a good 2016!  Success comes in many forms (treatments, jobs, relationships, etc.). I wish you all SUCCESS in the New Year!





MRI-cervical spine

I saw my ortho doc and told him I didn’t feel like the steroids helped.  Actually, what I said was that I really missed my celebrex!  He was shocked.  He said that the steroids should have helped much better and quicker with the pain/discomfort than the celebrex.  He thought I should have an MRI to make sure I don’t have any bulging or herniated disks.  X-rays don’t show the disk spaces (?).

They had me go in on Saturday.  I went to an imaging center and not the hospital, which was great (and cheaper but that doesn’t matter since it didn’t cost me anything having met my deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, ((thank you Sandostatin!)).  It was a nice place with super nice staff.  The MRI wasn’t too bad. It was a little different than I remembered.  I remember a lot of noise but this noise was different.  I’m sure it’s just my memory of the last one.  I did get to listen to music, which helps.  I didn’t open my eyes much, I was concentrating on holding very still.  The tech said I did a great job!  Woot, woot, give me an “A”.

I go in on Wednesday for results.  I’m not expecting it to show anything.  I don’t think I have the kind of pain I would if I actually had a herniated disk.  Guess I’ll find out.

I’m back on the celebrex so it’s feeling pretty good.  My hot flashes are still more intense and my heart still feels like it’s going to pound out of my check at times.  I don’t think those two issues were caused by the steroids although I read that they stay in your system for two weeks.  It’s been a week.  If it keeps up, I will tell my nurse when I go in on the 5th for my Sando shot.  See what she (or he) thinks.

I’m heading South for Christmas to see my sister and her family.  I’ll get to meet my newest great-nephews (twins) as well.  I’m excited to see these little surprise guys.  My niece was “done” with her family so these two were a BIG surprise.  We were all just so thankful that they were healthy and of good weight.  It’ll make Christmas extra special this year.

I will pop in and update you on the results of my MRI.

Merry Christmas!


A Very Merry Christmas!

I wanted to pop in and wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas or whatever you may celebrate (or not) this year.

To be honest, Christmas is not my favorite time of year.  It seems to bring home more of what I don’t have, than what I do…

I have lived with my oldest sister since I got divorced.  It’s been much longer than I planned.  We get along really well and enjoy having someone around.  I don’t know where I would be without her.  She has helped me so much.  She’s waited for me while I’ve had surgeries; come along to important doctor’s appointments; taken me to the store when I was unable to drive, etc., etc.  I don’t have her come with me to my oncologist’s appointments (I think she’s been to two in the past 3 1/2 years).  I don’t feel I need someone to hold my hand.  Mostly because there is nothing major to discuss.

My previous insurance had a great online portal where I would get all my results, including scans, before I saw my onc. so I knew what was what before I went.  I don’t have that luxury anymore.  I do have a online portal,  but they are not very fast getting it updated!  Blood results I get from the cancer clinic portal pretty quickly, it’s just my scan results I hate waiting for!

My next appointment is for blood work in early January.  Including my pancreastatin, CgA, etc.  I have a triple phase CT scan scheduled the end of January and then I see my new oncologist in early February!  I try not to stress or have “scanxiety” when it is time but you can’t really help having some.

At my last appointment with my oncologist, we mostly discussed his leaving and going to another cancer center.  He did tell me that he would be happy to see me there.  Huntsman Cancer Institute is a great place to be treated for most types of cancer.  I don’t think they would do anything different for me (Carcinoid or Neuroendocrine cancer) though.  However, they are a research hospital so I would likely have a better change of getting into a clinical trial if needed.  My plan is to see how this next round of tests goes and meet my new onc., then decide whether to make the move.  I really like where I go now simply because it is five minutes from work!  I know that’s a silly reason but since only a couple of co-workers know about my cancer, I don’t want to take a lot of time off to go to get my shots, etc.

So how do I feel?  Mostly pretty good.  I’ve been on some steroids for my neck. At my last follow-up with my GP, I told her how bad my neck was hurting.  It’s a long story but it’s bothered me forever.  I know I have degenerative disk disease from an MRI I had about 13 years ago!  Well, she gave me a prescription for celebrex and wanted me to go get an x-ray to see if I needed another MRI and/or go see a orthopedic doc. X-ray was not too bad.  Moderate DDD, osteoarthritis, some bone spurs.  I made the apt. with the ortho doc and he wanted me to do PT which I declined for now (too expensive), hence the round of steroids.  My fingers are numb and have been for a long time–so long I hardly notice it!  He thought the roids would help reduce inflammation and hopefully help with the numbness. I did ten days.  I finished yesterday.  Yeah!  The only thing I noticed is it made my hot flashes more intense.  I think that’s what was happening.  I’m not sure.  I’ll see how they are now that I’ve stopped.  My fingers are still numb.  Maybe not as bad.  It’s hard to tell.  I couldn’t take the celebrex while on the steroids so my neck hurt a lot more!  It had really started helping even though I only took it for about a week.  I got to start taking it again today!  I go see him Wednesday, so not expecting much from that appointment.  I don’t think there’s really any “next steps” unless I want physical therapy.  I just don’t have the time/money to go do that 2 or 3 times a week!  I’m just glad I’m not at the point that I need surgery to fuse these disks.  That’s what they told me I would need all those years ago after my MRI.  Sheesh….  Not if, but when.

The other thing I noticed on the steroids was that my heart was really pounding at times.  Almost like it would jump out of my chest.  I’ve had palpitations on/off since before my diagnosis (Carcinoid).  I hope it was the steroids.  I hope that it is not carcinoid related.  Carcinoid heart disease is NOT something I want to deal with.

With Christmas quickly approaching, I just want to get it over with!  We had a huge snow storm come in yesterday–which we really needed.  I’m hoping to go South to my other sisters for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  Her daughter, my niece just had twin boys and I haven’t seen them yet.  I know I’ll get it the spirit of Christmas with all of them!  It’s a 4+ hour drive so I’m hoping the weather will cooperate!