Giant Cell Tumor – 9 Months Post-Op

This time around I had to provide x-rays of my lungs as well as the knee, as GCT can metastasize to the lungs.  This proved no small feat, as the facility I go to here in town specializes in orthopedic and decidedly not lungs.  The doc I’ve been seeing from the start – the Doc who diagnosed my tumor – assured me that while they couldn’t evaluate a lung x-ray, they’d be happy to take it.  This is fine, since I send all my x-rays off to the team in Florida who performed my surgery.

Of course this didn’t go as planned.  My normal doc wasn’t in the office the day of my appointment, and everyone else seemed befuddled by the idea that I wanted a lung scan.  An appointment that should have been 10 minutes stretched to over an hour as I refused the knee x-ray without also having the lungs.  Eventually a doc on duty responded to my increasing surliness by actually going through my case notes and discovering that I had indeed been assured they’d do it.

Then, as is par for the course, they send me home with a disc that only held the lung scans – no knee.  Luckily, ever since I had disc lost in the mail I’ve made a point of cutting and ISO before sending them, and this time I noticed the lack of any knee images.  Back up to the office I went to pick up another disc.

Ultimately all this is is another indictment of the bureaucracy inherent in our medical system here in the states.  Medicine is one of those weird fields where there’s an extreme variability in competence and service that would make nearly any other business model fail.  In medicine they’ve managed to bake it in and monetize it.  We pay, both financially and physically, for the inefficiency and inconsistency of medical care.

But I digress… As per usual, the official day for scan reviews is on a Friday and despite me requesting to be contacted before they all took off for the weekend, no one did.  Scanxiety in full effect!  Luckily I have the email address of my surgeon, and he responded quickly on Saturday with a “Looks great!”

Here’s the thing that helps fuel scanxiety – it still hurts.  It’s still tender, it still feels fragile.  And the weather’s changing here in Central Oregon – it was 33 this morning – and already it’s obvious that the cold still effects it.  It’s stiffer and achier than it had been during late summer.  Last night I went for a mountain bike ride on a loop that’s more exercise than fun, and after loading up, getting into the car, and cranking up the heat it properly hurt.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I was warned that this would probably be the case.  It’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.  My wife toys with the idea of moving somewhere warmer, but she and our son love the winter and the activities it brings.  I just have to learn to live with this and do whatever I can to make it less impactful – aspirin, heating pads etc.  And I still need to learn that every new ache and pain doesn’t mean that the tumor’s returning – it’s just the inevitable byproduct of the procedure and the hardware.  As the days get shorter and colder I have to make a commitment to myself to do what I must to stay positive, and get outside, and be physical, and not let the doldrums of winter get me down.

My next x-ray – which happens every 4 months – is scheduled for January of next year.  I will have officially passed the 1 year anniversary of my diagnosis and surgery.  In some ways that’s hard to believe.

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