Thursday, March 10, 2005

My Interpretation of the MRI films taken this Tuesday

Well I did it! I was brave and viewed the films on my own! At first I did not want to look at them because the number of tumors and the present size of the 3 in concern can be quite overwhelming and depressing.

Wednesday Harley wanted to look at them. Since he was viewing them it picqued my curiosity too. There was continued signs of necrosis (cell death represented by a blackening color within the tumor center) apparent in the tumor I had treated in July. However it still had a bright white outer rim which in January the doctors could not assess if the increased tumor size was due to new growth or swelling of the tumor.

Just viewing them from a distance in the sunlight and from the kitchen table I could not determine really whether my MRI looked good or bad. It is great that the center shows cell death but the main concern is whether it is continuing to get larger and if that growth on the outside is new and expansion of the tumor. It was just too much for me to deal with and I figured I would wait until the report was mailed to me and my appointment with Dr. Vermeulen on Monday.

But this morning however, I got a wild hair up my butt to make a comparison between the two sets of films taken from January 10th and March 8th. Looking at the two films was the only way I could know if there were any changes. In my layman's analysis I am rather excited! There is definitely alot more cell necrosis happening inside the tumor (black color on the MRI). In the January MRI, the tumor appears to be starting necrosis but is definitely more white.

On the MRI from Tuesday the outside is still white. However, the margin of whiteness is much less than it was before. I really cannot assess if the tumor has gotten bigger. If it has, it would be by mm. It was pretty large to begin with and there is not much space within the brain stem between the two acoustic neuromas (my brainstem is scrunched between 7 mm of space from the last MRI taken).

It is hard to tell because there are slight variations in the slices between the MRIs taken on the two dates but on some of the films is does appear that the left acoustic tumor may have increased in size somewhat. The last MRI report (from January) reflects that it does appear slightly larger but no significant measurement in size increase was made. I would not be surprised if it has grown because within the last month I have been experiencing a lot of involuntary eye twitching of the lower left eye lid which is really irritating. Prior to the very significant growth of my right side tumor, I experienced the same eye twitching accompanied by some involuntary facial muscle contractions in my right cheek and jaw.

Well seeing all those tumors in my head is daunting I must admit but I am excited to see more signs of necrosis in the treated tumor. Let us hope that the treatment is working! The experts at Swedish Medical Hospital met and reviewed my films about a month ago. Like the University of Washington Neurology board, they proposed no surgery to that area at this time (whew!). They also informed me that if the tumor is indeed swelling, it may take another 4 to 6 months for the swelling to cease and my symptoms to alleviate.

Yet these determinations were made before it was discovered last week by a University of Washington neuro-opthamalogist that my optic nerves are swelling due to intracranial pressure. They decided to put me on medication. I started the steroid decadron again on thursday (I have taken this steroid 4 times since July and Prednisone 3 times) and my prescription of diamox came in on friday. I will be taking the decadron at a low dose (4 mg daily) for at least 2 weeks and then probably tapering off. I am unsure how long I will be on the diamox (which is an anti-inflammatory drug they use to treat glaucoma in older patients and altitude sickness in mountain climbers). I am really hoping that this does the trick so I do not need a shunt placed in my head to relieve the pressure and that my vision problems are alleviated.

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