Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Limb Salvage Redo

It feels weird to be back here in my old stomping grounds. Even beginning to type a post on here brings me back to sick, foggy, hairless days filled with awesome nurses, friends, and family members. There were some good times, but I am sooooooo so so so so glad it's over. Life is great. I've got two cancer-related updates, which is my reason for breaking the silence, but first:

What have I been doing for the last year??

Welllll, Michael and I have been living in San Jose with my mom and brothers, and dogs, which has been the biggest blessing. Once we moved here, everything just fell into place exactly how it was supposed to. Michael got a great job as a software engineer at EMC. Shortly after, I was offered a 6th grade teaching position in Morgan Hill. I felt pretty fragile at the time and just prayed that I would get a job that I could manage. I needed good kids, close proximity to home, and a warm faculty to collaborate with, and I found exactly that. I was nervous that 6th graders would be so much naughtier than 5th graders, but my group of kids was everything I wanted. It was an exhausting year, spending 10-11 hours at school most days, but it was so fun and rewarding.

Here are some highlights from this last year:

Gio and Otto

Alaska Cruise

Including the whole family on holidays
Michael walking in his graduation

I went on a boy scout camping trip with Michael. Ha!

Teaching 6th Grade!

Beautiful Santa Barbara

Warriors Parade

Truth be told, we did a lot more this year than is depicted above, but tracking down the pictures and then getting them in the right place on here is becoming waaaay too time consuming.

Alright, now for the 2 Cancer Related Things.

1. Get your moles checked. 
This is not a big deal. I repeat, this is NOT a big deal, but I had this weird looking mole on my hand so I went to a dermatologist to get it checked out. She decided to do a biopsy and it was NOT cancerous, but it had a 10-15% chance of becoming cancerous sometime in the future, so they recommended I get it completely removed. I am telling you this not because it was scary, traumatic, or life-altering, but because it is slightly cancer-related and I want to encourage you to just go to the doctor and get stuff checked out. I used to worry about seeming like a hypochondriac, but you know what, who cares? Give yourself the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what's going on with your body.
Three tiny stitches.
 2. Limb-Salvage. Take Two.
Well, shucks. My original limb salvage surgery didn't really pan out like I hoped it would. I just kept waiting for my leg to get better, and it didn't. My most recent x-rays (below) show that my bone did not fuse together with the cadaver bone like it was supposed to (that's where the red bracket is) and as a result, the metal rod is windshield wipering in my leg. It's painful to walk and it's actually hollowing out my bone. I circled where there is a huge gap around the rod that shouldn't be there.

This second x-ray shows that my poor bone wants to grow and strengthen itself, but that rod is keeping it from growing in, and instead it is growing outward. I drew an arrow showing where the bone is growing, trying to compensate for the gap.

My poor left leg. It's trying its darndest, but it's just not enough. So on July 17th, I'm going to have a redo. They are going to completely remove the metal rod in my leg, and a portion of the cadaver bone (allograft) and replace it with a different metal contraption that forces my bone to grow into porous metal and fuse together that way. I'm pretty nervous. Surgery was rough last time around and this is pretty much the same thing, except this time

1. I'll have an immune system
2. The surgeon won't be trying to navigate around a tumor, so there shouldn't be more nerve damage
3. They are going to try to leave my knee intact, so I can bend my knee immediately after surgery
4. I know what to expect. I know it will be painful and that the pain will be temporary. I know to have them check and make sure the epidural stays in place.
5. I'm living in San Jose, so my mom will be with me all the time

I'm very out of the habit of blogging, but in an effort to document my entire experience with osteosarcoma, I will try to remember to let you know how surgery goes. I'm so ready to get better!