Saturday, September 27, 2008

Two Days in Bethesda

Lee Ann and I traveled to Bethesda, Maryland, in the wee hours of the morn on Thursday, September 25. Arriving on time at BWI at 8 a.m., we set off using the DC Metro's excellent public transportation system to get from point A to point B. After being most pleasantly surprised with an extremely early check-in at the hotel in Bethesda, I decided to head over to the NIH to see if I there was any way to get my already-scheduled MRI moved from 6 p.m. to sometime sooner.

Prior to getting an MRI, you have to be phlembotimized...one vial of blood to check serum creatinine levels, I think. I probably should ask about that one of these days. It's a bit like a trip to the BMV. You check in, get a number and watch the board!

Then it's off to the medicolegal section to put in my request to pick up a copy of the MRI that I can take back to local doctor for his review.

The MRI gods must have been pleased because when I went to inquire about an earlier scan, they had an opening at 2 p.m. I locked it in and went to hang out in the main clinic lobby. Arriving back at the appointed hour, I was scanned and on my way back to Lee Ann at the hotel by 3 p.m.

Our good friends, Jace and CeCe Wieser (Jace and I have been fast friends since 7th grade), made the trek in from Vienna, Virgina, to spend the evening with us. It was a very relaxing evening and the perfect distraction.

Terry (admonishing Lee Ann to hurry up and take the picture) with Jace at Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda. Try the garlic spinach as a side!

Look! Pretty girls! Lee Ann and CeCe.

It was a rainy Friday as we departed the hotel for the NIH and our 10 a.m. visit to the Neuro-Oncology Clinic on the 12th Floor of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center. Complimentary shuttle service is provided around the expansive NIH campus, but the direct shuttle was SRO so we ended up getting the scenic tour, arriving four minutes late. I think they keep pretty close track of that because a sh*tload of waiting followed. They get you all excited by calling you back almost immediately, but that is only to take your vital signs and the like. Since we had been in a rush, I was hot and my blood was pumping. They took my blood pressure three times before finally accepting that I wasn't about to have a heart attack, I was just in a hurry. The waiting room was packed when we arrived, but soon cleared out as people were moved back to the various rooms to await their turn with the doctor. It was after noon before Lee Ann and I were finally called back to wait some more.

Back in the observation room, the ever-patient patient...doubling as a billboard for the LiveStrong Foundation.

I was visited first by one of the nurse practitioners, Colleen, who took down my history since the last visit and then performed a number of neurological exams. Even Lee Ann got to help by operating the overhead lights while the NP checked my eyeballs. There is lots of pushing and pulling involved, whacking on my joints with a hammer, closed-eye nose touching and heel-toe walking in the hallway.

Colleen left to go load my MRI into the computer for Dr. Fine to review and share the results of my neurological tests with him before he met with us. After another half hour of waiting, Colleen returned to say that Dr. Fine had another patient in front of me so it would probably be another 30-45 minutes. By now, it was after 1 p.m. and I had not had anything to eat since about 7 a.m. I made use of the additional time by making a food run and picking up my medical records. Our flight was scheduled out of BWI at 4:40 p.m. We had already missed the NIH's airport shuttle and the Metro was not an option simply because it would take too long. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would either have to cough up for a cab or just stay over another night if needed.

Dr. Fine entered the room at about 1:45 p.m., as promised, and got down to business. He compared Thrusday's scan to the previous one and the "enhancement" occurring in my brain continues. It is not massive, but it is indeed remarkable, and noticeable to the untrained eye. He reiterated from our phone call last week that his experience tells him that this represents progression and not necrosis. The options, as he saw them, were pretty much the same as he had outlined then: clinical trial, surgery followed by Avastin, or start Avastin now without surgery. He really didn't express an opinion regarding surgery other than to say that's it's always good to start treatment with less tumor than more (surgical risks aside).

So while I didn't leave with a ton of new information, it was good for Lee Ann to be there and here it straight from Dr. Fine and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Although we received a hotel and meal reimbursement totaling $110, we had to give $65 to the cab driver to get us to BWI in time to make our scheduled return to Indianapolis. Our flight ended up being delayed about 30 minutes so everything worked out fine. We landed in Indy and headed straight to Lutheran High School on the south side of Indianapolis to watch the Arsenal Tech Titans (Dale's team) defeat the Saints 28-23. When Lee Ann and I headed to the car with eight seconds left, Tech was up 28-17. It would seem that on the last play, Tech's punt was kicked into another Tech player and it was scooped up for a TD by the other team. Always stay until the end!

Next Stop: Dr. Edward Dropcho on Tuesday, September 30. Then it's time to pick either the red pill or blue pill and enter The Matrix once again.

Parting Shot
Dr. Howard Fine and Terry. Look at the photo of the two of us posted on April 30 and you will note that he is wearing the same tie!

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