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Friday, September 16, 2011

In the Clear


Good news, everyone.

I had my six-month MRI yesterday and it showed no evidence of tumor regrowth. The past three MRIs have all been the same, so my odds are now better than when you are dealt an eleven when the dealer has a five showing. Still, craniopharyngiomas can be tricky. Unlike either a benign adenoma or a deadly brain cancer, a craniopharyngioma seemingly straddles both worlds the way Goethe lays claim to both classical and romantic literature. It's somewhere in the middle; it's benign until it acts malignant. Then it's benign again. You never know, and they are too rare to make any real predictions. It's all guessing.

The strategy my neurologists and surgeons are adhering to seems to be a good one: schedule regular tests and MRIs at progressively longer intervals, provided that each test is the same as the last. First it was six weeks, then four months, then six. Unless I have new symptoms the next one will be a year from now. I'm getting tired of that million-dollar piece of equipment anyway, even the one with the comfy leather sled. I'm ready to have my normal life back.

Before I received the phone call with the radiologist's report, I knew I was in the clear. I watched the technician the whole time during the 40-minute scan session. Through the tilted mirror above my eyes I saw her run the machine. She sat back sometimes, hands behind her head and making idle chat with the others in the room. Every once in a while she would peer into the screen and study it carefully. I'm sure this is when the images of my pituitary area were flicking by. When she didn't see anything she would sit back again and rejoin the conversation in the room. You can tell a lot from reading body language; there wasn't anything for her to see on that screen. The inside of my head is now as boring as anything on television.

When I came home I said to MJ, "It went fine. This feels like the last one. This is the end of something, and I don't know how I know that. I just do."

The call from the radiologist came later and it was an afterthought. Not even one percent of me was worried. Then we took Noah, our Newfoundland, for a walk. In dog years, Noah is quite the senior citizen now. His walks are just around the corner and back. He has creaky joints and problem kidneys but his spirit is strong, so very strong, always doing everything he can to muster energy to get to the next tree, then the next, then the next so he can come home and beg for treats and green bean snacks all day.

Many have praised my positive spirit the past two years, but—honestly—I can only thank my teacher for that.