Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cystoscopy, schmistoscopy

Update, Schmupdate

Well, there's never a smooth ride in this business I guess. Things were slightly bumpy this week, although the issue seems to be resolved. I had a couple of isolated incidents of passing blood clots in my urine in the past couple of weeks. It was weird - it happened on separate days, once about two weeks ago, once last week, and once early this week. But since the symptoms seemed similar to what happened when all of this started, I sounded a bit of an alarm with my doctor, and in true fashion she was right on top of things. She scheduled me for an appointment on Monday, I had an MRI on Tuesday, another appointment on Wednesday (this one was already scheduled as a regular check-in before chemo), and a cystoscopy yesterday.

So, you might be wondering what a cystoscopy is. Well, it's a fun little procedure where they take a cystoscope (basically a long tube with a camera at the end), push it up the urethra, and look inside the bladder. Luckily they squirt in some lidocaine gel first to numb things up a bit, so it didn't hurt too much. I was pretty apprehensive going in, partly because I was worried about what they would find, but also because it's been so long since I've had to be poked and prodded that I guess the prospect was a little daunting. The procedure itself was actually pretty quick and only took a few minutes. The only painful parts were the shot of antibiotics I got at the beginning (to prevent infection) and the couple of minutes that the scope was actually in my bladder. The medically-inclined engineer in me was pretty fascinated at being able to see my own bladder on the TV screen. Luckily everything was pretty clear - there was a small calcification that my urologic oncologist (the same doc who did my prostate surgery) said was probably the cause of the bleeding but was nothing to worry about. In fact he knocked it off with the scope by accident and it immediately came out in my urine afterwards. Apparently cells in the bladder can get irritated by chemo/radiation, and when they die off they act as a sort of seed around which calcifications can form.

Anyhow, so that's a load off. My oncologist wanted to make sure the cystoscopy was clear before I went in for chemo, and so here I am, back in the ITA. I'm getting VC (vincristine, cyclophosphamide) this time around, and it's my first time without adriamycin/doxorubicin. Luckily that means I only need to be here for one day, but it still will be the whole day, since I need to get mesna (bladder protectant) at 4 hours and 8 hours after the cyclophosphamide. Ah well, it should be no problem compared to 4 days, and I'm hoping the side effects will be minimal compared to the other chemo drugs. I was watching the olympics for a little bit, but then Martha Stewart came on and I promptly changed the channel.

Well that's it for now. Hope you're all doing well out there and making the most of the waning summer months!

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