Friday, March 20, 2009

Ceviche, kalua pig, and garam masala

Travels, travels, travels!

Hi all! It's been a while since I posted anything here, so I thought I'd drop a line to catch everyone up on what's been going on. It's been a couple months of travel here and there, interspersed with some health scares. I was in Mexico for a bit, then back home, then in Hawaii, back home for a few days, and I just got back from India today. Whew!

A week after my defense (Feb. 20) I went to Mexico for a few days with some buddies from high school (Lisa, Anthony, Charles, Sarah, and Janet). We rented a house in Playa del Carmen and had a relaxing time: did a little sight-seeing, a little beach-laying, and a little snorkeling/scuba diving. Prior to going on the trip, I had an appointment with my thoracic surgeon, who gave me the okay to "do anything I wanted." In my tame mind, that amounted to being able to go swimming, which I thought was a pretty big coup. Anthony and Charles cooked up a storm and kept us very well fed, thanks to Sarah's forethought in bringing a plethora of baggies filled with various spices.

My contribution for the weekend was Bananagrams, a game that amounts to speed-Scrabble without the Scrabble board. You basically start with a bunch of Scrabble tiles, and you form words in Scrabble-style as quickly as you can. When you use up your letters, you say "take two" and everyone takes two more tiles. This goes on until all the tiles are used up and someone has formed words out of all of his or her tiles. Its only link to bananas is that it comes in a banana-shaped pouch (actually, the rules above were ones we made up - the actual rules are a little more complex and involve using banana-related words like "peel" and "split"). In any case, it turned out to be quite the addictive activity and consumed much of our down-time. Anthony posted pics on his Picasa page here.

Can you tell we're in Mexico?

Now can you tell?

So, I came back from Mexico feeling pretty relaxed, though my surgery site was still healing and was still a bit sore. Nevertheless, I decided to see if I could go climbing again. I took it easy the first time and just did very low-effort stuff. The next time I felt better, so I stepped things up a bit, but I noticed that my left groin area was feeling a little sore. I couldn't tell if there was any weird swelling there or not, but I wasn't sure if it was from climbing or something else. It was starting to freak me out a bit, to the point where I kept trying to feel for lumps there. I was scheduled for a CT scan that Monday (Mar. 2) of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis, but I wasn't going to see the doctor until the following Monday. I decided that I wanted to get this thing checked out, so I scheduled an appointment for Wednesday. Luckily, it turned out to be nothing that anyone could feel. My guess is I just strained the muscle a little.

More Paranoia
The follow-up scan turned out to be clear - the pelvis area is clear, the other nodule in the left side is no longer there (actually just barely visible, but it hasn't changed, which is the good part). The right nodules are holding steady at miniscule and minisculer. The pathology from the nodule they removed was no good - same malignancy as before - but they were able to remove the whole thing with good margins. Right now we're in a bit of a holding pattern as we wait to see what happens (or better yet, what doesn't happen). I'm trying to set up an appointment with a doctor in NY to see what other treatment options I might have, but right now treating it without knowing what's there doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I was feeling great about the clear scans, but then I guess someone somewhere decided a break was not entirely in order. The following Sunday I noticed another lump, this time in the right groin area. The weird thing is that it seemed like it would go away when I lay down to sleep at night. It didn't quite feel like the previous lumps I've had, but I was nevertheless freaked out. I went back to my doctor that week and we determined that it was probably a hernia - normally, this would be a huge drag and annoyance, but at this point, anything that's not cancer is a huge relief. We scheduled an ultrasound for later that day, just to get it checked out and make sure. The radiologist confirmed that it was probably just a mild hernia and I should "just ignore it." Right. Anyway, it's not too bothersome, and I was able to go on my next trip to Hawaii (Mar. 12-17) with no problems. Lots of swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and an attempt at surfing. More on this in the next post. . .