Well, welcome to 2021 and another year of pandemic life.
So getting back to the brain tumor, it was re-checked right at Thanksgiving 2020 and there was suspicion it had grown. Back down to Mayo for additional workup and monitoring. Since we’re are all remote, this was a little easier as I just worked from the hotel in between appointments.
Mayo did discover the tumor has grown slightly and will need to be monitored every 6-12 months. They also saw some pretty bad stenosis in my up and lower back, so it was off to physical therapy to see if it would help. This is where 2021 turned into medical hell.
I fight nausea nearly every day. It’s usually controlled with medicine, but during PT myself and my therapist noticed the spells came on more quickly. There had to be some connection there. Vertigo? Possibly since it’s never been ruled out. But this seemed to be much more. Fast forward to May 12, 2021, I am working with my therapist on core strength exercises and this is when it happens – a full-on nausea spell where I can barely stand up let alone drive back home. Given the pandemic, I had been doing the best I could to stay out of the ER. So My therapist graciously let me chill and take meds so I could get back to the house.
The nausea spells became non-stop at this point. Any small movement would set them off, so I begin by seeing my primary doc, then GI, then more freaking tests. It wasn’t until my 2nd trip to the ER that it was discovered I had three hernias, one being an umbilical with trapped fat. If you kept up with the medical systems and the vaccination requirements they had put in place, employees were told to get vaccinated or tested weekly. Sadly a scheduler quit over this policy, and all scheduling came to a halt. So for three freaking months, I was basically bedridden or if I could make it to the couch, that is where I stayed. Appetite – GONE. Fatigue – the highest level I had experienced. Fast forward to August when I finally had the surgery and then began recovery. During all of the testing over the summer, a lesion on my kidney seemed to be cause for concern as well. So another specialist I am off to see. They did a workup and the standard CT and noticed it had been there for a while but had grown. Time for an MRI – again delayed by scheduling troubles. Finally, in October I had the MRI completed and the report in my chart as I was leaving the hospital. Once I read the report, I instantly knew what they were saying. “Suspected Renal Cell Carcinoma” aka Kidney Cancer.
So I call Mom and tell her while I am on the way home, and surprisingly didn’t break down then. The next day, I get a call to see the kidney oncologist to review the results. The oncologist was awesome (as much as a visit could be) and he explained that the lesion appears to be localized on the outside of my kidney, facing my stomach. We discussed options, and are moving forward with a Cryo-Ablation. This is now slated for 2022 as the procedures are only done once a week with two doctors – my kidney oncologist and a surgeon at the hospital. Now, this is where I broke down and let it all come out. Having to tell my close friends and work colleagues brought out all the emotions.
During the summer my aunt passed away unexpectedly, which means on top of all the medical, I also was dealing with my aunt’s funeral and estate that I inherited. More on how this went down in a separate post.
So I made it through the year, and finally got the vacation that was much needed. I had been saving up for this trip especially since it is a new Carnival ship that matches more of what you see on other ships. The Carnival Mardi Gras. I also got to help my dear friend Chad celebrate his 40th birthday with a day at EPOCT before we headed off to Port Canaveral to board the ship for our Christmas cruise. Not a bad way to end a turbulent year!