Friday, October 14, 2005

Whirlwind Day 10/14/05 in the AM

Sometimes when you look back at the twists and turns that comprise a day, you wonder how you ever stayed on course. We scurried out of the house this morning at 7:15 in an attempt to make it to USC by 7:45. We were allready pushing it, but thanks to LA traffic and a preponderance of people who decided to work on a Friday, we were definitely going to be late. We kept joking about the fact that we would arrive only to be told that they decided to give our space to someone who took their cancer a bit more seriously. Thankfully, they took pity on us and took us right back to an exam room. The nurse checked D's vitals and reported that he was in perfect health.

BP - excellent
HR - excellent
Weight - excellent (hadn't even lost anything yet from the liquid diet)
Cancer - Oh yeah, that was bad...

We were only there a few minutes when a very attractive man wearing a sport suit and khaki pants walked in carrying D's CT films. The first thing you notice about Dr. DeMeester is how darn tall he is. I swear, he must be 7 feet tall! He looks like he should be playing for the Lakers instead of performing delicate surgery. He sat down, went over D's medical history and then politely asked if we would like to see why he's having such difficulty swallowing and so much pain in his chest and back. "Um, sure," we said. And up went the CT scans.

"A CT scan shows slices of your body at different points."

"Here, your esophagus looks completely normal."

"Here, you start to see some thickening of the lining and a shrinking of the tube."

"Here, you see that the hole is now quite small."


Dr. DeMeester explained that it appeared like the tumor was differentiated by a plane from both the heart and the spine - a good sign for surgery and containment. However, there were some suspicious lymph nodes around the esophagus, and he wasn't really satisfied with the quality of the CT scan from our local hospital - something about going from the top of the liver to the middle of the liver with no pictures in between. Nevertheless, he seemed fairly confident that the cancer hadn't gone into the liver or the lungs - also a very good thing.

He also said that Dalton had adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and that it was caused by years of reflux wearing down the lining and causing Barret's esophagus which then leads to cancer. He said that it wasn't caused by anything Dalton did or didn't do and that its rate of occurence in the United States was growing faster than any other cancer, affecting primarily young, caucasian men in otherwise good health. We laughed about Dalton always wanting to be on the cutting edge of a new trend and how it would have been nice if he could have let this one pass him by.

To make a long story short (or at least bearable), Dr. DeMeester wants to get a few more tests - PET/CT scan and esophageal ultrasound - in order to be sure it hasn't spread beyond the esophageal area and then schedule surgery for mid-November when he returns from an oversees conference. He tells Dalton to avoid all solid food and enjoy as many ice cream shakes ("the good stuff not the lowfat crap") that he can bear in order to keep his weight up. He writes a prescription for a pint of liquid vicodin and says we'll hear from his nurse later that day regarding the scheduling of tests. Thank you and have a nice day!


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