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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Covering the bases

Just to make sure that no proverbial stone was left unturned, Kaiser scheduled my wife for two consultations (not one, but two). One was with a radiation oncologist. The other was with a thoracic surgeon. Now I surmise that within the parameters of medical propriety, there is room for a little salesmanship for one discipline over against the other.

If Barbara were to authorise action against this schwannoma by her spine, the question is should we bomb it with radiation, or should we cut the whole thing out. Not surprisingly the radiation oncologist listed the benefits of his approach. It is not as invasive. It would not shrink the tumor, but it would stop its growth. A few sittings a week for a few weeks and it would all be over.

But the surgeon seemed to think it would be easy to extract this thing with arthroscopic methods. Just a couple little holes, inject a light and a camera and go for it. He warned us that if we allow it to grow into the spine it would get more complicated. He also suggested that if (and there is a very high degree of improbability) this tumor is or becomes malignant, the biopsy would not have detected that because only a small tissue sample is taken. When the tumor is removed the whole specimen is sent to the lab and it becomes certain that there were no cancerous cells.

We arranged the appointments to occur on the same day since this facility is in Hollywood. One was in the morning and the other in the afternoon. We thought it might be nice to have lunch in Hollywood between appointments. Of course we could not find our "Entertainment" coupon booklet. I'm sure there are some eateries in Hollywood who advertise in this book. So we let our GPS tell us what was available in the neighborhood. Well, since this GPS is now two years old we have discovered that these things get out of date. We must have tried three different restaurants listed in this thing, and all of them were long gone. We found a little Italian hole in the wall that turned out to be a nice establishment. My eggplant parmigiana and Barbara's cheese raviolis were excellent.

It seems that it is hard to decide where to eat in a strange neighborhood, and it is just as difficult to decide how to handle a benign tumor. We have already decided to wait until December and scan it again to see if there is noticable growth. We will make a decision then.

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