Thursday, June 23, 2011

So many posts... so little time!

 That's right, this may be the most I have posted in one month ever! Yes, it may have something to do with being incapacitated after back surgery and tiring quickly once I am up walking around. That will be over by the end of the week though, and I am excited about that!
 So while I lay here in my bed, it gives me time to think up crazy thoughts and plans that will most likely never come to fruition, but if they do it would be pretty cool. I think my husband would love these ideas since he is a bit of a day dreamer too. (Some people call it A.D.D. I think.)
 Wouldn't it be sweet if we could get an American car company to sponsor a drive across the US? And do a video blog about our adventures? Point out little shops along the way that make all American made products and meet all sorts of interesting people along the way? Proving that American made is possible and cool? With Nate's quick editing abilities and camera knowledge we could turn quick videos at all sorts of cool spots across the US! I guess Alaska and Hawaii are a little harder to hit on the US tour, but if Ford or GM could foot the bill I guess it wouldn't be too hard to get a car where we needed it. Test drive their different vehicles in different states, or just keep the same car the whole time to show how durable it is!
 I'm just saying, has anyone done this before? Because I am thinking it would get great publicity and would be one great advertising/ pr campaign. And of course I would be glad to step up and coordinate this PR stunt of a life time! It would be like an Elizabethtown type road trip, with all sorts of quirky stops and exciting adventures. I'd love to do it someday. It would be a lot of driving, but I think it would be a blast to go all over and find "the heart of america". Whether people, places, or things, the great and praiseworthy things happening across the USA!
 So anyone out there at a US car company reading... you better snatch Nate and I up on this awesome idea before another company does. Prove you have what it takes to be the #1 American car company! Dodge, *cough cough* I saw the JD Power and Associates report and you are smack bottom. Just call me, we'll come help.
 That or Nate and I will just have to take this trip when we get old in an RV... either way, you better be prepared Nate... cause it is soo happening!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sclerotherapy Part 2

 It looks like all your prayers and well wishes have done wonders. Nate and my Dad gave me a blessing before the surgery saying everything would go well.

It did.

 In what ended up being a 15 minute procedure, they injected exactly where they needed to and believe they have reached enough of the malformation that I shouldn't have to go back for any more treatments! So while I am sore today and possibly sore for the next couple weeks, this thing should be shrinking up quite nicely.
 So goodbye to you Morty. We have not had a good time together, and I will NOT miss you one bit! They have me wrapped like a mummy/ burrito at the present moment and I'm not sure how the lady's of old wore corsets. I am pretty sure this thing is worse and may be limiting the oxygen levels in my brain. I am excited that this time around I had no nausea at all, no unnecessary cuts from my spine to my side, and I don't have to miss any big events! I get to go to my brothers' birthday celebration (brothers plural, I am celebrating for Adam even though he won't be present), and we are eating at Kabuto's! I love it when they cook your food in front of you and do all those little tricks!
 I better stop typing. I can tell the drugs are still in my system because I keep thinking I am writing one thing and type something completely different. Time to go back to sleep!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sclerotherapy Part 1

 Tomorrow I go in for my first treatment for this monstrosity on my back. They call it sclerotherapy. Basically they stick you with a bunch of needles and inject in a variety of things that cause the malformation to become inflamed and harden. I hope that is a good thing. I'm assuming it is, even though it sounds really yucky and I've never heard of inflammation being a good thing. I can't remember if the doctor ever told me, but I think I have an arteriovenous malformation. In a language I understand, it means there are abnormal connections between my arteries and veins, causing a high flow, pulsating collection of blood vessels. AKA a strange mass in my chest cavity and back.
 The way the doctor explained it is the arteries and veins couldn't make up their minds what to be, so they decided to be something in between the two and start a pool to hang out it. Like all lazy beings, they decided to recruit others surrounding them to do their work, or fill the pool. Only problem is the greedy little things keep trying to expand the pool and steal the supply to normal, helpful parts of the body.
 Luckily for me, it has not adversely affected any other parts of the body. (Unless you count my brain, which has not has a whole lot of sleep in the past few months... for further explanation, see earlier posts about planning a wedding, having my back sliced open by a crazy butcher doctor for no reason, and sleeping next to a man who snores and tries to carry on conversations in his sleep. I sure do love that man though.) So we are going to start therapy so it doesn't decide to do so.
 I have been asked what this procedure entails and what it is all about, so I am writing a blog to give you the basic scoop.
 Here are the highlights according to John Hopkins:
-Arteriovenous malformations may cause pain. They are also more stressful on the heart because of the rapid shunting of blood from arteries to veins. Depending on their location, they may also result in bleeding. * I am not bleeding, so this is very good news!*
-Although surgery is sometimes useful, it is usually difficult for surgeons to completely remove vascular malformations, which will return if not removed completely. *Found that out the hard way* A nonsurgical method of closing down the blood or lymph flow into the malformation is done by interventional radiologists, who treat patients with image guided procedures. Vascular malformations are treated by embolization.
The AVMs can be closed by advancing a tiny plastic tubing, no larger than a pencil point, into the feeding artery to the malformation. This can be done without incisions or stitches, and with only mild sedation. Medical glue or alcohol or small beads are then floated into the malformation until it is full and no longer has blood flowing through it.
The VMs and LMs are closed by injecting alcohol into the sacs filled with venous blood or lymph until these sacs collapse and no longer fill. 
- The recovery time varies. The arteriovenous malformations can be treated with a one night hospital stay. There is usually minimal discomfort for one to three days. 
*If however it is a mix, which the doc thought it may be* The venous and lymphatic malformations also require one night in the hospital. These malformations swell after treatment with alcohol, and the swelling and pain may last for 3-5 days.  During this time, we give patients medication for any pain or swelling they may have. The full shrinkage of these malformations may take four to six weeks. *Also I was told I should be able to go home without a stay overnight- your prayers are appreciated in regards to this matter*

-AVMs are more difficult to treat since they tend to pull in new artery feeders from time to time. However, embolization is very effective in blocking abnormal artery feeders while preserving normal arteries. AVMs may require a series of treatments to block all of the abnormal feeders. *Lucky me, mine will haha*
Venous and lymphatic malformations respond well to alcohol embolization. These may also require a series of treatments about 6 weeks apart to block all of the abnormal vessels.
All vascular malformations require long term surveillance, so that if there is any change, such as pregnancy, they can be monitored for symptoms that may warrant rechecking and possibly retreating. We monitor PAVMs over time to be sure they collapse and do not refill. 
-Since congenital vascular malformations are relatively rare, it is probably advisable to obtain treatment at a major center that sees many patients. *Hence my lovely ongoing battle with Anthem and Duke every day to try and get my procedure covered.
 So there you have it folks. It should be no big deal, right? I am just amazed at the whole process of how the human body develops and how things can deviate from the normal blueprint of body functions. And furthermore, that doctors have developed ways to combat and fix so many problems when bodies don't function the way they should. It's pretty amazing to think about.
 I am going to try and sleep now. I doubt I'll get much tonight, but I think I'll feel much better once N gets home and I have someone to snuggle with. Wish me luck everyone!