Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Preparing To Attack An Old Enemy

For a long time now, almost since the beginning of my first hospital stay, I have been taking 10mg Oxycontin every 12 hours, to manage the pain in my lower ribs on the left side. After the surgery on the T8 vertebra and the subsequent radiation therapy directed at the region of T8, this pain was supposed to gradually go away. But that hasn't happened. So now it's time to get to the bottom of what's causing it, and determine whether there are any reasonable remedial actions that can be taken to eliminate it.

To that end, I spent a good portion of today getting thoracic X-rays and a thoracic bone scan. The latter is a nuclear imaging technology that involves injecting the patient with some radioactive material and then waiting for three hours while this material is absorbed in varying degrees by the bones and other tissues. The patient is then placed under a scanner (in my case, for about 45 minutes) that creates 3D images based on these variations in "uptake". Variations caused by tumors, stress fractures, etc. cause such artifacts to show up in the images.

The X-rays and bone scan images have been turned over to the neurosurgeon who performed the original ballon kyphoplasty procedure on T8 back in June. I have an appointment with him next Monday to hear what he has to say about what they reveal (or don't) about the cause of the rib pain; and what, if any, recommendations he can make with respect to making it go away.

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