No. Bad. Monkeys!!!

I have been remiss in updating the results of my latest scans done in the search for bad monkeys. There’s been some other stuff going on in my life, so I’ll just take this quiet moment to take a breath, compose myself, and scream NO BAD MONKEYS!!!!
The MRI of my leg, site of the original bad monkey uprising, shows no evidence of a return to the scene of the crime. I wouldn’t return either if someone had come in slicing and dicing like my surgeon did. Still, one worries. Well, I suspect the one that worries most is actually my surgical oncologist. I’m pretty sure those monkeys won’t be back, especially not there.
The other scan was a CT scan of my chest, because it is thought that the bad monkeys are attracted to the open caverns of the lungs. Not sure why. Maybe there is more space to swing from things and fling poo and such. At any rate, above mentioned surgical oncologist keeps wanting to scan my chest in case any of the bad monkeys try setting up shop there. And there was some concern as a CT scan I had done last spring for a completely unrelated thing (I decided to have a stroke because life just wasn’t interesting enough with only cancer) showed a small “nodule” at the apex of one of my lungs.
Well, the report of the CT scan of my chest showed NO BAD MONKEYS! there either! As my god-daughter would say, booyah!
Having repeated scans can produce a lot of anxiety – scanxiety some call it. But when they come back clear it really helps one look forward and feel confident. This has given me a spring in my step, even in the surgically altered leg, as I head towards spring.
No bad monkeys is good monkeys.


Songs From The Scanners

One of the fun aspects of being a cancer adventurer is the long arc of follow-up scans, as the oncologists perform their sworn duty of looking for the return of the bad monkeys. They take this very seriously, and sometimes seem so sure that these bad monkeys will return, that in turn you start believing it too. That’s not a good thing. Like anything else in life, you tend to attract what you focus on; worrying about bad monkeys returning is almost like flashing a neon sign that says “Bad Monkeys, enter here!”
But it is hard not to feel that worry and fear, the “scan-xiety”, when you do these check ups, as that is the reason to just being there, being shuttled into a machine and x-rayed or probed with magnetic imaging. There is no way to pretend they are not looking for trouble – that is exactly what they are doing! The trick is to develop a mental attitude of, “You can look all you want but you won’t find any more bad monkeys!” and BELIEVE it.
Yesterday, I went to the Cancer Clinic and spent a merry day exploring different machines and technology. First I had a Crazy Talk scan (that would be a CT scan in medical lingo) of my chest, as once upon a time I had a stroke and the CT scan for that showed a little something, possibly a bad monkey, lurking in one of my lungs. They don’t know a lot about my cancer, but there is some thought that the lungs are a place the bad monkeys may migrate to, so they like to zap my chest with radiation to make sure I don’t have any abnormalities that may be caused by something like being zapped by radiation, in which case I’d need even more radiation to fix that. Crazy talk.
The CT scan is rather simple and somewhat amusing. You lay on a flat surface that can be remotely moved to slide into a round opening in a large cylinder and the x-ray camera spins rapidly around your entire body, creating an in-depth image of your insides, where you may have stored long-lost treasure. Or where bad monkeys may be hiding, feasting on some of that treasure.
There is a Pac-Man like face that lights up on the outside of the cylinder, to tell you when to breathe or when to hold your breath. A recorded voice also tells you, to make it easier for you to do your part. Fortunately, this voice is mainly benevolent and doesn’t say “Breathe in, hold your breath.” and then not say “Breathe!” until an hour later. I am always so eager to please, I’d probably be holding my breath still, if it chose not to give me permission to breathe again.
The CT scan was fairly quick, then it was time to get back into my street clothes and go to another floor and see if I had learned how to better tie a hospital gown at the back.
The Monkey Residual Inspection machine, or MRI in medical speak, is very similar to the CT machine, except this one uses powerful magnets to create an image of all those hidden treasures. That’s the simple version – it is a bit more complicated than that, having to do with messing with your atoms to create a detailed drawing of what you looked like before they started messing with your atoms.
I am fortunate, if one can use that word, that my original tumour was in my leg. This means only my lower half is slid into the tube of the MRI machine. My late partner had cancer in her face – she had to endure having her head in the centre of that small space.
It is LOUD too. I’m not sure exactly why. Something to do with the magnets changing frequency, although I suspect that it is a way for Siemens, the company that built the MRI machine the Cancer Clinic has, to increase their hearing aid business. They make those too, and I think if I have to endure many more of these scans I will need one.
They give you earplugs to lessen the noise, and then headphones over those so you can hear the technician, who hides in a safe little room like they do in all these scanning places. The problem is, the direct line to the technician picks up all the machine noise, and thus brings it right INTO your ear through the headphones! I had to move the headphones aside, close enough so I could still hear her, but not so close that the noise was deafening me. I told her about that afterwards and she seemed surprised. I guess no one has complained about that before?
The noise from an MRI machine sounds a bit like the greatest hits from an Industrial band. I liked some of the beats. Some were just out-and-out discordant though. I was pretty glad to get to the end of the album.
They say MRIs are relatively safe, provided you are not part cyborg or full of shrapnel from the war. Because this is a powerful magnet, apparently it has a knack of drawing these otherwise embedded metals out of your body to it, no matter what vital organs may be in the way. I made sure I removed my precious metals before the procedure.
But what unnerved me was the actual magnetic fields in my body changing. I could feel the powerful currents in my lower half. At one point it felt like my leg was actually being moved by the current, even though they had tied my feet together – oh good! bondage! – and placed a contraption over my legs to hold them still – aww, that kind of bondage doesn’t work for me.
We are energetic beings. Our bodies use our electrical current to operate all the bits and pieces properly. I could tell having an MRI messed my current up severely. I felt somewhat nauseous and headachey after, I tasted metal in my mouth, and my whole being felt out of balance. Last time I had one of these monkey searches done I never did “reset” myself, but yesterday I did what I had learned as “brushing” my energy, to try to get it all moving in the right direction again. Still, I have booked a Reiki session because I can feel my whole body is now out of whack in an energetic way.
Of course, it is hard to quantify reactions like this, so the medical people tend to dismiss them as not being real, but it sure felt real to me. When you tune in to your own fields and body more mindfully you do notice what changes when you do scans like this. One thing I noticed was when I closed my eyes I could see violet light getting smaller or leaving in waves outward. That is a reversed direction to what I have seen in a Reiki or other healing sessions. I tried to will the energy the other way but all I could do was slow it down. It felt like I was LOSING energy while I was in the MRI scanner.
The good news was that no bad monkeys were found in my leg, the site of the original tumour. I could have told them that. Maybe next time I will.
It’s a hard call to make – do you let them keep looking with their infernal machines, their bad monkey finding machines, their bad monkey attracting machines, or do you take a chance and decide you no longer need to have a cancer adventure? Sometimes, perhaps that is all you may need as the biggest step to health – a firm belief that you are healthy. It is very, very hard to believe that with your entire mind, spirit, and body though. The images of bad monkeys cannot be easily shaken from your memory.
It is a memory full of enough fear to make a person lay in a large tube and listen to harsh Industrial tunes and have your natural waves messed around with. The fear of bad monkeys never really goes away, once you have encountered them in this life.

monkey afraid

The Search For Hidden Monkeys

Now that my insurgent tribe of bad monkeys has been, literally, taken out, along with their whole neighbourhood (sorry about that folks!), I have my oncologist team chomping at the bit wanting to do a thorough search for any monkeys who may be hiding elsewhere in my body, or perhaps who escaped the initial search and remove, and will come back in the same area to attempt to resurrect the rebellion. I think they call that “returning to the scene of the crime”. Or local recurrence, in boring medical speak.

So my surgical oncologist has scheduled me for the first of my follow-up scans in June; an MRI of the battlefield area to check for any monkey stupid or brazen enough to pop his head up from that shattered place, and a scan of my chest, because apparently the chest area is like an irresistible tavern of plenty for monkeys looking for trouble.

My oncologist wanted me to do a CT scan of my chest. I did one back in January that showed all quiet on the breastren front (ok, I know that was bad). I intend to keep it that way! But I do understand the need to check once in a while, because bad monkeys can be sneaky monkeys and start a party in a once quiet neighbourhood. It’s best to shut those down before it gets out of hand.

Okay, so my monkeys have morphed from insurgents to partiers. I guess the motivations are different, but the results are still the same – chaos, anarchy, and a mess.

At any rate, that they must be watched is the consensus, but I do have an issue with the call for a CT scan of my chest this soon after the last one. I have heard that a CT scan can expose you to up to 400 times more radiation than a simple film scan. My GP heard my concerns about that and shook his head and said “No. Not at all. More like 75 times.” as if that made it ok.

I did some of my own research and found this cool little site that may or may not be accurate, like the rest of the web world. But it does reaffirm what I have been told as far as radiation comparisons.

Well, seeing as radiation is like bananas to monkeys… it made little sense for me to expose myself to that amount of radiation once a year for ten years. My GP did agree that seemed excessive for the very remote chance, as described by my oncologist and what little literature there is on Low Grade Fibromyxoid Sarcoma, that this could metastasize in my lungs. Even my surgeon had agreed, right before surgery, to do a film scan this time instead of a CT scan, but I had to email his assistant after and get a scheduled CT scan changed to a film x-ray, as per our last-minute before surgery agreement (he was probably hoping I wouldn’t remember that deal, what with all the drugs and all).

And then I got another reminder to have a CT scan. Now I know that a CT scan will show them more, but this is kind of like asking for trouble in my opinion. It’s like driving a truck load of bananas to my nice quiet neighbourhood and shouting aloud “I sure hope there are no bad monkeys around here!!!” If there is a monkey or two still lurking, one could imagine their ears perking up and noses sniffing the air, and soon they will be looking for where we stashed those bananas. And then it’s party time in my lungs!

So I will have to resist my oncologist’s enthusiasm to find new monkeys. I think because this cancer is so rare and not well documented, there is a temptation for him to make a splash in his field. I know it’s not about ego, entirely, but about helping others, but me being dead sooner because of over zealousness in the radiation department isn’t going to help me. Sometimes just saying no is what a girl has to do!

If my oncologist could, I suspect he’d shrink himself like in the movie The Fantastic Voyage, and enter my body in his little craft, seeking and destroying bad monkeys. I’m not sure I would trust him though. Being a surgeon, he seems to like rearranging bits and pieces (that’s a post for another time), so I’d be worried he might use the little laser guns or whatever he has on his tiny ship, to rearrange my insides. Which may be beneficial, and in fact just what I need – lord knows they must be kind of messed up with 5 decades of careless living – but I’d rather be able to keep my oncologist where I can see him and keep an eye on what he is doing.

It’s easy for them – in fact he used that term, when I asked him during the primary tumour removal surgery if he would take out a wider margin too, and he replied it wasn’t prudent if we didn’t know it was malignant, and it would be “easy” for him to go back in later and do a wider margin, to which I replied “Sure. Easy for YOU!” – but at the end of the day, they go home or go golfing or working on their shrinking formulas or whatever they do…. and I go home with MY body. I can’t leave my body, no matter how many substances I abuse, or how much I transcend. I am kind of stuck in it, so I’d like to make sure that I don’t just let people come in and tromp around and leave their mess. I’m the one who has to live with the mess.

But I know bad monkeys can leave a bigger mess and cause more damage, if they are allowed to run rampant (and they LIKE to run rampant!), so I do need to do my best to make informed decisions about how often and how thoroughly we go looking for those monkeys. It can be very tricky to know what to do, so I often listen to my inner voice and this time it is telling me… do not bring truck loads of nice ripe bananas to your lungs. Monkeys are sure to follow.