Tag Archives: PET Scans

Returning to the Donut….MMMMMMM….Donuts.

11 Aug

About a year ago, I posted the news of my impending, and what now seems to have become an annual, Petscan. Well, it’s time for another one.  A text to my oncologist in late  June began the process.  Three weeks later, when I hadn’t even received a notice from my insurance company delaying the procedure (a common occurence),  I texted my oncologist again and learned that either he or the folks at the lab slightly misspelled my name.  So some guy named Eric Greenburg, or Erich Greenberg, or Erick Greenburgh got a referral for my scan.  So we began again.  This time, success!  A week after my text, the insurance company sent me an e-mail delaying my procedure by 45 days while they research the need for the test.  Then a week later, the referal arrived. Earlier this week I called the scan place,  spoke to the same guy I spoke to last year (which was kind of comforting), and made my appointment.  Thursday, August 18th, first thing in the morning. 

And so the process begins.  On Wednesday morning I start a 24 hour carb fast.  Not even a piece of fruit until I am done with the scan on the 18th.  On the 18th I am given radioactive sugar, and then placed into what looks like a large donut as they test the size and metabolic activity of my tumor (a structure that one of my friends assures me is my ancestors seeking to live close to my heart–I love that idea).   Then scantasia begins, my family’s celebratory embrace of all the carbs I couldn’t eat the day before.  A flavored coffee and muffin in the morning, Italian food at night.  Then we wait a week for the results, which I am always nervous about no matter how certain I am of thier positive outcome, and, God willing, have Scantasia part 2, the celebration of good news.

As you may recall, last year in an effort to drag all of you into my life and my concerns, I called on all of you to make the day before my scan a carb-filled wonderland for you and yours.  You may not think that stuff like that matters, but  I certainly can’t argue with the results of the scan.  So I am calling on all of you to return to this evolving tradition.  On Wednesday, August 17th, I call on all of my family and friends to double down on their carb intake.  Have some pizza, some pasta, a hoagie (or sub, or grinder). If you are a hipster, please curate a selection of locally brewed, artisinal IPAs and the drink every last one of them.  Or, if you’re like me, have a whole mess of cookies.  When you do, I will feel your good wishes, and that helps my state of mind a lot.  Maybe this year you could take some pictures of your carbs and share them on Facebook?  It might seem like a cruel taunt at my carbless existence, but I think I would dig it. 

Whatever you choose to do or not do, just know that I appreicate your interst, kindness, and support. Naturally I will share the results of the scan as soon as I get them.

As Always….Stay Tuned.



A Less Than Modest Proposal

2 Sep

Baagel Doughnut

In an effort to generate a little positive energy and test the boundaries of my considerable hubris, I would like to declare September 2nd“Eat Carbs for Erik” day.

As some of you may recall, I have my PET scan on Thursday the 3rd.  For those not familiar with the process, the PET depends upon the fact that tumors and other forms of inflammation metabolize sugar at much greater rates than the rest of your body.  The day before the procedure you abstain from all carbohydrates, and on the day of the scan, the medical technician pumps a syringe of radioactive sugar into your bloodstream, which then gets quickly metabolized by your tumor.  So that’s what I’m getting ready for, and it begins with a day without carbs…then a 6 am check in, a 7:30 or so injection, an 8:30 scan, and a 9:30 muffin and caramel latte.  Then we await the results, which I hope and pray are good, and then on to Scantasia!

I call on all readers of my blog, all people in my social universe, indeed all people on the planet to spend September 2nd ingesting and enjoying bready, sugary, creamy, carby treats. And when you do, please think of me. Have a bagel for me!  Have a doughnut for me.  Have a waffle, a roll,  or a pancake for me!  Have a cookie for me, actually, take two, they’re small.  Overcome your South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Gluten abstinence, 21st century diets and dive into the cornucopia of carbs.  And when you do, when you taste that delicious sweetness, send some positive thoughts my way.  I swear I will feel them.  Who knows, maybe I will even taste them!  And I will be forever grateful. 

As Always….stay tuned.

A Blessing in Disguise: My Postponed Petscan and Our Difficult Summer

15 Aug

WIN_20131105_064915If you’re doing the math and paying scrupulous attention to my scanning schedule, then you’ve probably noticed that I am a few months behind on my biannual scanathon (scansation, scancapade?).  In truth, if you are doing the math and paying attention to those kinds of details, you probably need to develop some hobbies to pass your time more pleasantly….but I digress.  Over the spring, several friends and family suggested I ask the oncologist if I really needed to be seen twice a year, or could we move to an annual scan schedule.  He did not go for it, and suggested I have the PET in August instead of June.  At the time a two month reprieve felt like a pretty lame consolation prize, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 

As some of you know, May and June were an incredibly difficult time for the West Coast Greenbergs. July and much of August were no picnic either, but May and June were brutal. For those who have followed our family’s comings and goings on Facebook, you know that Amy was terribly ill with pancreatitis, a brutally painful condition that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  Seriously, over the course of my life I have only witnessed three people suffer tremendous physical pain. I have a friend who went through extended and unbelievable suffering with some slipped discs in his lower back.  In my father’s last days he suffered greatly from pressure in his brain brought on by a relentless advance of melanoma, and then there’s Amy’s suffering brought on by an inflamed pancreas whose own enzymes were eating away at its tissue.  Just awful. Her’s may have been the worst suffering I have ever witnessed.  

Amy’s illness required a lengthy and arduous recovery. She had two extended stays in hospital, one for four days and one for ten. Both stays required lengthy fasts (the cure for pancreatitis is to give your pancreas a rest, and so Amy was on nothing but IV fluids for four or five days at a time).   She was forced to radically change her diet, dramatically reducing her fat intake and eliminating alcohol altogether.  She lost about 10% of her body weight, and she was out of work for more than a month. Her suffering was heartbreaking, her recovery slow and tense, and the whole experience has left both of us depleted and even a little depressed. There really are no words to express what it’s like to see the women you have spent the better part of your life with, the person you watched bring life into this world, be taken down so powerfully and painfully.  The first morning she was in the hospital, I burst into tears, and I have felt pretty unsteady ever since.  Naturally Amy felt even worse! The whole experience defies explanation, which may be why I have been so reluctant to blog about it.  Only now, over two months after her initial attack, has our family and its routines begun the return to normalcy (whatever that is).

Truth is, nothing about this summer has been normal. We entered this season knowing that towards its close Emma would leave us for a lengthy gap year program in Israel (9 months to be exact).  I am simultaneously thrilled and sad about this.  Thrilled because I think it is a wonderful opportunity for her to strike out on her own so far away from home, to learn new things, meet new people, and to understand what it’s like to live in what I have found to be a wonderful but difficult and frustrating country.  I am sad for a number of reasons, including the fact that the physical distance between us will make all things more difficult, from being able to help her in a time of emergency to just talking on the phone.  I am sadder still because her departure signals the end of an era in our lives.  No matter what happens when Emma returns, if she stays with us for a few more years, or if she heads off to a school a great distance from us, we are fast approaching the moment when our daughter’s interests, employment, and commitments will become more pressing to her than time spent with us.  To be clear, I am not saying that Emma will not dedicate time to her parents, maybe even a lot of time.  Still, I’ve been where she is now.  So many things compete for our attention and interest as we become adults—friends, partners, school, work schedules, children.  These things become all-consuming and make demands of us that often tear us away from our closest and most immediate family. I miss the days when Amy and I were Emma’s whole world—her teachers, protectors, and caretakers, her most hilarious entertainment, her tour guides through life, and her most comforting security blankets. No doubt our relationship began to change years ago, but her upcoming departure (less than two weeks from the time I wrote this piece) has reinforced just how fluid and uncertain our roles in Emma’s life have become.

Ultimately, not having my scan in June turned out to be a blessing.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to add the stress and worry that invariably accompanies my scan (no matter how confident I am of its positive outcome) with the tremendous stress and worry we all felt about and for Amy and the difficult mix of joy, sadness, and uncertainty that surrounds Emma’s trip to Israel.  Nevertheless it has to be done, and it will be soon enough.  Per his request, I recently texted my oncologist. The imaging office called me a few days later to set up the appointment.  September 2nd is my carb free day, and my scan takes place early on the 3rd.  The results show happens sometime the following week, and shortly thereafter, God willing, Scantasia, our semiannual celebration of what I hope will be continued good news.  

By that time, Amy, Emma, and I will be about a week into our new lives, each of us trying to adapt to the significant shift in our family dynamic.  The one thing that I know that will not change is our love for each other.  When I told Emma of my impending scan, she insisted that I call her the minute I get the results.  That request was extremely comforting, and naturally I will reach out to her and the rest of my family the minute I hear the news.  Shortly after that, I will tell all of you.  Your continued prayers and words of support mean a great deal to me.  Now, more than ever, everyone in my family could use some good wishes and positive vibes. 

As always….stay tuned.

My Return to Scan-Land

23 Nov


This used to be a blog about health and well-being, right?  It is again, for at least the next few posts.  Two weeks ago, the calendar in my head clicked off a reminder about my impending biannual PET scan, and I got the scheduling process underway.  A quick text to my doctor was followed a few days later with a reply apologizing for the delay and an assurance that my paperwork was being processed.  Then, while I was in the middle of composing a lengthier post complaining about the ways that my medical group tends to delay these decisions, I got my approval in the mail.  All that remains is the scheduling, my abstaining from carbs for 24 hours, the injection of radioactive sugar into my bloodstream, the scan itself, and, of course, the results show. I’ve begun my journey down the rabbit hole into scan-land, and I won’t come out the other end for another week or so at the earliest.

When I first started writing this post I tried to craft some cute and funny stuff about the role these tests play in my life and about the frustration of knowing that no matter how I feel, I will have a scan of my thorax and abdomen every December and July for the rest of my life.  But you know what?  There’s nothing cute and there’s nothing funny about that.  It’s frightening and anxiety producing.

I’m not sure what to say concerning my expectations or feelings about what the scan may find.  I feel pretty good these days, but part of me, no doubt the Jewish part, is afraid to say anything positive or hopeful about the process for fear that the evil eye will sense my confidence and curse me with bad news.  What can I tell you? This is how my mind works.  And yet I can’t just run away from this and not do the procedure. Can I?  My, now, semi-annual PET scan is one of the few moments in my life where I actually face my fears and do the responsible thing.

I’ll keep you posted about the progress and results.  If the past is any prologue, I will find great calm and comfort in the good wishes of my many friends who read this blog or at least take a look at my status on Facebook.  I continue to appreciate your readership, friendship, and care.

And as always…stay tuned.