I saw Dr M, an orthopedic surgeon, on Thursday. I was told to expect and arrogant and abrupt man but I was pleasantly surprised. He was sympathetic, caring and went out of his way to make phone calls to different oncologists while we waited. Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach anyone.
Here’s the gist of what he had to say. The tumor is located on the right side of my sacrum between L5 and S1. The nerves coming out of those vertebrae and being aggravated by the tumor and that’s why my lower leg is numb and why I feel so much pain in my right leg. The location of the tumor on my spine makes it almost impossible to surgically remove. It is in the sacroiliac joint – where the sacrum joins the pelvis to support the spine. If you cut out that joint, there is nothing to support the spine. He said some other things that Barb wrote down but all I could think of after that is – Fuck! Dr M assured us that he would consult with other specialists and get back to us ASAP.
See that #3? That’s where my tumor is located. The nerves that come out of the holes above and below the #3 are the one causing me all of the pain and numbness. #5 is the right side of the pelvis.
Here’s a different view of the entire pelvis and how the sacrum fits in there.
True to his word, Dr M called me the next day (Friday). I had to take a day to digest the “news” before sharing it. Dr M managed to consult with a radiation oncologist named Dr P who said that a tissue diagnosis (biopsy) of the sacrum is required to proceed any further. Dr P was of the opinion that no surgery should be performed and that both tumors should be treated with radiation and chemotherapy to see how they react. Dr M reminded me that Dr A’s opinion was that the kidney had to be removed.
Clearly opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. I just need a plan.
I told Dr M that I had fractured my sacrum in 1995 and have had sacroiliac joint dysfunction since then and ask if the “tumor” could be something else related to that injury. He said “no, it’s definitely a tumor” (so much for that idea). Dr M said he would speak to Dr F, a spine surgeon at VGH, to get his opinion on potential courses of action. He is still working on contacting him. Dr M told me that I was a unique case and that he would continue to try to find an answer. He said he would call me when he had more information.
So, clearly things aren’t as simple as I had hoped. I know I’ve always been different, unique whatever you want to call it. I remember my Mom telling me stories of my birth and how special I was – kind of like a miracle baby, given the difficulties she had with prior pregnancies. There are many stories of my “uniqueness” growing up as well – I won’t bore you with those. Except for this one, which my friends remind of every season: I grew up French Canadian and I don’t like and have never played ice hockey. WTF!? Yup, its true.
Just this once, I would like to not be unique.