Alicia and I have a had a fairly productive quarantine. We’ve already finished watching Tiger King. I’ve got my guitar pedals rearranged. As I type these words Alicia is power washing the deck, and our angry dachshund is standing at the edge of the couch, barking ferociously at a leaf blowing across a street about three miles away.
Last week we headed back to Mayo Clinic for routine appointments, though we were hesitant to make the trip for obvious reasons. So far, we’ve been very good about not leaving the house, and the thought of potentially exposing ourselves to COVID-19 just for going to my regular doctor appointment was a little scary. Pandemic aside, I haven’t been feeling myself for the past few weeks – so I was hell-bent on getting my MRI over with to confirm that everything was fine.
I’ve mentioned how I’ve been experiencing more fatigue in my last few blog posts – but starting about the middle of February I began experiencing even more fatigue, brain fog, and confusion than I normally do. I started losing more weight than normal. I attributed everything to stress related to a trade show I was handling at work. It’s like the super bowl of my job, so naturally it can be stressful. When I got home from the trade show and still felt crappy, I attributed it to the stress of our new quarantine routine, and the uncertainty of what the future holds as we navigate this new normal.
Last week Alicia and I packed our hand sanitizer and face masks and headed to Rochester. A few of my regular appointments associated with my visits to Mayo were cancelled due to the pandemic, so I would just get my blood drawn and MRI scan at this appointment. The plan was for my doctor to call me with results of the scan later on in the day. To minimize our risk of virus exposure, Alicia waited in the car while I went in to the hospital.
Arriving at the hospital was like waking up in a dystopian, apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Like when the main character wakes up in the empty hospital in 28 Days Later. Upon walking through the doors of
Chernobyl Mayo Clinic I was greeted by people in masks asking me questions about COVID-19 symptoms and taking my temperature. Once they verified I had an appointment, they gave me a sticker to wear around the hospital to show that I was good to go. Mayo Clinic was a ghost town! Clearly, many appointments had been cancelled in light of everything going on, and so I had the place to myself. Being a member of the “high-risk” group for complications related to COVID-19, I found it reassuring that they were taking so many precautions to mitigate the virus.
My MRI results were great! No sign of recurrence. Favorable scan results aside, my liver counts are really high! Actually, the highest they’ve ever been recorded. My doctor said my high liver enzymes explain why I’ve been so tired and foggy the last few weeks, but he doesn’t want me to continue taking the clinical trial medicine until we ensure that my liver is working OK. He didn’t seem that worried about it. He said that it could be all the chemo has clogged things up a bit and caused my liver to work less efficiently. Or it could be a virus (he assured me it wasn’t Coronavirus). Just to be sure, he is going to schedule an ultrasound on my liver and continue monitoring my blood counts in the coming weeks as we pause taking my Eflornithine (the chemo juice).
I’m really happy about my MRI results, but I’m super anxious about getting to the bottom of whatever is happening with my liver so that I can get out of the tired fog I’m in, so that I can enjoy the spring. As even brain surgeries are being called off in response to the pandemic, I’m confused about how a liver ultrasound and more blood tests fit into essential vs. non-essential hospital visits during these crazy times, but hopefully they can get us in sooner than later, and hopefully rubbing the ultrasound wand on my belly doesn’t give me COVID-19.
In the meantime, while I’m locked up in my house making fun of Alicia for watching Beauty and the Beast ten times a week, I’ve got to stop turning to Google to tell me what my high liver enzymes mean. According to a 1994 study – liver necrosis was a side effect of Eflornithine administration in rats. I’m fairly certain my Chinese zodiac horoscope thing says I was born in the year of the rat. This could only mean that I have liver failure, right? Probably not. But until I know what’s wrong, I don’t know what’s wrong, so it’s got me a little spooked.
After all that we’ve already been through, I am puzzled that I have such a difficult time mustering up the confidence to know that truly, everything will be OK. Time for me to shut the laptop lid, go breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy the day.