Medical Procedures Reviewed With Elizabeth: Angiograms! MAA radiation!

I like to review my gross medical procedures because i am made of fun.


here is a pretty much unrelated image of my fig tree. on my balcony.

SO. yesterday, i had an angiogram as a ‘work up’ for the implantation of Sirtex Spheres into my liver.  late last week was spectacularly fun, with an emergency CT scan in response to a rapid rise in my tumour markers.  CT scan illustrated that, confusingly and excellently, there was no evidence of any growth in any of my tumours, or additional mets.  so, go figure.  thanks body, you weird sack of cancer and goo.

angiograms are in the long list of medical procedures that ick me out a bit.  they cut open your groin after a really goddamn painful local anaesthetic and shove a cannula/THING of some sort up the artery and into the organ being stared out. in this case, my liver. they flooded my liver first with contrast, to illustrate that, despite my spectacular cancer load, the arteries and veins in my liver are in great shape and easy to locate where they feed into the tumours, minus the perpetually miserable Sector 1 Tumour of DOOM that is still the reason behind my lack of resection.  they couldn’t work out the blood flow. why is it such a weird tumour? no one knows.  anyhow.

they then pump in radiation, and take you over for another scan.  due to my level of terror, they kindly gave me sedation, and after about 20 seconds of terror, i could no longer focus my eyes and just stared off into space, going to my happy place; or, more realistically, the blank place in my mind which i go to when i’m pumped with sedation.  i don’t overly enjoy the sensation, but it’s exceedingly helpful while they are feeding a tube into your liver and flooding it with contrast.

the nice doctor pal then pressed into my groin for about ten minutes to stop the artery bleeding. blood got everywhere.  it was pretty gross. medical procedures are gross. i sometimes wish i could be all like, ‘and then i looked spectacularly sexy and strolled off into the night, eyes ablaze with promise of what the future holds and of my own greatness. I hold my successes in one hand, and the promise of a beautiful future in the other, sharp witted and young and free….’ but the more realistic outcome is, ‘i look pale and kinda gross with mild acne due to being post menopausal and my hair’s a bit of a mess, and i’m walking weirdly because someone shoved a cannula into my groin.’

maybe, one day, i’ll have a sexy medical procedure to cover in my upcoming breakthrough literary piece titled Sexy Feminist Cancer.



i then ended up with some exotic fevers last night, spent a hellish 4 hours in an overcrowded and dreadfully understaffed ER, and got sent home as soon as someone had the time to call my oncologist.  this is NOT the fault of the exceptional staff who spend the whole time working hard to provide as much care as they could with the limited resources they had. but there was no way they could fulfil quotas in a situation like that, with ill people shoved into corridors and large supply areas with chairs and beds in them.  it made me ashamed of whatever has lead to this, and angry that the medical professionals dedicating their lives to saving ours are forced to go through it. if you end up at an ER and are stuck for hours because of this, never blame the doctors or the nurses, even if they are short with you. their life – their time – is all based around saving and making yours better. be nice to them. (obviously if they are offensive or abusive, report it – but i’m fortunately yet to experience anything close to that. i have witnessed countless examples of people abusing nurses though….)

so, next week, i get the ‘real’ radiation. i am obviously fairly nervous, as the primary side effect is nausea. i hate nausea. and exhaustion. exhaustion makes me an exceptionally unhappy camper.

it’s a strange procedure to be entering into, because it’s one of the main markers of the definite fact that my treatment is no longer curative, and it is without a doubt palliative.  my oncologist has decided to not operate on my tiny, asymptomatic bowel tumour (which has no active cancer it it according to my last PET, and no active cancer in any lymph node in the region). They’ll deal with it if it starts causing problems, but given it wasn’t at the point of diagnosis, it seems unlikely it will for my life span.  The lung ‘things’ are still there, and not going anywhere – either bigger or smaller – so i’m being encouraged to forget about them.  Onc said that they will remain asymptomatic unless they grow about 10 times larger. ok. that tight chestedness? it’s anxiety. now i know this i don’t feel tight chested. but it’s not curative.  i think palliative remains a terrifying word, a huge word, and it’s something we need to look at more – those of us receiving palliative treatment for advanced cancer/diseases.  i’ve started writing for a palliative care blog, and i feel like it’s one of the more important places i’ve had writing in.  i feel like i can actually contribute some important ideas about how it is to live with a Terminal-Ish/Life Limiting/Whatever diagnosis.

i’m also facing a lot of interesting questions about my own writing practice that i’m working through at the moment — namely, how do i deal with the fact that i can write about the intimacy of the body, but struggle to articulate anything relating to the intimacy of personal relationships.  i tried to write a piece – a deeply personal piece – and it was hesitant and unclear, and i have no idea how to sharpen it, or make it something that is readable, and meaningful.  how do i write about how i feel? how do i conceptualise it?  this is a part of the exposure of the self in the kind of writing i do that i’m not sure how to manage.  do i stay with what i know, and what i can say about my own body, my own concept of self, or do i try and push myself into writing about the things that frighten me, that matter to me, and that i find so hard to say? it’s a question i’m not ready to answer yet.

also, my balcony garden is going great guns, with my two fig trees growing huge, a stack of zaatar cuttings, and some baby succulents. if anyone in canberra feels like trading succulents, hit me up, yo.



About elizabeth

various things.
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One Response to Medical Procedures Reviewed With Elizabeth: Angiograms! MAA radiation!

  1. Linda Conrad says:

    Hi Elizabeth! What a hellish experience, but sadly. I know you are all to familiar with a variety of those…
    I don’t see where I can send you an email, so sending this with mine. I’d love to connect.
    my email is
    look forward to hearing from you

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