Tests and Toothache

I’ve had quite a few tests recently. My first one was a routine colonoscopy – serious bowel troubles run on my mother’s side of the family and I already get polyps. My consultant also asked if I could have biopsies for any amyloid deposits (these occur on soft tissues like the heart, lungs, kidneys and bowels) as my type of myeloma can cause this and disrupt their function. The whole thing was very lengthy, though sedation knocks me out pretty well and it only hurt a little bit – well as far as I remember. The whole thing felt like about 5 minutes but actually took nearer 50!  I had 6 polyps round an awkward bend taken out and there was no sign of deposits, but apparently the biopsies may not have gone deep enough to find them. As it was I had a fair amount of bleeding and felt as if I’d been kicked in the guts a couple of times. Took a while to get back to eating normally after all that and the disgusting laxatives. So thank goodness that’s over for another year or two.

I’m still not on any myeloma treatment. My light chain ratios are up and down still but my kappa ones have been fairly static – who knows what that means. But my consultant thought as it had been a while since I had a bone marrow test and x-rays I should have those, and I also had a synacthen test which checks the function of the adrenal glands. It can help to see whether your body is producing enough steroid hormone (cortisol). I’ve been very tired and had very low blood pressure for ages and it could be that my body didn’t start making its own steroids properly after I came of the steroid pills last year.

I had all three tests on one day which was quite difficult in terms of timing. Had a pretty rapid skeletal x-ray survey. Then down to haematology which was very busy. I was eventually started on the synacthen test, which involves having your blood tested as a baseline and then being injected with tetracosactide which stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol. If the adrenal glands are working properly they should respond to the tetracosactide by producing cortisol. Levels of cortisol are checked by taking a blood sample.

So they test you after half an hour which was fine and then I was suddenly needed for my bone marrow test. This proved to be tricky – usually it is straight forward – there’s a page on it on the blog if you want the details. But this time they couldn’t get a sample from one hip, so I needed to turn over. Then I was ‘dry’ on the other side, so they decided to take the bone sample, which could be enough. My hip bone turned out to be like rock!! The strapping junior doctor who was doing it under supervision, really struggled and there was a lot of pushing with the needle and pulling on my hip – like DIY! It was eventually done and I had a nice little core floating in the liquid they put it in. Immediately after I had to have my last blood test! I was fine at the time, but by the next morning I was extremely sore and bruised on my hips, which is unusual for me, and it’s only just subsiding after several days. I read on one of my myeloma threads that the drug Zometa which I have had monthly to strengthen my bones, may have caused my hips to be so solid – obviously working well!

Trouble is with Zometa is that if you are on it and have to have any tooth extraction or major tooth surgery it can cause a painful and difficult jaw condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). Unfortunately I now have a tooth (mostly filling) which has a dying root and will need either a root canal, which is likely to not take and be very tricky to do as I have a curved root, or an extraction. Expert advice is being sought from maxillofacial at the hospital – hope they come up with something before the toothache gets worse or I get a bad infection. I have precautionary antibiotics to hand.

Well these things are sent to try us. However, the good news is that provided my test results are OK I may not need to see my consultant until early Sept, so the summer may be clear. I won’t count my chickens yet, but I am pleased that I have had a good gap off from treatment.

Hope you all have a good summer.