I received some encouraging news on August 9, 2017 from my appointment and MRI in Chicago.
“We think that it is just brain necrosis,” said the neurooncology fellow.
Thank goodness. I have never been so relieved to hear part of my brain is essentially rotting, not growing. My ditzel did not significantly change compared to my previous scan 6 weeks ago. Although nobody can be certain, minimal change in 6 weeks is not consistent with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). When GBM returns, it is usually not subtle.
For my patients, do not worry. I can still spell WORLD backwards (D – L – R – O – W) and count backwards from 100 by 7s (100 – 93 – 86 – 79 – 72 – 65 …). I should be good to go as a physician. If not, I can always run for political office instead.
I still need to repeat an MRI on an earlier timeline, but this is mainly to get back on track with my clinical trial 9 week cycle. Of course, every MRI is stressful, but this will just be the normal stress level, not 11 out of 10.
With that, the Alguires of Grand Rapids carry on through August, 2017, with a little more spring in our step. Before we left Chicago, we watched my niece Kathryn Ackerman (KK) on our phones take 4th at Junior Nationals in the 400 IM in a time faster than I can do it freestyle (not that it is all about me, but this is my blog).
July finished with Connor and Allison doing well at the long-course state swim meet, placing in several events. Allison qualified for a few Zone cuts, so we extended her season another two weeks. The Zone meet was in Wisconsin. After much discussion about crossing Lake Michigan by boat via Muskegon or Ludington, it was just too windy, and we drove around Chicago to Pleasant Prairie. Basically, the kids had a 4 hour crocheting lesson from Grandma. We made it to the pool, had a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant, skipped and just threw stones into the other side of the lake, watched Allison swim, and tried to beat traffic through Chicago (with another 4 hour crocheting lesson on return). Our side is definitely better with sandy beaches and sunsets.
Figure: Left, hanging out, feet on the right getting pembro. Middle left, technology allowing us to watch KK swim live at Junior Nationals. Middle right, EGR’s 9-10 state relay (Connor, Trent Tobias, Joey Collins, and Charlie Chappus). Right, Pleasant Prairie Rec Center pool before zones.
The Spectrum Health Cardiovascular Diagnostic Unit (we need a shorter title) went to the Grand Rapids Whitecaps game 7/26/17 for a group outing. Over e-mail, Mike McNamara jokingly (I think) nominated me to throw out the first pitch. A week later, I heard from the Whitecaps organization to meet by the the Bigby in 5/3rd stadium before the game. I am not going to say I was nervous, but that’s just because I won’t admit to that. There were 7 ‘first pitches’ that game. A few kids for their birthday and then a 90 year old who barely through it over his wheel chair. I thought I was next up, but then a 25 year old woman was called up and through a hard strike. “Next up, Dr. Craig Alguire!” Why couldn’t I follow the 90 year old? Those are my people. Trying to out perform the 25 year old, I threw it hard. After once bounce, the catcher caught it. It looked like a cricket pitch. Damn. I mean, darn. I mean, who cares? It’s just a stupid pitch.
My partner Mike Vredenburg’s wife, Rebecca, was looking at our kids, and asked if Ella was the one I called, “Queen Elizabeth.” Yes. After we were alone, Ella asked how she knew I called her Queen Elizabeth.
“Well, I don’t know!” I lied.
I guess she thought that was just between us. Apparently she does not know about all of you. I call her that once in a while for a few reasons. She was supposed to be the last child, and she wanted to be the youngest. “I used to be the special baby.” Well, she always smiles when I call her Queen (which is way better than princess). Also, Staci basically named our kids with my rubber stamp. But when she wanted Ella, I stood firm. Yes, but let’s put Elizabeth on the birth certificate. That way, she can decide later what she wants to be called. So it’s Elizabeth, or Queen Elizabeth, or Ella, or whatever you want to be called in the future. This is just between us.
Figure: Upper left, training for my first pitch with Mia. Bottom left, even though I threw a lot of strikes to Mia, this mound is a lot farther from home plate. Bottom right: My support crew at the game, Connor and his cousin Palmer Constant.
We went to Grand Haven for the last two days of the Coast Guard festival, went to a few birthday parties, kayaked and hunted for turtles at Gary and Gail’s, and watched the moon eclipse the sun like everybody else. Mia swam 25 yards and THEN turned 4. Read a few books (currently Where the Red Fern Grows with Connor). After my last MRI, I decided I really needed to finish my continuing medical education credits (CMEs) in nuclear cardiology. I put that on the back burner until the MRI only showed necrosis. Oh, and went to Chuck E. Cheese with the kids. When is school going to start?
Figure: Traditional parade gathering at Aunt Joyce’s house. Carnival and fireworks with cousins. Selfie in front of one of Coast Guard Boats. Porta potty, I think I can wait until I get home.
Figure: Eclipses, swimming and learning to dive with cousins. Riding a favorite birthday gift. Finally, when you resort to Chuck E. Cheese, it’s time for the kids to go back to school.