Monday, 1 July 2013

A Day in the Life of an Irregular Blogger

Aloha! It's been another age since I've written in here! My apologies. I thought I'd pop by to give you a quick update.

Way back on the 15th April I had an MRI scan at the hospital (so long ago that I had to look up the dates in my diary at work...). I didn't get the results until the 20th May, when I had an appointment with a very nice nurse in Neurosurgery. My lovely boyfriend came with me to the hospital and saw the scan images, so I guess now he is in the enviable position of having seen exactly what's going on inside his girlfriend's head!

The scans look pretty good - it's always hard to tell just from an MRI, but the surgeons were optimistic that they managed to remove the whole tumour, and there's nothing obviously wrong in the images. The trouble is that the pituitary gland is so tiny - about the size of your little fingernail - so even with the contrast injections, at best an MRI is only an indication of what's going on in there - blood tests are very important as well. But the surgeons are very happy with me, and as far as they're concerned, I don't have to have another MRI for a year. Hurrah!

On the 27th June I went to see the endocrine nurses for a synacthen test. This test evaluates how well the pituitary is producing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone is really crucial for your body, and because there's always a risk that surgery can damage the pituitary gland, patients who have transsphenoidal surgery are put on replacement steroid medication as a matter of course. The doctors will only let you come off the medication if a synacthen test shows your pituitary gland is now able to produce ACTH on demand.

I already had one of these tests back in March and my pituitary had a fairly good response, but not quite good enough to come off the medication totally. The endocrinologists halved my dose of hydrocortisone, but I'm still taking 5mg in the morning and 5mg at midday. I'm hoping that the results of my test last week will be good enough for me to come off the steroids totally. It would be in line with what happened after my last operation, when it took about six months before I was able to come off medication. Certainly immediately after the operation I was in need of the steroids - about a month after surgery, I forgot my 4 o'clock 5mg dose, and was a complete emotional wreck all evening until I remembered I hadn't taken it at about 7pm. I took it - and half an hour later I was already feeling immensely better. More recently I have forgotten to take my hydrocortisone on time once or twice and not had any ill effects at all, which hopefully is a good sign.

I don't know yet what date I'm due back at the hospital for my next proper follow-up with endocrinology. I had thought it would be the end of June, but apparently it's actually going to be the end of July, four months after my last clinic appointment. Then I should get the results of the synacthen test, and the other blood tests they did at the same time to check my thyroid levels.

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