The first thing the doctor said to me when he walked in the room today was, “I read your blog.” Right then, I knew he was the right one to do the surgery. While the doctor I saw last week made me feel confident he could successfully complete the surgery, the doctor I saw today made me feel like he would help me return to the lifestyle I want to lead after the surgery. He understood that training was important to me and how I might want to try and do the Ironman before having the surgery (although he strongly recommended that I did not). He answered my questions about when I could get back to physical activity as soon as possible and even pointed out that this would be a great time to focus on strength training.
So the surgery is scheduled for Monday and will be done by in Atlanta. The doctor had some interesting observations about the tumor and it’s interaction with the bone that led him to be a little less certain that what I am dealing with is a giant cell tumor. There are some areas around the tumor where the bone has thickened in response to it, while at the same time there are some areas that are quite thin and weak. The giant cell tumor is usually very aggressive and you won’t see those areas of the bone build itself back up. He will, like the other doctor had discussed, do the biopsy first thing before proceeding. If it is anything other than giant cell, he will not proceed. If it is, he will do the same things to remove the tumor and then clean out the area, but he is leaning towards using bone graft to fill the cavity as he said that will help with shock absorption and more use in the long run as it is actual bone. The cement on the other hand helps in the follow up imaging to highlight the re-occurrence of the tumor as it can reoccur and most often within the first two years after removal. Also, the cement creates heat in the bone as it cures adding another way to make sure all the tumor cells are out. But he is the doctor and I trust him to make the best decision given my age, the things I want to do, and the details of the tumor and bone.
I have finally come to peace with all of this and how fast it is all happening–not saying I don’t have my freak out moments, but for the most part I am doing pretty well. When I was in Augusta this weekend (stay tuned for a more in depth synopsis very soon) I realized that I was mentally exhausted from dealing with all of this tumor stuff and wasn’t able to be present because I was thinking the entire time about the what ifs. I know that everything happens for a reason and honestly had I not been training for the Ironman, chances are they never would have found the tumor until it had done more damage to my leg. One of the lessons I am learning having watched three of my friends online DNF at Ironman Lake Tahoe and going through all of this is that “big dreams are worth the journey–even when we don’t always get to the finish.” (You will hear that again in a future post or two!)
So the countdown is on until surgery day. I will be back in the red stick for a couple of days to get my life and house ready for Koko on crutches. Not sure how fast I will be able to get out an update after the surgery, but will make sure to share what I can when I can.