Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Have A Heart

My chemotherapy has been moved from Wednesday to Thursday this week because I have a MUGA scan scheduled for Thursday morning. One of the drugs in my toxic chemo cocktail, Adriamycin (aka the Red Devil for more than one reason), can be toxic to heart muscle, sometimes causing heart failure. So I have to be monitored periodically during the course of treatment to make sure I still have a viable heart.

MUGA stands for MUltiple Gated Acquisition scan, and the folks here at Damned General pronounce it MUG-a. But on House MD, the actors pronounce it MOO-ga. Is there a higher authority somewhere that decrees correct pronunciation of acronyms? My philosophy has always been, when in doubt just don't talk about it. Unfortunately the number of words I can't pronounce since I caught cancer is driving me into a career as a mime.

Anyway, the way the MUGA scan works is they inject radioactive Technetium 99 (there's another one! tek-NET-ee-um? tek-NEE-shum? and how the hell do you mime that, anyway?) into my one tortured remaining vein, and the hot sauce attaches itself to my red blood cells. This is why they have to do it before chemo rather than after, because the chemo may totally obliterate my red blood cell count. Then once I'm sufficiently glowing, the scanner can capture a moving image of my heart, sort of like an ultrasound, and measure the ejection fraction of my left ventricle.

Yes! You can actually keep your clothes on during a MUGA scan.

If the left ventricular ejection fraction is less than 50%, they will not administer Adriamycin. Which would be great! That stuff is soooo evil. Except that it would mean I have a severely damaged heart, and that my cancer treatment would be less effective. My MUGA score was a nice rollicking 53% before I started treatment, and it would have been a lot higher except the tumor was causing pericardial effusion and impinging on my heart. On Thursday I'll find out whether the heart muscle has sustained any permanent irreparable damage. I'm just the tiniest bit nervous.

But on the bright side, I have a blog! If it turns out I need a heart transplant, I'm sure all you kind generous healthy O+ blog readers out there will not hesitate to volunteer as donors.


Blogger Carny Asada said...

Holding the good thought for you.

12:12 PM  
Blogger kathy a. said...

those doctors who call it "mugga" don't get out much, do they? who wants to be mugged in a hospital??

moooga sounds much more gentle, like a procedure administered by happy cows. not that i'd want a live cow right there in the room; that could get messy.

hoping this -- one in a long line of tests, tests, tests -- turns out encouraging.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I am A+ and my heart is broken, so, really sorry, generally useless to you in every way. Oh yeah, plus I have metastatic melanoma, and I found out a year or two ago that in spite of what the Red Cross told me, which then caused me to go ahead and get the orange dot on my driver's license, I can't actually be an organ donor because apparently it's transferable. Somebody out there got an organ from a person who died with but not of melanoma (hit by the proverbial bus, I guess), and then the hitherto cancer-free recipient grew some melanoma and died of that. Nice, huh? Now that's a gift that keeps on giving.

In spite of the macabre storytelling (but you like that sort of thing! right? right?), I have high hopes for your heart next week. Fingers crossed.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't actually know my blood type...but i'd face my needle phobia to find out if you asked. ::huge hugs to you and your heart:: *~Sarah

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had that scan too Liz, for less traumatizing reasons. It left me a little sick and sore for a couple days, but nothing I'm sure would even register on your vomit-o-meter.

I think my ejection fraction was working just fine, as I had a shouting match with the attending cardiologist as to whether or not I'd get my charts and films. I did. Of course.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara? Lichen SARA!? Is this the cause of you wearing the ol' hitching post under your hip?

I had never known why. And in fact didn't know where you were. I don't think I've seen you at IBTP for a bit.

Blood. Well O is good for everyone. They actually prefer it, and generally use rarer types for plasma. I was told. (A neg).

9:30 PM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Oh it's not BLOOD I'd need donated if I have cardiac toxicity. It would be a whole new heart.

9:36 PM  
Blogger kathy a. said...

i'm the right type, but mine's currently in use. and probably shot to hell, anyways.

11:07 PM  
Blogger kathy a. said...

sara, my dad had metastatic squamous cell. fucking cancer.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its in the post. Took it off our grand & noble Prime Minister - no one will notice it's missing.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Sock Girl said...

Sending prayers and wishes that the results of Thursday's tests show no permanent damage.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure we could find someone not fully utilizing their heart, wait, I'm interviewing attorneys for jobs these days, am sure there's one or two that fit the bill.

so when you say the tiniest bit nervous, I'll understand that as nervous, not the crap my mother always told me about nerves "just look at them as excitement". barf

4:54 PM  
Blogger Dakiwiboid said...

I worked in the Bone Marrow Transplant Department for several years at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, Missouri. All the nurses and doctors in our department pronounced it "Mugga", as did the department that administered it.

1:24 PM  

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