On Thursday we headed into the ER; Ian had two episodes of loss of balance (although his balance has been generally altered since 2011, and even a bit more since the June biopsy, this was a new type of balance issue, and on his left instead of right side).
CT scan/MRI revealed a big problem: A LOT of infectious goo, IN the brain.
When Ian had his biopsy in June, it was to determine the genetic make-up of the growing tumor. Advances in medicine -- even since his first tumor was removed in 2006 -- have allowed for more pin-point treatment of certain genetic mutations in cells. The biopsy was to reveal if this was an option for us (result: it's not).
Following the biopsy we began chemo and radiation. A month into treatment, a follow-up scan showed significant swelling, and possible tumor GROWTH, or at least no reduction. The doctors then prescribed Avastin to combat the swelling - it's an IV chemotherapy treatment.
Unfortunately one of the side effects of Avastin is wound-healing inhibition. It was a risk the doctors felt we had to take, given his presenting symptoms and aggressive nature of the tumor. Most of the incision site was healed and sealed. There was just this one spot ...
Remember that your skin is your largest organ, and that bacteria hangs out there on a perfectly healthy person ... you're pretty much a bacteria farm. Washing not withstanding, bacteria lives.
In our case, bacteria from the skin made a beeline into the brain. It pretty much had a straight shot, following the channel of the biopsy incision right on in.
When we arrived at the ER, infection had gone deep, puddled and spread. Ian had a fever, chills, and a raging headache. The previously calm-looking spot on his head began to leak puss.
No option: the surgeons opened the site back up, removed a small piece of bone, pulled out the globs of infection, and - yes, in fact, for real: rinsed out the brain till it was "clean."
You can't get all of the infection this way -like all things in the brain, there is a lot you can't see because you can't do a lot of digging. So that's where the antiobiotics come in.
Ian will be on a steady dose of iv antiobiotics for the foreseeable future. The goal is to eradicate the infection, while carefully allowing the wound to heal.
But here's the real problem: He's had a round of Avastin. It prohibits healing. He's had an infection, which negatively affects white blood counts. Both of these facts mean that our treatment of an agressive tumor is on hold. As the doctor said yesterday, "this is very unfortunate timing."
Ian feels well - his headache is gone, with only the surface pain of the surgery causing any discomfort. He's in good spirits; visitors and indulgent foods arrive regularly. From the outside, he looks great. On the inside ... we've yet begun the fight.