Day 7

February 27, 2007 Link Amma's Grace

The car was ready by 11am – a white Toyota Qualis. We were ready by 12. We wanted to do a CT scan once we got here. When we finally arrived at about 3:30pm, we went straight to the radiology department for it. There Dr Srikanth, the Radiology Head of Department, spoke to us. He recommended doing a Fine Needle Histology, saying that the risks were minimal, and it might eliminate the need to do a Nephrectomy. This means that they could stick a very thin needle into Annika and try to suck up some of the tumor for analysis (Histology), thus eliminating the need to remove the whole kidney (Nephrectomy) in order to get at the tumor. This was a surprise… we had heard nothing about this.So he told us that he would use a very fine needle to get a sample from her Kidney, that it should only take 10 to 15 minutes. He would do it personally. The chance of inducing large scale internal bleeding was very slim, much smaller than when using a normal needle. However the chances of getting a useful sample was also smaller… They would do it with the help of a CT scan, for guidance. So, after about 10 minutes of deliberation, we decided to go for it, and cancelled the CT scan, since it would require Anni to go through many more injections and all sorts of torture.

Rishi and I went with Manoj to arrange a room and unload the taxi into it. Mom does not believe in traveling light – it’s better to be prepared. Manoj chettan was surprised when we unloaded the Qualis; surprised that we had brought so much AND that it had all fit into the car! After we got everything and stashed it three floors up (threw it into the room and shut the door) we ran back, unguided, to the Radiology department. After searching for a while, we found her in the “Radiology Recovery Room”, curled up on a bed in a lot of pain with a butterfly on one arm and about 4 holes in her side. A butterfly, in a hospital, is not a pretty sight. It is a plastic tube which sits in the vein and provides an interface to attach a tube, drip, syringe, or anything to it. The butterfly was just in case there was some complication… The anesthetic had kicked in only 10 minutes after the procedure, and she had almost screamed after the 3rd pass through… When it finally kicked in, it only worked for about 15 minutes.

After going through all that pain, Annika decided that she would like to be fully sedated before anything else happened.

Later on in the evening, we were lucky enough to meet Dr Sanjay Bhatt, before he went off to Goa for a conference or something. He sat with us for a long time. He was thankfully very frank and straight forward with us, but at the same time had a nice sense of humor. I really liked his attitude, personally. He told us that the situation was quite grim (although he said it in a calm, positive way) and we discussed different types of treatments, different types of drugs and different ways of getting at the tumor. I learned that the tumor, when it spreads, the cells that are developing out of control break off and go through the blood to settle elsewhere, in Annika’s case on her bones and in her lungs. In the remote sites, the cancer cell type is the same as that of the tumor.

Dr Bhatt had been in surgery all day, standing up. When I asked him if everything was successful, he said that he had done everything he could do on his part; the rest [gesturing to Amma’s photo] was God’s job.

Uncle Jeff had read up a lot on the net about cancer, specifically Renal Cell Carcinoma, (RCC), and, in his own words, knew “just enough to be dangerous to talk to,” and talked to Dr Sanjay about all these new treatments and new drugs. What we found out was that AIMS was following the tried and tested, approved, and woefully inadequate methods of a few years ago. The newer technology was unfortunately not used here, and trial drugs were unheard of. But Dr Sanjay was more than willing to collaborate with doctors in the US to provide the most recent developments. He also very kindly arranged a meeting with the Oncologist, Dr Pavithran for the next day.

Manoj Chettan arranged for Uncle Jeff and I to log into the wireless network on the first floor of the main entrance, just outside Dr Prem’s office at around 9:30pm. From there, Uncle Jeff skyped his contacts in the US, and arranged for them to call us during our meeting with Dr Pavithran at 9am. Then we checked e-mail, etc, and were out till late.
Aum Amriteshwaryai Namah

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