Bad news on the Auster health front
Just as the terrible epocal intestinal problems that have been tormenting me for six weeks were getting some blessed relief, which I reported just six days ago,—with the ciliac nerve block, with a more effective pain management regime, and with more effective pills to help the intestines move things along (which my doctors had themselves given me no help with)—another and much more serious problem appeared. A week ago I started being weak and lightheaded and began seeing things double and had difficulty walking. The weakness increased for a few days. I was staying with a friend who lives outside Philadelphia and yesterday morning we went to the emergency room of a nearby, efficient, suburban hospital, a world of difference from New York City hospitals.
They immediately gave me a CT scan of the brain, and found metastatic lesions there. So it’s more cancer, appearing in a whole new front. Several doctors—including my own oncologist—said they had never heard of pancreatic cancer spreading to the brain. But now other doctors have said that because I have survived the pancreatic cancer so long it has had more time to do things and go places that is normally not the case. I was checked into the hospital yesterday and today was given me an MRI for a closer look at the brain. The hospital neurosurgeon speaks of “multiple metastatic lesions.” I’ve already been seen by the consultant neurosurgeon and the consultant oncologist today, who all came to my room. (Things move a lot faster when your’re in the hospital than otherwise, as I can testify from my hellish experiences of the last seven weeks).
The treatment they’re looking at is radiation therapy for three weeks (15 sessions, five times a week as an out-patient), which would stop the physical and mental deterioration that would otherwise immediately occur and might give me several more months of functional life before decline and death. Tomorrow the doctors are doing a lumbar puncture to see if cancer cells have gotten into the spine and we will discussing treatment further.
I’m now in the hospital for the second night. It’s my first time staying in a hospital in my life—except for when I was born. It’s a pleasant, pleaceful place from which to embark on one’s last journey. I’ve been reciting Homer to my friend.