Something is there. Dr. Fink pointed out the white line on the MRI images that ran down my spine into a large white blob in the sacrum. Her recommendation was to review these images with a radiologist she holds in high esteem, and to do a spinal tap in order to analyze what cells are lighting up the screen.
(By the way, she looked at the different scans and said the discrepancy was due to the fact that the "grossly unremarkable" scan did not provide a complete view.)
If I have tumor cells in my spine, she has a game plan: a weekly chemotherapy treatment that would be delivered through a port in my head. She didn't discuss prognosis, and I didn't ask. (It's too creepy to discuss, and it's not her call, anyway.)
I left for a follow-up with my ear surgeon while she met with her radiologist. I silently prayed that she and the radiologist would be guided to understand this situation. When I came back for the spinal tap, she said that the radiologist offered another plausible interpretation: a blood vessel malformation causing bleeding in the spine. He recommended an MRA -- magnetic resonance/angiography -- which is a two-hour trip through the tube to look at things a little differently. That will happen on Friday. We should hopefully receive the spinal tap results on Friday as well.
Just like it was with my first MRI, my first spinal tap was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be. As Dr. Fink collected the spinal fluid, she observed that it was clear and yellowish, and both made her happy. Only lab results will tell us what these cells are, but there is a possibility that there could be blood cells in there. This would also explain why ibuprofen has been ineffective in relieving pain. (It was probably making it worse.)
"I choose to be optomistic," was Dr. Fink's comment. (Not only was that blog-worthy, but it's a choice we can make in any circumstance.)
If I'm lucky enough to confirm this new possibility, the answer is a surgical correction. Never thought I'd be praying to have vascular surgery near my spinal cord, but it certainly beats having cancer there.
This experience has tested my body and my patience, along with the patience of my family (because I'm just so darn cute and lovable, and they want me to be okay). This experience may have tried to test my faith, but if it did, I didn't notice. I know that this process is in God's hands, and I trust that whatever comes of this will be right for His plan for me and for my family. I know that our needs will be met, regardless of what we must bear.
I still feel the strength that comes from so many prayers on my behalf. The Spirit provides a constant reminder of God's love, and so does the generous outpouring of care and concern from family and friends.
Last night my dad and my brothers came over, and together with my husband they laid their hands on me to give me a priesthood blessing. I am so grateful to have faithful priesthood holders in my family, who are close at hand and willing to help me in any way that is needed.
We remain in suspense until Friday's test results. Meanwhile, there is great peace in knowing that this situation is in the capable hands of a good doctor, and in the loving hands of my Heavenly Father, and supported by the praying hands of many good people who love.