Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oh, Hello Fear. I Didn't See You Standing There!

So, yesterday was an interesting day. Since one purpose of this blog is to document the emotional journey of cancer I'll tell you all about it.

For a little more than a week I've had a persistent "side ache". It feels just like the stitch one gets from running. It comes and goes, sometimes almost disappearing and never getting worse than a 5 on a 1 to 10 pain scale.

The internet told me I had kidney stones.

That would suck. My friend has written that kidney stones produced the worst pain he has ever experienced. So I thought I had that to look forward to.

I gave it a week to resolve. I have arthritis that mostly affects my sacroiliac joints (the base of my spine and pelvis). I've had it since I was 14 years old. Mine is episodic and doesn't impact my life much (I'm lucky!). Arthritis pain can sometimes radiate strangely, so I figured that might be the source. But my normal arthritis treatment didn't alleviate it so I made an appointment with my doctor.

My doctor called in sick. I guess that's a thing? Doctors get sick, too?

They fit me in to see the nurse practitioner. She examined me and asked me lots of questions. We discussed my recent cancer.

Then she took on a look of concern, and what I heard next was, "blah blah blah WITH YOUR HISTORY blah blah blah CAT SCAN blah blah..."

My brain hadn't even gone there.

Well, it had. The internet search that told me kidney stones were a common cause of my symptom also mentioned kidney cancer, but way down the list. I had suppressed that idea.

It became unsuppressed.

I left the doctor's office to drive home to await a CT scan appointment. In the car I immediately started crying.

"I do NOT want to go through that again!"
"I do NOT want to leave Wonderful Wife and The Progeny!"

The fear of cancer's return was suddenly very present. And huge.

I went home and crawled into Wonderful Wife's arms on the sofa. She was reassuring, as always.

The CT scan took place in the early afternoon and I went home again. Shortly thereafter I got a call from my doctor's office.

"Your wet read indicates possible early acute appendicitis. Our advice is that you go to the ER immediately."

Well, that wasn't what I was expecting!

Funny that being told I might need emergency surgery could constitute relief!

The rest of the story is not so germane to cancer so I'll speed through it. I went to the ER, got an IV and a bunch of blood drawn and waited for a consultation with a staff surgeon. After about 45 minutes (an amazingly short ER wait in my experience!) the surgeon appeared. He said I didn't look very much like someone experiencing appendicitis. The CT report was actually ambiguous, with a mention of the appendix but no clear problem there. And I had no fever, no vomiting, a low level of pain and my white blood cell counts were normal. He was pretty sure my appendix was not the problem.

The CT scan also mentioned evidence of inflammation in the terminal ileum - the very end of the small intestine where it transitions to the colon. I had a similar report from my first colonoscopy five years ago.

Remember that arthritis I've had for forty years? Anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically NSAIDs, cause damage to the GI tract. That's the likely source of my recent pain.

So the surgeon recommended "we put the knives away for tonight" and sent me home.

I was exhausted.

I was surprised by how ready my fear of cancer recurrence was to rear its head. For a few hours I was terrified.

Thus wags the long tail of cancer.

I'll finish with some advice: don't do an image search for "terror".

No comments:

Post a Comment