Sunday, May 24, 2015

You Have Cancer

Not the words you want to hear sitting in the emergency room suffering from random nausea and what you think is a bum gall bladder.

Welcome to my story.  It started sometime last fall...and came to a head in January 2015.  I have been trying to figure out how to share my experience.  It's been a wild ride; filled with laughter and tears...thankfully mostly laughter.

I am a 47 year old wife, stepmom to 3 humans and furball mom to a beagle.  I love sports, cooking, baking, and working out.  I took my good health for granted until very recently.  I am not exactly sure when everything started; to this day I am not even sure what the first symptom was.

Last summer I threw out my great story to tell.  I was closing an umbrella and a disc near the small of my back was suddenly out of whack.  Some rest, a good chiropractor and some exercises healed it up nicely for a couple of months.  November brought on more back pain and a UTI.  I had a CT scan when we thought the UTI had also produced some kidney stones but nothing showed up.  My CT was 11/20.  Keep that date in mind as my story continues.  Life went on.  I work in retail so the November/December timeframe is crazy busy and I just kept going; each day feeling a bit more fatigued but I chalked it up to the hours I was working and everything else I was doing to get ready for Christmas.

On December 9th, my sister's mother in law passed away and it was at her funeral that my back pain really started to flare.  Back to the chiropractor I went...I could no longer tolerate the electrical stimulation, it made me nauseous.  I was getting relief from the adjustments though so I went twice a week and exercised to relieve the pain in between.

The week of Christmas, I had to call in sick to work on the Monday because the back pain had kept me up all night.  I went to the chiro for an adjustment and felt relief.  I was planning to join my husband and his brothers for dinner that night but late in the afternoon I started feeling terribly nauseous.  Shortly thereafter I started vomiting and then dry heaving.  This went on for several hours and the back pain returned.  I stayed home from work the next day as well.  I had planned to be off the rest of the week as well.  My nausea and queasiness subsided and while I still had the back pain I felt OK for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

On December 27th, I went back to the chiro...I was having a house full of people for dinner and felt like an adjustment would do the trick.  Temporary relief once again.  By New Years Eve I could hardly move and the nausea had returned.  I was constantly alternating ice and heat while popping Advil like candy.  Sleep was fleeting; when I tried to move, the pain would wake me and keep me up for hours.  The nausea was back as well.  I had good days and bad.  I was always a bit nauseous; sometimes what I ate would make it worse, sometimes not.  I was beyond tired all the time.  I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong...I ran no fever, no chills, no body aches except for the back pain.  Sitting here writing this now, I should have gone to the doctor sooner.  Maybe I didn't want to admit what I feared...something was really wrong.  I made an appt. to see my GP and kept going.

On January 10th, I visited my GP's associate.  She took blood and examined me.  She said the blood test would probably answer our questions and prescribed meds for gastritis and she had me schedule another CT scan for 1/14.  I had gastritis back in college and while I didn't feel the same, at this point I was willing to try anything.  My birthday was January 12th and it was all I could do to go to work and get home to my couch to lay down and sleep.

The day after my birthday, we were dealt another blow.  My husband's best friend passed away suddenly.

I was now getting sick a little more regularly and the fatigue was unreal.  I went for the CT and waited on the results.  By Thursday, I was too sick to go into work, so I worked from home.  I was getting weaker so I made an appt. to see my GP on Friday morning.  At the Dr. I was down a few more pounds and she was looking at my CT scan and talking about "masses".  Suddenly I was sitting in the exam room watching my Dr. talk to ME in the exam room.  It really and truly was an out of body experience.  She was telling me I needed to go to the emergency room and she was ordering another CT with contrast.  She didn't think I should wait until Monday.  My husband was at his best friend's funeral and I left him this rambling message about masses, emergency room, tests...the whole time I was leaving the message, I could hear the blood rushing in my ears.

I drove myself to the emergency room.   In my life prior to 1.16.15, I had been in the ER for myself once.  ONCE!  I am healthy and strong.  I eat well, I work out.  I got to the ER they triaged me immediately.  Then they sent me to the waiting room with a bunch of people with the flu.  After about 5 minutes, word that my Dr had ordered a bunch of tests for me got to the ER...suddenly I was some sort of VIP in the ER.  Trust me when I tell you, you do NOT want to be a VIP in the ER.  Very quickly I found myself in a paper gown, on a gurney, hooked up to a blood pressure monitor and some IV fluids.  Dr after Dr came in and said, "Wow, your blood pressure is high!" and "We think you might have Cancer."

Wait, what???

Every 15 minutes that blood pressure monitor took my BP.  Every time it was higher than the time before.  I could feel it in my right temple.  I was shocked, scared, in pain and oh so tired.  I talked to one of the Drs and mentioned the nausea...immediately they ran some Zofran into my IV.  Within minutes the nausea was gone.   I felt like a different person right up until they gave me the drink for the CT  contrast...blech!!!

By the time my husband arrived, I had a diagnosis...Cancer...and high blood pressure.  I was the only one in the room who thought perhaps the high blood pressure may have been caused by the diagnosis of cancer, no one in scrubs or a lab coat wanted to debate that with me.  Oh, I was also going to spend the night in the hospital...another first...yay me!!

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