Those Days Are Gone I Guess

Up until about 10 days ago I had been having a pretty steady recovery from my surgery. A 'remarkable' recovery, as noted by my cardio-thoracic surgeon. So much so that I even went back to light duty work last week despite the slight burning pain that had developed under my ribcage in the right upper quadrant of my abdomen. At first I ignored the low simmer in my gut chalking it up to constipation and indigestion that often accompanies major surgery, inactivity and the use of narcotic pain relievers. But it was becoming more than just a nuisance and I began to worry about my gall bladder. So much so, that I text one of my besties late one evening about my concerns. She suggested I take some prilosec and also said she wouldn't be surprised if I had a developed a little ulcer with all the stress of the last several weeks. My hubby went straight away to the pharmacy and picked some up. My bestie said that if I didn't see improvement in a week that I should see my primary care doc and get some lab work and a gall bladder sonogram. I almost wanted to cry at thought of having gall bladder issues and possibly needing surgery again. Ugh! I started the antacid and actually felt a bit of improvement in 24 hours. Maybe this whole thing would just go away by itself. A week went by quick enough but the pain did not continue to get better. It more or less plateaued and stayed at a steady burn with even my skin feeling hyper-sensative. My bestie suggested the appointment with my primary again. I agreed and called to leave a message. Surprisingly within an hour the nurse called and said I was scheduled as first appointment the next morning. I had done a little reading out on the "net" and had dismissed gall bladder cancer pretty quickly but there are several organs tucked up in there...the liver, the pancreas, some of the stomach. Ugh...I just had a PET in September and all that was clear. Surely this was just my gall bladder in a post op pissy fit, right? But I had just been told my cancer was back in my lung and one hears about people that cancer spreads quickly in and 3 months had already gone by since then. I command myself to stop "over thinking" this and go with my gut...which was burning like none other at the moment. The next morning (Friday) I took myself in to see my primary doctor. After a series of questions, which I realized I had only vague answers for, he did a physical exam. He thought it sounded like the beginnings of shingles (what the heck???) but with no rash present he still wanted to check some lab and get a gall bladder sonogram as well because my symptoms were pretty unclear mostly because I was still pretty fresh off my thoracotomy and so recovery pain was all tangled up in these new symptoms. He pulled blood for liver and kidney function analysis and a CBC to check for any infections, bleeding, etc. My gall bladder sono would be Monday morning and I was to continue the prilosec in the meantime and call him if a rash appeared on my right flank. I went home to wait for lab results. My cancer kept niggling in the back of my mind. Surely not, right? Shingles would be okay...they would hurt, but nobody dies from them. Gall bladder problems started to sound okay compared to my cancer making another appearance in any of the above mentioned organs. That evening we went to dinner with friends and wouldn't you know it I missed a call from my doctors office. I knew it would be my lab results and sure enough when we got home there was a message on the home machine from the nurse...all my labs looked normal (thank goodness) and she reminded me not to miss my sonogram on Monday. So I was left to my weekend and my inexplicable pain. I decided to take my drugs and do my best. On Saturday my pain made a change and became less about "the burn" and more like a dull ache like a "stitch" up under my rib cage. It came to a real head Saturday night that led to real tears and for me to have real concern about the source of such pain. It seemed unlikely that it was "nothing" and simply recovery or even my gall bladder any longer. The pain continued throughout the weekend and I just gave in and numbed it with percocet as often as allowed. By Monday I was exhausted from the pain and noticed it had changed yet again and seemed much more up under the ribs and less on the skin - still no rash so shingles seemed pretty unlikely. With trepidation I drove myself through the crisp morning air to the Women's Center for the test. I got all checked in and chose a chair in the sun away from the door. I was dreading the pushing and proding on my tender right side. The sonographer was super nice and I liked her gentle way immediately. She led me to a small very pleasantly warm room. I commented on how toasty it was and she smiled and told me she kept it as warm as she would like it if she had to have a test where clothes may have to be lifted or removed. She let me take my time as I eased myself onto my back all the while listening to my story of pain. Once positioned she raised my shirt and tucked it under my boob line and then used paper sheets to protect my clothing (both top and bottom). Then she covered me with a copious amount of nice warm gel and gingerly applied the transducer to my gut. I breathed a sigh of relief at the tenderness she employed doing the test. I told her I was a nurse and she adjusted the screen on her machine so I could see everything she was looking at. As she worked she gathered the cliff notes version of my history from me. She shared with me that her own mother had had colon and then rectal cancer a few years later. She pointed out my liver and my pancreas saying they were both clean (whew!) then checked my gall bladder which she said also looked normal and untroubled. "Maybe this is just normal recovery pain." I stated. "I don't think so." she said "Do you see this?" and she pointed on the screen to a banana shaped dark spot that looked outlined with light. "Yeah." I answered. "That's fluid" she said "In between the lining of lung. A pleural effusion." She rushed on to explain that it could very likely be causing all the pain and that it wasn't very big but just enough to be a nuisance. It made sense to me having just had surgery on my lung 3 weeks ago. So the source of my pain had identified and I could only feel relief. I hadn't realized how much it had been eating at me, the not knowing. It's just that I had gotten used to being in remission and had stopped over thinking every little ache and pain. Not any more. Those days are gone I guess.
Texas Jeff, Patty like this post.
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Aahh Michele , What we would not trade for that innocent peace of mind.. I am so glad you had this checked out.. It makes sense as any inflammation of that lining can be very painful.. The things we are now relieved to find out.. Pleurisy... Thank goodness .. How crazy is that! Blessings to you and take it easy!! Lori
Oh, Michele, I'm so glad that they found the cause of your pain and that it's not what you feared. I hope the pain goes away soon and that you continue to get better. Hugs, Mari
Well done.
I understand what you are saying. Thanks for putting it into words.
Phew Michele, on the edge of my seat reading this one! You have made a really fast recovery, I had lung nodules removed from both lungs last year I had key hole on one side and a thoracotamy on the other, it was the most painful experience of my life and recovery was frustratingly slow. So slow down and let your wonderful family take care of you this Christmas. Jill x
Michele, "those days" may just be starting somewhere on the next calendar page so hang in there. I didn't think I could be happy about a pleural effusion, I don't even know what it is, but I am elated for you.
Thank goodness, Michele! That US tech is an angel for telling you what she saw right away and not making you wait to hear it from the doctor! I am so happy and relieved for you. I would say you have gotten an early Christmas present! Hugs to you, my friend, and wishes for a happy and worry-free holiday season! Love, Martha
Pleurisy is no joke. My cancer diagnosis was delayed becaused my PCP misdiagnosed "dry pleurisy" as a pulled muscle. Pain meds numbed the pain but it never really goes away until treated correctly. Several months later I had a 2 liter pleural effusion that had to be drained. When the lung lining is irritated, the pain can radiate to the upper back (which is why my case was misdiagnosed initially). I am so glad you were treated correctly and your mind put somewhat at ease (at least for now). You are going through a lot. I wish you the best in your continued treatment. Take care.
So sorry you are having to go thruogh more issues. At least now you know what is is and it can be dealt with. I am still scared to say I am in remission because my medics haven't used the word. I just say that I am still clear at the moment after eighteen months. Have a good Christmas with all your family. Annabele
Hugs Michele...so glad at least this pain has been clarified. Maybe now the little devil will go back in his closet and you can have some worry-free days! Thank you for posting this long account...it helps us all.
I must have missed the post about lung surgery?!?! HOpe you get some relief soon!
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October 3, 2011

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January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

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It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

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Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

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