Thursday, February 16, 2017

real and raw

The Flexural for my back seemed to work for awhile.  I was getting more accomplished during the days and managed to go to some hockey games at night.  

Until that one night last week. I'm so foggy right now, I couldn't say for sure which one.  I just woke up, in the middle of the night with my back riddled with a stabbing kind of pain.  Over and over again.  I quickly got up and moved out to a chair that I could sit up in.  Then I found the heating pad.  Then I took some Advil.  And... the list goes on and on, mind-numblingly so.   I simply found no relief.  Hour after agonizing hour.  I finally, flattened myself on the floor, grounding my heart and pouring out my deepest act of surrender to Him.  I crawled back up into my chair and sat,  till the wee hours of the morning and Rick awoke to check on me.  He brought me a steaming cup o Joe, and with the sun starting to announce day break, the pain finally eased.  


And so it went.  Each day, somehow, I'd climb out of the depths of the pain from the night before.  I knew in a few days I'd see Dr. P. and I just wanted to get by.  But I couldn't stop the slide down in to the pain the next night,  no matter what I thought to try.  From massage to pillows, to recliners, to creams on my back... nothing relieved the pain at night.

At my lowest, I simply rocked and cried, and cried and rocked, with the words of old hymns coming to mind, clinging to those words that formed somewhere deep within me.  That morning, Friday morning, the pain never did subside.  And I was done.  Physically and emotionally, I couldn't do any more.

I simply told Rick he needed to take me in to the ER.  It was still early enough in the morning that I didn't have to wait for a room, I was taken right back.

With just a few questions asked by the nurse, pain meds were offered right away.  The young doctor poked his head in the door and said they were in the midst of a few urgent cases, but he'd get me comfortable and then come talk to me at length.

I was so in the grips of pain, I forgot to mention to push the pain med SLOWLY through my port which enters my system instantaneously!  BOOM, the room spun around, the Dilaudid flew through my body and I went to sleep like I was hit with a ton of bricks.  

Again, time was elusive.  But at some point the doctor came in to visit.  Whew!  What a day he was having- two Cardiac Arrests, and a Stroke Patient, and he was overwhelmed.  

Had I ever had a scan before?  A bit flabbergasted, I assured him I'd had a few.  But we agreed another CT scan, with no contrast would be the best way to see what might be amiss.

Hours later they came to take me for a scan.  Several more hours passed and finally the doctor came back with the results.  It wasn't the left side where the radiologist saw anything, it was on the right kidney, and down into my Ureter which looked swollen.  They surmised it might be due to kidney stones, but I'd have to have a couple more tests.  But he was still so busy with his patients, it'd be a few more hours to get me to the tests.  In the meantime, I assured Rick he could leave to go to Cloquet for Nolan's hockey game.  

With my patience in low reserve, I simply put it all in black and white terms to the doctor.  If I'm stable for now- and you can send me home with the Diluadid, then could I wait at home and see Dr. P on Tuesday and go from there?

He young doc actually looked relieved, and said yes right away.  Rick's Dad came to get me and managed to get me home, just in time.  The Dilaudid, did a number on my stomach, and left me with my sides heaving.  It was enough for Rick to call and tell me he was on his way back home after the game that night.

Somehow, we managed to get through these last few days.  


Monday when I went to Roger Maris for lab work, I told my nurse about my emergency episode.  She took careful notes, and in very little time, Dr. Panwalkar's nurse called me.

Angela- or Angel- a, as I often think of her,  worked her magic.  I needed a new CT scan the next morning, then Dr. P would like to see me over his lunch hour at 12.  We'd hold off on chemo for the time being.  Would that work for me?

I'm always left in awe of how hard Roger Maris works to accommodate their patients.  I simply gulped, "yes," to her squeezing back my tears.


Dr. Panwalkar strode into the room right at 12 the next day.  "Tell me what happened," he said seriously, wanting to get right down to business."  

We relived the past week, with Rick filling in any parts I left out.  Its the most I've heard him say.  But when I talked about the pain, Rick stepped in and said, "If I can just add something, its the MOST pain I've seen her in throughout these 6 years of treatment.  And its the most stubborn she's been about taking pain meds."  

"Its true,"  I told Dr. P.  "I was taking so many, I was afraid I'd become an addict."  

Dr. P simply nodded and then sternly admonished me, "If you need more meds, then take them.  Take 2, if that doesn't help then 3.  If that doesn't help, call me.  But you need to take them.  Addiction is the least of your worries right now."  He reminded me so much of my father right then.  Firm in his words, but only because his concern was real and raw.  His mood lightened then.  

Rick said, "I tried to tell her..."  Dr. Panwalkar then stood up, reached over and shook Rick's hand, which is not something I've seen him do before either.  Then he ushered me over to the exam table.  

After the exam, He turned to the scan and showed me what he thought may be happening.  "I don't think you have kidney stones."  The scan shows fluid around your left lower lung, which is pushing everything around it, causing pain.  It is also likely filled with cancer cells.  In addition, your kidney looks enlarged, as does your ureter, and bladder."

He went on..
He'd like me to see a urologist and had already put in a call for me for Thursday.  I also needed to do a PET scan- as soon as possible- they are calling for pre-approval.  

So the pain is due to cancer, not kidney stones.  And the PET Scan will show us where it all is. 

And somehow, I was able to stay in this precarious, uncertain,  moment with him.  

I don't understand all the suffering.  But somehow, looking back I see, it fortified me for what I would need to have for the next thing I will be going through.  That tenuous rope of faith that I continue to hang onto. 

I took in all the info, and nodded my agreement.  He also said he was pretty sure we'd be switching chemotherapy and going back to Taxotere, weekly.  But we'd wait to get my results back from the PET scan.  

He bid a hasty goodbye.  

When the pain settled in last night, I reached for the Oxycodone.  And reached again, and yet 1 more time until I fell into a deep sleep.  I lasted until early this morning.  I crawled into my recliner, and was thankful to just be able to get up, to sit, and start a new day.

prayers greatly appreciated for this day.  

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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