Its strange how the body works, and how we often have that intuition that something is terribly wrong despite the doctor’s diagnosis. I had never really experienced that “feeling” until three years ago when I woke up one Saturday morning with a searing pain in the upper right quadrant of my torso. I drove myself to the emergency room at 6 a.m. where I was diagnosed with a sprained muscle. Funny, I hadn’t done anything strenuous or even anything out of the ordinary that could possibly cause this much pain. I knew that the diagnosis was wrong but the emergency room staff assured me that the pain reliever they had given me would take effect shortly and that I should go home and rest.
Rest I did not. I lay on the couch writhing in pain until noon when I could no longer withstand it. This time I had to phone my mother – I could not even stand up, let alone drive. When I returned to the emergency room the staff was shocked to see me. They rapidly escorted me to a gurney and began poking and prodding. Nine hours, an x-ray and a CT scan later they were still puzzled by this mysterious pain. Finally, the doctor on call came in and said he believed it was a kidney infection and sent me home with antibiotics.
The pain eventually subsided and by mid-week I was starting to feel a bit better but had that “feeling” that that something wasn’t quite right. I visited my family doctor who had not received my lab results from my previous emergency room visit. It was approaching 5 p.m. on a Friday so he quickly gave a call to the lab to have my results faxed to him-stat! When he got the results he gave me a queer look and said “Huh, you don’t have a kidney infection, something else is going on.” To this I replied, “Yes, I know. I just feel like something is wrong.” He immediately sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound which revealed some type of obstruction in my ureter.
One month and one specialist later we come to find out that I have a growth in my bladder. It appeared that this growth, possibly a polyp, caused a blood clot to form.The clot had traveled up the ureter (almost to the kidney) causing a blockage, which, in turn caused the severe pain that sent me to the emergency room in the first place.
They scheduled me for surgery several weeks later. While I was having my pre-op exam with the Physician’s Assistant he causally read my chart…”Hmmm, let’s see…so, you have that growth in your bladder, oh yes, and on the CT scan report I also see that you have two cysts on your liver, a cyst on your kidney, a cyst on your ovary.” Come on! Seriously, was I supposed to know that? Apparently these things were nothing to worry about – you can just call me cyst girl. I found it amusing that the doctors and assistants had no problem filling me in on all the imperfections within my body but gracefully skated around the real issue – the growth in my bladder. I was told that because of my young age it was most likely a polyp and probably nothing to worry about. What I was not told, but found out later from my sister who had a one-on-one with my doctor prior to my surgery, was that it was most likely a cancerous tumor. I understood them not wanting me to worry, but aren’t medical professionals supposed to lay it all out for you, good or bad? This was MY life and I had the right to have some inkling before the final word came out. Nothing like being in your doctor’s office waiting for the results of a biopsy, convinced that nothing horrible was wrong and hearing the word…CANCER. The way the doctor put it was, “The good news is that we got the entire tumor, the bad news is that it was a malignant tumor” Great.
Fortunately, the cancer (a T-cell carcinoma) was a non-aggressive, superficial type and would not metastasize. The doctor likened it to a skin cancer. There is an 80% chance that it will come back within five years, but so far I’m into my third year cancer free. Thank goodness I listened to my body and if I can give any advice it would be just that – listen to your body. If you feel that something isn’t quite right, it probably isn’t. Be persistent and pursue the issue!
Read Full Post »