I sat down to the computer about this time yesterday to update my journal, but two sentences in and I very suddenly began having severe pains in my liver region (right upper quadrant of the abdomen, along the bottom of the rib cage – where most of my pain typically is). I tried laying down as this position usually resolves the pain within a few minutes, but it was not getting better, only worse. Sweet Scott, my 4 year old, and I were the only ones home and he was being fantastic. Just playing and being his happy little self. He did go and get his doctor kit after I told him why I was laying down, but unfortunately his best efforts did not resolve my pain.
I called my dear neighbor down the street who has a daughter going to school with Camden and has a son, Jack, who is just a few months younger than Scott. (Jack and Scott have become fast friends watching for their big sister and brother at the bus stop!) She graciously agreed to handle Scott for me while Brian took me to the hospital. (I didn’t know she would have to have Scott and eventually Camden too for pretty much the entire day. Thank you Sally and Brian!)
My doctor felt we should go straight to the emergency room since they had the imaging machines at the ready. Oh how I LOVE the Baptist Hospital emergency room (dripping sarcasm)- TERRIBLE experience all the way around the last time we were there, which was January, when they initially found the metastasis. However, we had a much better experience this time, during the daytime which may be the key, I don’t know.
I was given morphine pretty soon after we got there, and then x-rays and ultrasounds were done of my abdomen. To make a long story only slightly less long, they were able to rule out all serious concerns: bowel perforation, bowel obstruction, etc, etc. We did get the good news that: 1) My liver function tests (blood tests) are still in a normal range.
2) My liver, via ultrasound, did not look any worse to the ER doc than it did in January.
– Caveat: the liver also didn’t look significantly better than in January, which is somewhat discouraging after 14 rounds of chemo/8 months of treatment. However, yesterday I was just glad it didn’t show some new monstrous tumor that was responsible for my new pain.
My oncologist came by to see us around 4:30 or so, and explained that there were basically 3 potential reasons for this sudden pain:
1) constipation – Ah yes, my old friend constipation. What a time we have of trying to stay somewhere in the middle with regards to “looseness” of the bowel. Sigh… He felt that the pain may have been a) a cramping-type pain of the intestines trying to get things moving again after the last chemo dose, or b) a result of the liver being pressed up into the diaphragm more due to bowel distension from being “backed up” on the right side.
(I know you wanted this much detail, I just know you did… But I am honestly trying to ward off a lot of questions in person.)
2) a capsular lesion – meaning some part of the cancer has grown just enough into the outermost covering of the liver to cause a significant irritation when it rubs against my diaphragm
3) tumor necrosis – YES! Option 3, option 3, that’s what I pick!! That means cancer death, as in a big old bunch of liver tumor just got whacked!
From what I can surmise from the above explanations, option 1 or 3 should mean this pain is temporary, but option 2 would mean I may be stuck with it for awhile. I am praying, praying this is not the case. Because I can’t function with this pain. I can’t take care of my kids or go places while hurting like this.
I was in mild pain when we came home from the hospital at about 6:00 last night – was able to eat a bit (soup was delish- Rosa!) and rest comfortably – but was still under the diminishing effect of morphine. I went to sleep at bedtime just fine, but then woke at 1:30 am in the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. I was unable to move at all. With cries of pain, I finally managed to get a hand to Brian to wake him up. He had to physically roll me over to get me into a position to take my percocet. The good news is that after about 30 minutes, the pain was mostly gone and I slept well the rest of the night. I woke this morning with no pain. However, after about 30 minutes of being out of bed the liver pain began again, albeit not severely. It is enough pain that I cannot fully straighten up in standing, and I cannot take a deep breath in, but if I remain sitting or lying and breath shallow, I have almost no pain.
So that’s where we are. I am not getting far from home yet at this point because my pain is just so unpredictable right now.
I had a whole different post in mind yesterday, so maybe I will write that tomorrow or later this week, Lord willing.
I do have to say that I had that indescribable peace yesterday. I just felt calm (even BEFORE the morphine!). I could sense God with me in a very real way. I have your prayers to thank for that. I am still not overly worried. I’m frustrated – because as we’ve established, I’m not so good at BEING STILL – but not depressed or angry.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, that no medically emergent situations were found yesterday. Thank you for pain medicine that controls the pain. Please continue to give me the strength to handle whatever this day brings, and help me not to worry about what tomorrow “may” hold. Thank you for friends who are always at the ready to help my family. Thank you for a tireless, faithful husband and tireless, faithful parents. Thank you for hearing the prayers of many, and for putting me on their hearts when they pray. Thank you for being close, though you hold the whole universe in your hands. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.