Here is where I tell the story about how 2013 became very interesting.
So, looking back, this had been happening for a long time, perhaps years. I was having an aching pain on my right side just below my rib cage which radiated to my back. I didn’t notice a pattern for a while. It just happened occasionally. I passed it off as muscle strain many times. It started to happen more often probably a month or so before my birthday. I started to joke with Stephen that “my liver tumor” was acting up again. Joking, yes, but in the back of my mind, I sure was hoping that really wasn’t what was going on! Sometimes having a medical background can be a booger.
It had gotten to the point that I figured I should probably think about seeing someone about it. Seeing as I didn’t even have a PCP designated, um, well, that tells you how long it’s been that I’ve seen a doctor. The times I’ve been seen in recent history, I just went to a walk-in clinic to see whomever was working that day. I had even gotten to the point that I was genuinely concerned and my Monday night ladies Bible study had even prayed for my unknown physical ailment.
So, fast forward to my birthday. We had a GREAT day and a great lunch of pizza. Yummy pizza. That night, I seriously thought I was dying and that I should get up and finally sign my will. Yes, I did think this. I was hurting a lot. I thought I had some liver tumor or an abdominal aneurysm. You know, the typical things that you think about in the middle of the night! 🙂 I thought, hmmm, should I wake Stephen up and tell him I’m dying. Did I? No. Figured he could just find me in the morning. Yep. Terrible. Yes, I did tell him in the morning…you know, when I didn’t die afterall. Anyway, the next 2 nights, I also thought I was dying, but to a slightly lesser degree. (I had leftover pizza both of these days).
Anyway, by Monday, I started thinking slightly more rationally about my ailment, and finally concluded that it was probably my gallbladder that was the culprit of my pains. So, I went to the doctor’s office on Tuesday and saw a PA. She was the only one available to see me that day. I was set up for an abdominal ultrasound for Wednesday morning, and the PA was definitely leaning towards gallbladder. I was instructed to eat a fat-free, dairy-free, meat-free dinner the night before the ultrasound and fast after midnight. When I felt the best I had felt in a long time that night with that diet, I was pretty positive it really was my gallbladder going into the ultrasound.
Ultrasound done. Wednesday afternoon, the PA called me and confirmed that I did have gallstones. She advised me to continue to avoid fatty foods and she’ put in a referral for a consult with general surgery to discuss my options. Ok great. Then, she said, “Incidentally…” and went on to tell me that the ultrasound also showed lesions on my liver and my left kidney. Lovely, I really DO have a liver tumor! She said they were really small, and probably nothing at all, but she wanted to set me up with a CT scan of my abdomen to evaluate further. She said she didn’t want me to worry. More than likely they were non-cancerous in nature. Um, yea, don’t worry. That’s pretty impossible to do!
They scheduled my CT for Friday morning.
I tried to remain level headed and not think about all the what-ifs. I had even determined that my liver might have a hemangioma before going into the CT. Now, I could not come up with anything that seemed good for my kidney. Stephen’s dad offered to come so that he could watch the kids and Stephen could go with me to the CT. It had never really occurred to us to have someone go with me. We were just in a get ‘er done mode. We took him up on his offer.
Friday morning came. If I said I wasn’t nervous, I would be lying. When you teeter on the brink of your future potentially changing drastically, it’s a bit daunting. Here I was at 35. Cancer happens all the time. My own mother had cancer for the first time in her early 30’s. Then, you walk into the radiology area and here are all these signs about cancer on the wall. Seriously?! I’m not kidding. ~sigh~
Went back and they gave me a big ole jug of contast to chug down. It just taste like orange tang, so it really wasn’t that bad. Just a bunch of it. Then, they started my IV. I waited a bit longer. Then, I was taken to the scanner. Laid down on the patient table. They hooked me up to the IV contrast. Then, it was “deep breath. hold.” Over and over. Then, they pushed the IV contrast. I am so glad she told me the sensations I would feel. It was weird. You feel all flushed (like a crazy hot flash) and you feel like you are peeing all over yourself. Seriously the strangest feeling. And, you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Weird. I just chalk these experiences up to new ways I can empathize with others that go through these.
The entire time I was in the CT, I was quoting scriptures over and over in my head. They had some light covers that were in the scene of a tranquil stream. One of the passages was Psalm 23. “He leadeth me beside still waters.” I was very at peace.
As the day progressed, I got antsy. It was a Friday afternoon, and I really wanted to know my results! I called and left a message for the PA to call me with my results. The lady that took my call said that my results were in the computer, but the provider would have to call me. Well, I waited. And, waited. After a couple of hours, I called back. Got a new receptionist. She took my name and everything and then she said, “Oh, so you’ve already called about this?” (they put the messages in the computer). I said, yes, I have, but I want to see if the PA was even there today. She confirmed that she was indeed working, but she was the only PA there today, so she was likely running her little tail off. She said she would call me back. Well, after this call, I was given a callback in about 5 minutes or so. 🙂
So, the CT showed that I did have a hepatic hemangioma, and that is nothing to worry about. Probably was born with it, and it’s one of those things you don’t know you have except for seeing it on scans like I had. Non-cancerous. Yeah! The kidney just showed up a little denser but there were no tumors or anything in the kidney! Yay!!!
We were all so incredibly relieved!! After going through all of that, the gallbladder seemed like nothing! We celebrated that afternoon by going bowling. Now, to deal with the gallbladder! Stay tuned.