Monday, June 10, 2013

Pain in the Ass

"Tomorrow? Yes, I can do that," I said to Dr. L's nurse. "Yes, I know I need to be there an hour early to drink that stuff. Do you know if he's just requesting a CT scan of the pelvis?" I waited while she checked the prescription and responded, "Looks like the usual pelvis, abdomen and chest CTs will be performed."

Are you confused? Isn't my three-month follow-up scan scheduled for the end of July? 

Let me back up a bit.

For those of you who are familiar with my original blog about my cancer treatment process, you'll remember how completely open and honest I was about every single detail of the journey. TMI or not, I wrote it all out for you to read. I don't intend to change my ways for this blog, though I really never expected to have to discuss my vagina this time. 

Surprise! I was wrong!

It began about three weeks ago. All of a sudden I started noticing a dull, aching sensation inside my vagina right at the "cuff" where it was sewn up after my hysterectomy. Understand that I'm not saying my vagina was sewn up. I'm all good there. But after my uterus was removed, Dr. L stitched up the very top part inside to make the cuff I'm referring to. Anyway, the pain started to come and go and seemed to shoot toward the left, which was the location of my original tumor two years ago. Needless to say, I freaked out. When you've had a history of cancer it's important to follow a simple rule my support group has put into place. Any new pain that lasts two weeks needs to be checked out by the oncologist. So I started counting the days.

Day one.

I felt a dull ache.

Day two.

Dull ache combined with some shooting pain.

Day three.

A phantom pain where my left ovary used to be appeared.

Day four.

I started noticing a random pain in my clavicle and another in my neck. Lymph nodes, maybe?

Day five.

The pains started to subside.

Day six.

Back to just a dull ache here and there.

Day seven.


Ok, I guess I don't need to call the doctor. Whew!

But then came the phase two. About three days after the vaginal pain disappeared, I started to have that dull ache my ass. Oh, sorry. In my rectum. 

Hmmm...this is new. 

In case you don't remember from my first blog, I had 28 cycles of external radiation as one of my treatments. Unlike chemo side effects, some of the side effects from radiation can last forever. I still have bowel issues and vaginal bleeding after sex. I leak urine throughout the day and things just generally hurt sometimes. But the butt sensation was new, and combined with the snoochie pain I'd had the week before, it scared me.

Should I call the doctor now?

My sensible side told me to call but everything was moving along with Lily and Jason and I really wanted to push it out of my head and will it to go away. I mean, last time everything in my life seemed to be going the way I wanted it to I ended up with cancer. Why would I think that couldn't happen again? Luckily, about three days of the pain in the ass came and went, then, finally it just went.

Ok, cool. I'll continue on with my plans.

And then, last Thursday, something else popped up. I was at the gym and I felt what seemed like a pinched nerve in my lower back, extending down the right cheek. I'm being proper here, but what I'm really saying is that I had another pain in my ass. This time I'd feel it any time I lifted my right leg to take a step. Yes, if I were a normal person I'd just assume I'd pulled something during a workout. But cancer "survivors" are not normal people. We are scared people.

This new annoyance continued through Friday and Saturday. By Saturday night, walking was becoming increasingly difficult, as it hurt with each step I took. Interestingly enough I was completely fine while sitting, standing still or lying down. I kept telling myself I had just pulled a muscle, but the longer I went without working out while still having the intensity increase, the more I started thinking it might be something worse.

Could it be a tumor?

Sunday was agony. I invited my parents over for dinner and the strain of cleaning up and cooking for everyone made the pain almost unbearable. Fear started creeping into my head like a monster, silently sneaking out of a child's closet late at night. I had to call the doctor first thing in the morning.

I woke up this morning, limped downstairs, moaned as I took the puppy outside to pee, grunted as I climbed back upstairs to wake the boys and whined as I held tightly onto the bannister and hobbled back downstairs to get everyone ready for school. I just wanted to wait for the kids to leave before I made the call to Dr. L's office so they wouldn't hear me.

But before I had a chance to make the call I noticed an e-mail from Tara congratulating Lily and me, once again, and giving each of us the other's contact information so we could start getting to know each other. Up until this point, Lily and my communications had been facilitated by Tara, not by direct contact. While my heart wanted to immediately reach out to this amazing woman and thank her for the gift of her uterus, my head put a stop to it. What if the cancer is back? What if this whole baby thing is all a big tease, like dangling a banana in a monkey's face then yanking it away before he has a change to get his hands on it?

But I didn't have much time to contemplate my next move before I heard...



"Good morning, Suzanne!"

It was from Lily. I never thought she'd write first, but I was so excited that she did. We exchanged a few friendly notes back and forth, and, in between, I put in a call to Dr. L's office, explained my symptoms and was awaiting a call back. Nothing about my initial impression of Lily was swayed during our brief e-mail exchange. She still came across as totally down-to-Earth, easy to talk to and completely genuine. Should I tell her I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor?



"Hi Suzanne. I spoke to Dr. L and he wants to move your July CT scan to tomorrow."

Insert conversation from above here.

So that's where it stands. Tomorrow at 12:40 PM I'll be full of oral contrast with an IV dangling out of my arm, waiting to be filled with injectable contrast as I slide in and out of the giant internal picture machine. I have no idea when I'll have the results this time. Usually my scans are scheduled for the day before a follow-up appointment with my oncologist, but this time the nurse said, "After Dr. L reviews the results we'll see how he wants to proceed."


Hopefully I won't get a call saying, "We have the results but he needs to see you in person." Good or bad, a call like that will send me into hysterics. Basically, unless I get a call that immediately confirms that everything is ok, I'm gonna be a basket case. On the plus side, a surprise scan saves me the weeks of anxiety buildup that come with a scheduled scan. I don't have time to stress over it. I don't have a chance to bite everyone's head off the week leading up to it because I don't have a week to let it wear me down.

I have 11 hours. Wish me luck.

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