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Pain, Opium, and Double Trouble

by Tom on July 20th, 2009

The pain from last night only got worse as I slept. I spent the night sitting up in bed, a position that didn’t hurt as much as others.

After waking up I had the pleasure of finding that all attempts to get out of bed were met with intense pain. Pain that motivated me to stay in bed and not move a muscle. Except for the muscles used in taking two Percocet, and calling the oncology nurse (Sharon) that works with Dr Norman.

I described the pain (shoulder pain, likely because of spleen interacting with diaphragm) and she paged Dr Norman to ask his advice. She called us back with the request that we head to Urgent Care, where she’d ordered some pain medication and a CAT scan.

We also called our friend Lauren (an EMT) for backup.

I got into the car verrry slowly and Jana drove Lauren and I to the hospital post-haste.

We checked-in at Urgent Care and were admitted right away, skipping triage and much waiting. Vitals were recorded, a bit of blood was drawn, and then we got started on medication.

First was the awesomely-named anti-nausea drug Ondansetron, which would be a great name for a disco robot.

Then they got to the actual pain medication: Dilaudid. It’s just about as close as you can get to pure opium. I didn’t notice tremendous effect, but my dosage amount was pretty low.

Then: a surprise visit from Dr Norman! He stepped in to give us a briefing on the next steps. He didn’t have the full pathology report on the lymph node yet, but he was hearing unofficially that there appear to be colonies of more than one type of lymphoma. His suspicion is that I could have LPL that has spun off an instance of DLBCL along the way.

That’s right… I may have double cancer. Trump card for sympathy! Twice the bounty when I beat them both!

The chemotherapy would be intended to attack and destroy both cancers during the series.

We launch our attack tomorrow at 10am.

After some time to let the medication kick in, they took me downstairs for another CAT scan. We wanted to ensure that this pain wasn’t due to some sort of rupture or bleeding. Sure enough, my spleen is totally intact.

As the level of pain itself was not reduced, and judging from the serious effort it took to get out of bed this morning, the doctor in Urgent Care recommended that I stay in bed overnight in an observation room. A scant hour later we were on our way to the room.

And so here I sit, just about ready to fall asleep. Tomorrow will be a big day: the beginning of a long series of chemotherapy. I feel anxious about having my body burned from the inside, and dealing with sickness and reactions I’ve never known. But I’m ready to start removing uncertainty, to continue trusting in the support of friends, and to give these cancer cells a much-needed “etiquette lesson.”

From → Diagnostic Phase

3 Comments
  1. Heather McCall permalink

    You are amazing. We are thinking about you. We will get in touch with Jana to find out if you need anything. We have Tinkerbell and the Little Mermaid on DVD. Just saying.

  2. Karen permalink

    Etiquette indeed! GO Tom!!!!!!!!

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