Saturday, August 7, 2010

Inflamed in the Membrane, Inflamed in the Vein

Since about the time of the chemo I've had this pain, really a tenderness to the touch, on the lower left of abdomen.  This pain kept me from really basking the glow of the good news from my last update.  I brought it up with the doctor that Friday (the day I got the all clear) and he felt around the area, but couldn't feel anything and assumed (I think) that it was gas/stool pain. 

But I could feel something.  Not just the tenderness, but something under the skin, close to the surface.  About 4 inches long, and very narrow.  It only hurt to the touch, otherwise I had no issues.  Exercising, going to work, etc.  No problems at all.

I made an appt with my GP b/c it didn't seem to be getting any better (or any worse) and went to that appt on Thursday.  He could feel it as soon as he touched the spot, but immediately tried to put my fears to rest by saying he didn't think it was anything serious, and certainly not cancer.  Cancer, of course, was my fear.  The abdomen is one of the primary spaces my cancer would return to if it were going to return.  I shot Julie an email to tell her what was going on, she wanted to come by but I told her just to wait at her office as it was probably  nothing.

But he also didn't know what it was, and sent me to a radiologist on another floor in his building for an ultrasound.  Up I went, the technician felt the spot then began the ultrasound exam.  About 5 minutes into the exam the tech turn to me and says "I need to get the radiologist."

Uh-ho.  I email Julie "you better come down here just in case."

The radiologist shows up with the tech, and he begins to ultrasound the spot.  They're talking to each other, as if I'm not in the room/can't hear them:  "I've never seen anything like this before," was stated more than once. They bickered back & forth about which image on the screen was the thing you could feel in my abdomen, finally settling on where it was and that blood was flowing through it.

I don't mean to leave you all in suspense, as far as they can tell it is not serious and I'm not in any trouble.  The best guess is that it is phlebitis, which is an inflammation of a blood vessel/vein.  It can be serious (blood clot) and require medication, but there was no evidence of a clot and by all accounts I have nothing to worry about.  Tylenol and heat were the recommendations to treat it, the expectation is that it will go away after a month or so.  If it doesn't I have to head back to the dr.

For a few days this week I was also experiencing a shortness of breath, what I imagine mild asthma must feel like.  That cleared up after two days, and the dr also listened to my lungs to make sure there wasn't any problem. 

Having had cancer all these little aches and pains which I would have self medicated with Tylenol and rest are now much harder to ignore.  I don't want to go to the dr for every bump and bruise, but now I'm more aware and worried about these things.

I've also noticed that since the chemo a few weeks ago I sweat a lot more now.  I've never been one to sweat much, no matter how much I ran or exercised, it was always with minimal sweat.  But now I sweat all of the time.  I have to admit, as disgusting a feeling as it is, this is one change I don't mind.  I've always felt my lack of sweating was a negative, I felt less manly when others would be drenched in sweat exercising, and I could run 6 miles with just my brow being damp.  Well no more, my pours spout liquid like I'm a sprinkler.  The only negative is I used to be able to wear the same shirt several days in a row to the office (I wear an undershirt always, so the dress shirt remained odor free) but not any more.  I have to get them cleaned after each wear.

Our summer vacation is just around the corner.  By the time we get out to our condo in Ocean City it will have been 13 weeks since we last saw it, 10 of those weeks occupied by weekly renters.  I know it will look beat up when we first arrive, but I can't wait.  Owning a beach condo is something I'd always dreamed about, and worked hard to achieve.  It seems that some people really think they want something, only to find disappointment when they achieve their dreams (the phrase "be careful what you wish for" springs to mind).  Since I can remember, I always knew I wanted to be with someone I loved, and who also loved me; I wanted a dog; I wanted a beach condo; I wanted to live in a high rise condo in a city.

Well I've got all those things now, and at a reasonably young age (although I feel a lot older after testicular cancer), and I can tell you there is no disappointment here.  I can't believe it's all here now, all mine.  Once I landed in DC I stoped screwing around as much with my life.  I worked hard a job that rewarded hard work.  I paid great sums of money each month to credit card companies to pay down thousands of dollars in debt that I had built up in college.  I still did stupid things now and then (still do), but I really wanted to find the person to share my life with, and I finally did.

But what really put me on the track to the happiness and total satisfaction I've had for the last decade was meeting and falling in love with Julie.  All the rest of it can come and go, the condo(s), the lifestyle, the dogs (well, maybe not the dogs).  I know how corny it sounds, but it is true.  Once Julie & I met things just clicked, once our relationship was cemented in mutual love and trust, the other good things came so much easier, and the bad stuff was easier to get past. 

I don't know how to end this post, it turned into something I didn't expect.  I've just been so incredibly happy these last 8 years, a kind of happiness that's deep down, a satisfaction with life.  I've had a few people say, after hearing about my cancer diagnosis:  "I bet this was a real wake up call, huh?"

I tell them honestly no.  It wasn't a wake up call.  I didn't need a wake up call.  Julie & I tell each other every day, usually several times a day, that we love each other.  We buy each other little gifts all the time for no reason, except we're thinking about each other.  We talk all the time about how great it is to have a dog like Bica, to live in the heart of downtown DC, to have a condo in Ocean City.  To run among the monuments on the Mall each morning.  We hold hands when we walk the streets, we kiss when someone goes to take our photo. 

Well I've got to end this post eventually, so here goes:  These years with Julie have been the happiest of my life.