The machines must have missed me. It's been, what? An entire month since I've been in one?
This past week has been extremely difficult for me. I won't go into details, except to say it involved my car breaking down, $750.00, travel to another state, and lots of pain: some mental and lots physical.
Do you remember the worst flu you ever had? The one where your fever was so high you just slept for three days, sweating in your bed, head throbbing, with every muscle, every bone, every molecule of your body aching with pain? Well, I have that flu, only minus the fever, and actually, the flu.
My feet are also swelling up, just when I was back to wearing heels comfortably, dammit. I have fat feet.
And, my long-time nemesis, the lower left back/flank pain, has returned - in full force. I kind of love that pain because it caught my liver mets early, but hate it because it hurts me. Usually, it lives in the background and it's manageable with the pain meds I am prescribed. But, the past few days, it has been extremely intense, preventing me from sleeping and traveling down through my hip and up my ribs. You know how when you are having a baby, and they give you an epidural, and the pain goes away, except some unlucky people still feel it in spots? So, they labor on their left side or lower back only?
It feels like that, only my baby is 14.
I had my chemo appointment last Wednesday, and as always, reported my symptoms to my chemo nurse. Swollen feet, body aches and and intense pain in the back, and as I said that, a tear dropped.
Yes, me. My eyes wet. I cried.
I really hurt.
I surprised even myself though; I planned on being my cheery self.
They gave me a shot of dilaudid which slightly relieved the pain, but only slightly, it was that bad. The doctor even made a surprise appearance in the infusion center, and knelt in front of me to ask me what was going on. I told him how much my back hurt. I felt like a liar since the last thing I'd said to him about it was that I wouldn't worry about it anymore. He was puzzled. We know it isn't cancer because the PET came out clean in that area. He thinks it might be a nerve injury. He asked me if I'd had an MRI, and I said "no" but I have two CTs that showed nothing.
So, MRI it is: Lumbar Spine and Pelvis with Contrast. I think it could be kidney, I even asked my nurse if a kidney stone could last this long (he said no) but this test won't show kidney...so who knows?
Friday was MRI day. I had a migraine when I woke up, and I took my second to last Imitrex shot. I just filled them and I can't fill them again for two more weeks, so clearly, this chemo is giving me migraines. (I don't want to think of the alternative). I had a two hour fast before the test, and my back was hurting, so I took my pain meds before the time I couldn't eat and drink. I read the paper and then took a hot bath to help ease the aching.
My headache returned as I was driving to the imaging center. I thought maybe I could just doze in the MRI machine and help relieve it. I arrived, filled out the same paperwork I have filled out dozens of times, and read Wired magazine while waiting. Usually I play on my iPhone or iPad but the screen was too bright for my migrainey eyes.
They took me back and I followed the drill. Undress, put clothes in locker, get on machine.
First, they did the lumbar spine and I was okay. My headache was pounding, but not terribly. But, when they pulled me out and told me to pee before they did the pelvic region, my headache increased. By the time she shot me up with contrast, I was in trouble.
Inside the machine, my headache grew as did my nausea. I concentrated on the air blowing across me so I wouldn't puke in the machine. I heard voices in the MRI, saying, "Health health health" and then "Die die die" and then "bye bye bye." I was having constant hot flashes and my back was aching and I felt so sick.
But, I didn't push that bulb, I stayed in the machine. Victory Victory Victory!
The test was over and the techs pulled me out. I immediately put my hands on my head, and they brought me an ice pack.
I got my stuff out of my locker and sat on the floor in the changing room and dumped the emergency meds I keep with me out onto the floor. I always keep a water bottle and drugs with me, so I picked out a compezine, two fioricet, and an imitrex pill and took them all at once. I got dressed, went to my car, and lay on the back seat with the ice pack on my head for a few minutes. It was pretty hot but I left the door open. When the nausea subsided, I got in the front seat, turned on the car for the air-conditioning, and lay the seat back, and sat there for about 20 minutes, alternating the ice pack between my head and neck.
Once I felt I could drive again, I put on sunglasses and went home. I came into the house, told my son to take care of the dogs, and injected my last imitrex shot. I went to bed and slept for several hours.
I'd promised to help my son with a project but didn't get to do that, which really disappoints me.
I haven't felt that sick in years. I've felt tired, yes. Exhausted yes. But, lately, I have felt sick. Terminally-ill type sick. I know it's temporary and I'll recover. As I write this, I'm sitting in my back yard, watching my dogs lie on the grass, listening to the fountain, back and legs aching but feeling okay. Gathering energy to make Gazapcho, my favorite summertime treat. Recovery is still possible but for the first time, independent me felt like I know what it's like to be incapable of taking care of myself.
The worst part is I'm not sure that MRI is going to show anything. I may join the groups of folks who have undiagnosed back pain who just have to live with it.
I feel sorry for you all.
Pain and Frustration
1 week ago