I remember

I was awake half the night with the thoughts for this post running around in my head. I sorta know what triggered it, but I am not sure WHY. So…you get a blog post. Lucky you!

Late last year I started getting random pain in my lower left/center abdomen area. I can’t really pinpoint which organs, since knowing exactly where my organs are is not a strong point for me. Ovaries? Intestines? Stomach? *shrug* Anyways, this pain is a “knock you out of your chair and make you cry” kind of thing. My first thought was cysts bursting…except that I’ve been on BCP for over a year now and I don’t HAVE any cysts because of it. After it struck while I was in philosophy class last year, I went to the doc. I mean, I was white knuckling my desk (I sat in the front row!) and trying not to make a sound. I couldn’t have gotten up and left the room because I couldn’t walk. I was trying to gasp for breath very quietly. Talk about embarrassing! A friend thought it might be diverticulitis, and the doc sent me to get a CT scan of my abdomen to see what they could find. The result was “inflamed lymph nodes around the intestines”. Nothing to be done for it but ride them out, and no idea what’s causing it. I assume it’s the fibro, except that THAT isn’t supposed to cause inflammation. I do, however, have inflammation of some sort running rampant through my body.

Last night it struck again. I haven’t been able to figure out what triggers it. In philosophy class, I think I shifted in my seat. Other times I haven’t even moved when it’s struck. Last night I was laying on the couch, trying to get my back to behave (it’s been spasming for a week now…). I took my hair out of its ponytail…and the pain struck. I laid there, trying very hard to breathe very carefully while pressing down on my abdomen area to try and soothe the spasms. You can visibly SEE the muscles rolling and freaking out – kind of weird to watch, even weirder to feel.

As I lay in bed last night, I got to thinking about the day mom had to go to the ER. It was the day they discovered that she had a tumor, what would be diagnosed a few days later as ovarian cancer. I remember. I remember her getting up from breakfast and going to lay down on her bed. I remember getting up a few minutes later and going in to her, to find her quietly crying on the bed and unable to talk from the pain. I remember directing my father and my grandmother to call 911, gather up all her medications so they’d know what she was taking, while soothing mom and holding her hand. I remember waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the Quick Response Unit to arrive at the house…although it was probably more like 5-10 minutes because it’s a small town and some of the QRU responders lived just down the street from my parents. I don’t remember the ride in, but I remember being there at the hospital. Three days later we were in SLC, having the tumor removed, and found out it was indeed cancerous. I had sent my husband home because he had to work but I didn’t. I spent almost a week in the hospital in SLC with her, before they let her go home. My dad had had to go back home because his mother was visiting from MA and refused to come to SLC. I may never forgive her for that – for putting my father in the position of having to decide between her and his wife. I don’t know what the outcome would have been if I hadn’t been there, but I hate to think my mom would have been in the hospital all by herself. I might never have forgiven HIM if he’d done that.

But the pain – I remember her pain. I remember where her tumor was and it was on the same side my pain is. I know there was nothing there but inflammation 6-8 months ago, but…what if things have changed? I know my risks of getting cancer are fairly high – my mother, her mother, and we think HER mother all had breast cancer. Things just weren’t talked about back then like they are now. My maternal grandmother waited a long time before going to her doc about the lump, and she died 6 weeks after removal because it had spread to her brain. My mother was smarter than that, but she still ended up dying because of cancer. FUCK CANCER! I know my chances are high, but there’s not a whole lot I can do. I get all my checkups annually, just like I should. I watch for abnormalities in my body, but…well, I’ve always had lumpy breasts because of the fibrous tissue. It’s better now that I’ve had the Boy, but they are still there. There’s no way to distinguish between my normal lumps and a cancerous lump – even the doc says so. This ab pain is supposedly inflamed tissue…but what if it’s not? It’s the what if’s that kept me awake. Mom had some abnormal bleeding (she was postmenopausal but having breakthrough bleeding) but nothing else until that Sunday. My cycles started going wonky about a year and a half ago, which is the other reason I was put on BCP. They started going wonky around the time the pain started. Coincidence? Apparently so, since I just have “inflamed lymph nodes”. I don’t know. I don’t want to run to the doc and get a scan every time this strikes, but I don’t want to ignore it either. *sigh*

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  1. Sounds like (and this could be completely wrong, but it’s what makes sense from what you’ve said) the inflamed lymph nodes are pressing on a nerve. When things shift around in just the wrong way, the nerve gets pinched, creating sharp and agonizing pain. Which really sucks.

    Is there anything they can do about it? Anti-inflammatory? Normally (though obviously not always) inflamed lymph nodes are a sign of infection. (Clearing out the detritus which piles up from infections and such is what they’re for.) The other possibility I can think of (which would very much suck) is lymphoma, but I have to assume your doc thought of that. Has the possibility been ruled out?

    Check it out. Maybe get a second opinion. It pays to be cautious. Especially given family history.

    But occum’s razor would seem to indicate it’s an inflammatory disorder of some kind (like you said, fibro isn’t, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something else…) and it hurts because it’s pinching a nerve.

    • It struck again last night because I leaned to the side to shift my weight, lending more credence to the “pinched nerve” theory to me. Lymphoma has not been brought up, which means it hasn’t been ruled out. I see the rheum this Friday and my regular doc next Friday, so I will do some research and see if I think it’s a possibility. If it is, I will bring it up to whichever one should have that scope.

      *sigh* Feeling this old sucks, you know? Well, I KNOW you know.

    • Huh. Doing research on lymphoma brought me this as a less common disorder “Immunodeficiency-associated lymphoproliferative disorders: associated with methotrexate therapy”. Guess who has been on Methotrexate for, like, 2 years? Yeah, looks like I’ll be talking to the rheum.

  2. Hard sometimes just living with something with the specter of what-if hanging over you. FWIW I’ve been told to call/go in with changes of symptoms. If it’s pain or bleeding I’ve had in the past I’m free to ignore it (with the caveat of regular check-ups), but if it’s new or seems concerning that is when they want to know.

    • It’s true. And it’s less of a “what-if” for me and more of a “when-if”. I firmly believe that I will, at some point, develop at least breast cancer and it would not surprise me in the least if I developed ovarian cancer like mom. It’s just a matter of “when” and I know there is little you can do to prevent it. Yes, I realize that seems pessimistic, but I’d really rather not be taken completely by surprise.

      As I just told Paul, I have visits with both of my docs in the next few weeks. So far this has been under my regular doc’s scope, but I might bring it up to the rheumatologist simply because if it’s an inflammation thing, he’s the one attempting to treat that.

  3. That sucks. I worry about you, you know. I have enlarged lymph nodes in my neck from allergies and just being a sickly kid, and it makes them feel a lot worse when there is something wrong, like an earache or cold sore or tonsillitis. Maybe it’s something easy like that? Sigh. It’s so much easier to tough it out when you *know* what’s going on.

    • I worry about you too! It beats worry about me, most of the time. Me, I can’t solve. You I might be able to help!


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