Pain April 21, 2015Posted by Judy in Musings.
Tags: breast cancer, ct scan, oncologist, pain
Pain is both a good thing and a bad thing. Pain is good, because it alerts you to the fact that something is amiss. Imagine if you didn’t feel pain when you touched something hot, you’d end up with all kinds of burns. Pain is one of the ways that your body tries to preserve itself. When you feel pain, you should at the very least note it and not ignore it. Pain is also bad, because it tells you that something is amiss, and I think we’d all prefer to not have things be amiss.
Pain is interesting beause while most of the time it can be said that the intensity of the pain is directly proportional to the amount of damage happening to your body, this is not always the case. I think it’s pretty clear that you’d be in incredible pain and in bad shape if you’d suffered 3rd degree burns, or had a giant cut on your body. I think you’ll also agree that a scraped knee or a small bruise are neither excruciating or life-threatening. But what about that persistent headache, or the ache in your side or in your breast, or the bone pain that turn out to be something quite terrible? That’s the kind of pain that is evil and tricky and confusing. Once you’ve been attacked by THAT kind of pain, then every pain is cause for alarm. Some might be tempted to call you a hypochondriac. As I told my doctor: The last time I had a little pain, it tried to kill me, so I think I’ve earned the right to be paranoid and alarmed!”
Today, I’m paranoid and alarmed, and have been for a little over a week. A week ago Saturday, I started feeling a pain at the base of my neck, a pain that seemed muscular in nature, so I figured I’d slept wrong. DH massaged it a few times and I put some topical medicine on it in an effort to make the pain go away. That evening, I moved my neck and the pain radiated down to the front of my throat. “Hmmmm . . . that’s weird”, I thought. A little while later, I swallowed, and the pain shot back to the base of my neck. Double weird! The next day, the pain continued, I noticed that my voice wasn’t working quite right, and I felt swelling on one side of my trachea, the same side that got grazed with radiation. I decided that this wasn’t a pain that should be ignored and I planned to call the med onc’s office first thing on Monday.
I really like my med oncologist, but it’s nigh unto impossible to get a hold of people in his office. It’s deplorable! I called and left a very brief and non-detailed message for the nurse shortly after 8am. When I hadn’t heard back by 3pm, I called again. The receptionist confirmed that the nurse had received the message and was going to talk to the doctor. Uh, wait a sec . . . .shouldn’t she talk to me FIRST to get more details BEFORE talking to the doc? Needless to say, I didn’t get a call back. So that evening, I sent a detailed message to the nurse via the online messaging system. That must’ve been enough to nudge them into action, as I got a call on Tuesday. Of course, the doctor wasn’t in that day, but the radiation oncologist was in. He was consulted and thought the pain shoudl be investigated. I felt good that he didn’t blow me off as being overly paranoid! The following day, Wednesday, saw me heading to the Cancer Center to see what was up. By this point, the pain was a little less painful than it had been on Saturday, and the swelling on my trachea had practically gone away, but it was still radiating back and forth between my throat and neck. The doctor didn’t feel anything, but thought it wise to have a CT scan of my cervical spine. Happily, the insurance company approved the scan and I got a call on Friday afternoon from the scheduler.
I’ve decided that nothing with healthcare can be simple. This was no exception. The radiology tech felt that the diagnosis code didn’t match the requested test. Further inquiry found that the code was breast cancer (duh) and the test a cervical spine scan (also, duh, since the pain is in my neck), and they really were both correct. This still wasn’t good enough for the tech, so s/he decided to consult with the radiologist on duty. THAT doctor also questioned the test, so he decided to call the rad onc to see if he was sure about that test, suggesting that an MRI might be a better choice. My cynical inner monologue went something like this, “Well of COURSE an MRI would be better, it’s leagues more expensive and pads your pocket better! And yes, it’s clear that you know MORE than the acutal oncologist! Riiiiight!” I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the oncologist said, “I ordered a CT scan, that’s the test that I want.” Hahahaha, oh to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation =) Anyway, so I’m having a scan done Thursday morning, and I follow-up with the rad oncologist the following Monday. I’d be lying if didn’t say that I was a little more than stressed out about this whole thing. Someone asked me if I’d considered the possibilities. Yes, the “Shoot, the cancer’s gone to my bones or brain” thought already muscled it’s way into my brain and has taken up residence there. A small part of me thinks it’s just a confluence of factors (kink in my neck, possible cold, sheer exhaustion) causing the pain. But the fact that pretty much nothing has changed in the past week – except that today I seem to have developed a cold – makes me feel like the confluence of factors has nothing to do with it. *sigh*
If this was my only health stressor, that would be stressful enough. Facing a potential hysterectomy and a potentially failed scar revision (blog posts coming with deets, probably more than you want to know!) make the stress exponentially greater! I try not to think about it and pretend all is well.
Waiting is always the worst.
Monday will hopefully bring answers, but that seems so very far away!