Up until now, I think I’ve been handling this whole thing pretty well, if I do say so myself. Of course, feeling that I have been covered with a warm, fuzzy blanket of prayer has helped immensely. I’ve prided myself on staying calm and focused, retaining my sense of humor, and just taking the one necessary next step at a time.
Let’s back this train up to last Tuesday, so you can see where it all began.
I’d been having some pain in my back and hips lately, and attributed it to arthritis. I’d never had arthritis in my hips, but I do have it in my hands, and at nearly 50, it seemed reasonable to assume that it might be spreading, exacerbated by the cooler, wetter weather we’ve been having. I was having trouble getting warmed up at the gym – I was stiff, and it didn’t seem to go away. I started doing more stretching and less circuit training, but I just couldn’t get loose.
It was the first Tuesday of the month – stamp club. I was prepared (for once) and had already completed my project to share. I’d made two hybrid cards; a combination of traditional paper crafting and my new Digital Studio program – something I was in the process of getting certified in. I was excited to show the girls at club what I’d done.
I was also in my traditional pre-that-time-of-the-month cleaning frenzy. The laundry was all done, the floors mopped, bathrooms cleaned – the house was looking good. I knew it was “that time” because I was cramping, although the pain seemed to be only on one side, and was stabbing right through to my back. At 4:00 pm, I took a couple of Tylenol and lay down for a while with Fred. By 5:00 pm, the pain was gone and I got up and started dinner.
Although I didn’t have much of an appetite, I ate a pork chop and had some fruit. I went upstairs and put on my makeup, getting ready for club. The pain started coming back – quickly, taking me by surprise. It was 6:30 pm, and I told David I wanted to lie down for a few minutes and see if the pain passed again. About fifteen minutes later, I asked him to call my friend and tell her I wasn’t feeling well, and would not be at club. By 7:00 pm, I was in the bathroom crying and admitted to David that I probably needed to go to the hospital.
By 7:30 pm, I was in a wheelchair in the ER, crying softly and writhing from the worst pain I had ever experienced. The waiting room was crowded with people waiting to be triaged. Many were wearing surgical masks as a precaution against the flu. I was embarrassed to be crying in front of everyone – they were all eyeing me uncomfortably – but I just couldn’t stop. David told me later that he was toying with the idea of wheeling me outside and calling for an ambulance from his cell phone so that they would see me more quickly. During this whole ordeal, I felt the need to keep apologizing for the inconvenience. David has been travelling almost non-stop for the past three weeks, and the poor man just got home Monday night.
By 9:30 pm (and here I am relying on David’s time line, as mine is somewhat blurred) I have seen a doctor, had a CAT scan and felt the blessed relief of IV Dilaudid. They’re pretty sure I have a kidney stone. I had heard the pain from a kidney stone was worse than labor pain, and I had always maintained that anyone who said that had never experienced a labor pain. I was wrong. I’d take labor any day.
Some time later that evening – I’m thinking maybe 11 pm or so – the doctor came back in with the results of the CAT scan. I did have a kidney stone – a huge 8mm stone – the cause of all my pain, and as it turned out, one of the greatest blessings of my life.
The kidney stone that caused the pain, that brought me to the ER, that got me into the CAT scan machine also caused another surprise to be revealed – lymphoma in my groin and abdomen. Maybe it was the pain meds, or maybe it was the total unreality of the words, but I took the news with complete calm and maybe even a little nonchalance. The ER doc explained that lymphoma was a very treatable cancer, and that if he had to choose a type of cancer to have, lymphoma would be the one to go for. He tells me “I’ll be honest with you – it’s going to be a rough couple of months, but this cancer has a high cure rate.”
By 3:00 am, or only a few doses of Dilaudid later, I am tucked into a hospital bed and sleeping soundly. And thus endeth the first day.