Friday, August 20, 2010
I was driving home from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. With about an hour left in my commute my back began to cramp and shortly thereafter my right arm joined in with throbbing pain. As I was nearing home I nearly had to pull over and stop as I was flooded with waves of pain. I really didn't think much of the pain and wrote it off as a back spasm.
When everything you know is about to change overnight.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
By now, the pain in my back and arm began to impede my ability to perform day-to-day tasks and even walk for that matter. Sadi suggested I get a massage and off I went to the masseuse for an hour long massage, I felt a bit better. But, just a short time later the waves of pain flooded back through me and I spent the rest of the day laying down.
I still didn't think too much of the pain and figured it'd go away by the morning.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
After a night of increasing pain and little sleep, Sadi finally convinced me to go to the E.R. at 5 a.m. When we arrived, I felt a bit embarrassed telling the triage nurse that I had back pain, even if I was barely able to walk.
Initially, the E.R. doc thought I was having heart problems and hooked me up to the EKG, took ample viles of blood and then sent me off to radiology for a chest x-ray. All the results came back negative, yet the pain kept getting worse. After a series of pain meds were feed through my I.V., including morphine (did I mention how bad the pain was?), the pain refused to yield.
The doc came back and was about to discharge me. I mentioned the meds did not do much of anything for my pain which gave the doc reason to pause. On a whim, he said: Let's get you a CT scan to make sure nothing's wrong inside your heart. And off I went back to radiology.
An hour later the doc returned to my room accompanied by another doc. When they entered, I knew something wasn't right when they brought with them an air of seriousness. The good news was the CT scan showed that my heart was healthy. And then they told me that the scan revealed a large mass sitting a couple of inches below my heart.
The docs could not identify the mass, nor did they want to speculate. They said I'd have to check-in to the hospital so they could perform a series of more thorough tests. This is not good.
Since this was a Sunday, nearly all the facilities in the hospital were closed. So, Sadi and I spent the rest of the day as an in-patient. Me, I was being injected with all sorts of pain meds until we found one that began to reduce the pain. Sadi, she was being a trooper and taking care of anything I needed.
Everything I thought I knew changed overnight.
Monday, August 23 to Saturday, August 28, 2010
I spent the next week in the hospital being poked, prodded, x-ray'd, biopsy'd, bone-scanned, CT-scanned, injected with radioactive material, scanned some more, angio-grammed and given ample amounts of pain medication.
I'm not sure I've ever been as scared as I was those first couple of days. We had no idea what this mass was inside of me. All we knew was this mass was sitting a couple of inches below my heart, was around 9"x4" (yes, that big!) and completely surrounds my vena cava (the big giant vein feeding all the blood from the lower half of the body to the heart's bottom right ventricle).
Was this cancer? Was this spreading through my body? What is this?
The initial conclusion is I have a ganglioneuroma. A tumor originating from my spine. A tumor so large and strong it has caused a curvature in my spine. A tumor growing very rapidly. For all the nastiness of this tumor, there is a positive: it is benign.
What's to come?
The tumor must be surgically removed. This is not an everyday surgery. The tumor is attached to my spine, resides in the retro-peritoneum, completely surrounds the vena cava and is positioned near quite a few vital organs. This is more than a benign tumor.
We've been told this type of tumor is rare. So rare that a tumor surgeon may only see this once in their life. Like everything else in my life, I just have to be different.
We were hoping to be headed to a specialty surgeon this week to begin the lengthy process of surgery and recovery. Unfortunately, figuring this out is taking much longer than we anticipated. As soon as we know where we'll be heading, we'll be sure to let everyone know.
Thanks for listening and please consider the Tumor Surgery Fund