Sunday, June 22, 2008

Might 'a Bin the Sausage

The trouble started at the end of March as I was getting ready for yet another round of Gemcitabine and Cisplatin, my latest chemo cocktail and one, thanks to the bloated bureaucracy of the Alberta Cancer Board, I was having to pay in the thousands for, myself. More about that gong show in another section.

It's a powerful combo, and had been successful in keeping things stable, but at an increasing cost to my stamina.  My guts complained a lot, and so did I.  But as I was laying in supplies for the upcoming chemo week, which always flattened me out, I had an unexpectedly good day and found myself, shopping in my favorite Italian deli, deciding to have a big fat sausage on a bun for lunch.  I never eat big fat sausages on crusty rolls, but it just looked so damned good.

Now, I have no idea whether fat sausages get stuck in your gut or not.  Some of my friends swear up and down that that's what set the whole thing off.  But for sure, over the next couple of days, my gut became increasingly unhappy.  I tend to take a "tough it out" approach to pain, with maybe a fair amount of ostrich thrown in, just in case the trouble might disappear on its own.  So I waited longer than I should have to call my doctor.  I even talked myself into thinking I was having a gall bladder attack.

So some shame on me for not being on top of things a bit earlier, but it's also part of the experience of living with this disease.  From the symptoms that led to my initial diagnosis to this latest adventure, many of the things going on in my body could be signs of other things, or nothing much at all.  Bloating and gut ache?  Who doesn't have that?  Passing gas?  Well, that's a high art in the culture of teenage boys.  Rumbly tummy noises?  When was the last time you were at a luncheon with middle aged women?  One of the truly weird things about ovarian cancer is that it doesn't feel anything like I thought cancer would feel like.

Not that I had any idea of what cancer would feel like--but I continue to be surprised by how ordinary even important symptoms turn out to be.  So when I could hear myself gurgling and roaring from across the room, when my abdomen got distended and full of cramps, and when I felt like throwing up, I had to pay attention, even when I didn't want to.

What got me on the phone was pulling my head out of the sand and going online to match up what was happening to me with what I actually suspected: I had joined the Unlucky 40% Club.  Seeing all this could be, might be, maybe isn't stuff in plain black and white made me cry, and it made me call my oncologist, who had me check into the hospital right away.  "Look," he said, "you live alone.  Come on in and let us take a few tests and look after you for a day or two till we know what's going on."

I started to cry again, packed a little bag, and had Sharon drive me in for a look-see that ended up taking a full 16 days.

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