My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

23 May 2007

one way to spend a weekend

For some reason, the thing I remember most clearly from that morning is the time on the clock. It was dark in the room, Caleb was sound asleep, the pain consumed me, and yet I took a moment of clarity to memorize the digital message: 3:43 a.m. Too early to be up. Why am I up? And then as I became more lucid, I was suddenly extremely aware of the intense pain in my back.

Oh no, say it isn’t so. The last time I felt pain like this it was a … but it can’t be, I don’t want it to be. It may have been 14 years ago, but I remember that pain, and it was really bad. I really didn’t want to do that one over again. But, though I try and deny it, but this was exactly the same kind of pain.

It took only moments to move from denial to acceptance. Kidney stone. And that means only one thing: emergency room. NOW.

The stupid things are measured in millimeters. MILLIMETERS! And yet they cause pain that most who’ve experienced them describe as “the worst pain I’ve ever felt.” How does something so small cause so much turbulence? And more importantly, how do I stop it??

Well, my groaning woke up Caleb, and within about 10 minutes we were dressed and on our way to the emergency room at St. Jude’s. I think we were there by a little after 4 a.m. They made me answer some questions, sent me to pee in a cup, and eventually gave me a room, with a warm hospital gown and a warm blanket … and best of all, pain medication. Ah, sweet relief was on its way!

They drew blood, started me on an IV, and gave me the first dose of pain meds. Then the second dose. Then a third dose to help with the nausea often induced by the second dose. People came and went from the room … the nurse with the pain meds, the doctor assuring me they’d check me out, the guy taking the blood sample, and then the guy who wheeled me to the CAT scan room. His name was Michael. Another thing I remember clearly. The CAT scan was how they determined that it was, indeed, a kidney stone. Caleb got to watch the digital pictures of my insides with the CAT scan tech. He thought that was cool. I just wanted more pain medication … which they gave me after I was wheeled back to my room.

That fourth dose of meds took the last of the lingering pain away, and left me feeling warm and fuzzy all over. But it also left me extremely woozy. By about 6:30 they released me from the hospital, and into a weekend of more pain and extreme nausea. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday unable to keep any food down, feeling pretty miserable. By late Sunday night the nausea finally abated, and I was able to eat a piece of bread. I’ve never been so excited for a piece of bread in my life. I spent Monday and Tuesday recovering from Saturday and Sunday, mostly eating and sleeping, and by Wednesday morning was back at work. Although, I only made it until 12:30.

Today is Thursday. I still haven’t passed the stone, but for some reason am not feeling much pain. So I’m medication-free for the time being. I suppose I could have passed it without knowing, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened. And I’m dreading that now-familiar feeling of the pain returning, reminding me of the slightly-larger-than-a-piece-of-sand sized stone wreaking havoc within me.

They say men call kidney stones the worst pain they’ve ever felt, while women tend to liken them to childbirth. My aunt, whose had both, always said she preferred childbirth, because at least when it was over she had something to show for it. I’ve never given birth, so I stick with the men for now and simply call it the worst pain I’ve known. And maybe I’ve proven I’ll make it through childbirth some day.

I guess today I just say thank God for prescription narcotics, warm hospital blankets and the most patient and caring husband a woman could ask for. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

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