Tag Archives: liver lesions

Addiction 

I avoid drugs. I know how easy it is to become addicted to pain killers, so I was always scared to take them. Since I have always been vocal about this to all of my doctors, they are never worried about me and always tell me, “Don’t be a hero and just take the drugs if you need to”. (Well ok they do not use the term “hero”, that’s my ad lib 😉) 

After my second surgery in 2014, I saw first hand how easy it was for my body to become addicted to drugs. Even though my mind wanted nothing to do with it, my body began going through extreme withdrawal when I tried to stop taking the Oxycodones. My skin felt like it was crawling, I was sweaty but shivering, and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I was forced to continue to take them and gradually reduce the dose. Since then I have refused to take anything other than just regular ole Advil – well until recently. 

I was in a lot of pain and discomfort after my recent lung surgery, and when I went in for my post-op, my surgeon told me to just take even a single pill if I think it might help. After discussing it with Chris, we both decided that I will have to try it as the Advil did not seem to be doing the job this time. So I cut the oxycodone in half and took it at 6:00pm. At 9:30pm I still felt no relief so I took the other half. By 10:00pm my whole body was numb and I felt drunk. No joke. I had to put myself to bed. 

The following day I had plans in the morning so I woke up and felt groggy, but I figured that was only because it was 8:00am. It wasn’t until I was half way to my destination that I realized, “holy crap I am SO high right now and should NOT be driving”. I pulled into a parking lot and had my friend pick me up. This feeling lasted till the mid afternoon! 

When I got home I looked at the bottle, my original prescription was 1-2 every four hours!! WHO COULD SURVIVE THAT?! 

Never again – I went back to just suffering through the pain. 

So, this story is not even the main reason for this post…. I will have to write an “addiction part two” tomorrow. 

But to finish off our discussion about oxycodone – or just any pain reducing drug for that matter. BE CAREFUL. The doctor will prescribe you what is the standard dose, but LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Do not just read the label and pop away, see what works for you. I am not advocating to never take a pain pill. Tolerances for pain are different for each individual, and if you are in too much pain then that will actually harm your healing process. All I want to make known is just to be aware of the problems that can come from taking pain killers. It may help with your pain but it may be hurting you in some other way. These drugs are strong so please use with caution. 

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Like Christmas Morning

Throughout the years I have always heard the worst things about chemotherapy. So finding out I was going to be on one of the strongest doses was a tad overwhelming. I mean yes, it was going to attack and hopefully kill the bad cells, but at the same time kill the good ones too. I was put on the schedule of coming biweekly, with one of my drugs being hooked up in a bottle that I would bring home and that would flow into me for another 46 hours.

Treatment One

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During and after leaving I was thinking “What was all the hype about?” Yes I am a little tired but honestly if this is the worst of it, this shit is a breeze.

Treatment Two

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This was the start of my hair loss. Even with that I only had two bad days where I felt drained. I did have one morning feeling nauseous, but as soon as I put something in my stomach it seemed to go away.

Treatment Three

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This day so far was definitely the worst. I was sweating like a fool during and after leaving the hospital. I was also so exhausted I felt like I walked home from Toronto. That night upstairs on the couch all I wanted was cold pineapple. Too exhausted to even get up to pee (honestly in my head I would go back and forth with how long I could hold it.), I used my cell phone to call my house phone to ask someone to bring it up. My parents have been amazing, and my mom came upstairs laughing with the pineapple.

“Your Dad and I were laughing how you are really milking this cancer thing.”

Now before you get all judgy wudgy, I have been the WORST with the jokes. I constantly joke about my cancer. It helps to laugh about it instead of dwell. This night however I was extra vulnerable and they had no idea. I started crying.

“I’m not faking it though. I actually feel so sick.” I said with tears falling faster than Niagara Falls.

“Oh my goodness I am so sorry we were just joking! You know, how you do all the time!?”

“I control the jokes!!”

That was the last time they started a conversation with jokes. My poor parents lol. From that day I had another 2 days feeling like this, but still that was about it.

Treatment Four

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This was just yesterday. There was a lot of information thrown at me that day (which I will get to another time, in another post), but overall it was an easy chemo day. Even today I woke up feeling pretty good. That is how my mornings go now. I sit up and can pretty much instantly assess whether it will be a good or bad day. I did however find out before this treatment that my white blood counts are right at the minimum level. So as a lot of people on chemo have experienced, I am being placed on a self injecting drug for 8 days to help with my counts.

Overall my chemo days have become like Christmas morning to me. I look forward to every session and count the days leading up to it. Is it making me weaker, no question. However it is also attacking the little fucks that have put me in this state. For that, I love chemo :).

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The Challenge

Two days after my diagnosis, I was sent to St. Joseph hospital to meet with my surgeon who would now be looking after my case. My doctor walked in the room and sat down with a picture of a liver. He began to explain the different quadrants of the liver, and how he needs 20% healthy liver tissue in order to operate. As he placed the cartoon depiction of the liver on the table he pulled out his pen, and the circling began.

“You have multiple mets on each section of your liver. At this time we are not able to operate. I will be honest with you, it is very rare in cases like yours I am ever able to operate.”

My mom, my dad and myself all cracked. He let me know he wanted to start me on chemotherapy right away. He set me up with an appointment to meet my Oncologist, as well as my day surgery for my Port-A-Cath. This was all going to happen in the afternoon. I started having a meltdown and asked everyone to leave the room

“So, now I am really going to die.” – This was the first thought that had entered my brain. In that moment I reverted right back to a child like state. I got up from my chair, climbed up on the doctor office bed, and laid down in the fetal position crying. My doctor returned to check in on me and we began having what I like to call “real talk”. It was during that conversation something came over me. This feeling of determination, of not wanting to be a pussy about it. “Suck it up, stop crying, get on with it.”, I told myself.

I sat up, wiped my tears, looked him square in the eye, and gave him my challenge – “I challenge you to a surgery. You will be seeing what my liver looks like within the year. Year and a half tops.”

“Ok Jamie. Challenge accepted.”

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Sound The Alarm

I was feeling slighty calm going into the hospital with my mom. Although I could vividly remember my freak out at my colonoscopy 10 years ago, I was a human pin cushion the last few days. The nurse started with the standard questions, but I was quick to inform her about my last experience. That is when she posed the question “May I ask why you are here, and why you had one before so young?”. I told her the two minute version of my story. Like clockwork the minute I said “liver lesions”, she stopped, looked up at me with “the face”, put her hand on my thigh and said “I’m so sorry”. Ummmm sorry for what lady?

Let me also tell you that a needle in the arm is very different then what feels like an 8 foot long needle going into your hand. I passed out.

After the colonoscopy I knew what to expect. The nurse wakes you up, doctor comes by and says “you’re good to go”, and then your ride comes to pick your sore ass (literally) up. Now, I should also mention for those who have never been to day surgery before, it is a big room jammed full of people. Nurses running around and patients everywhere either who just came out, or are sitting around with their saline bag hooked up waiting to go in. I was woken up and amongst the chaos, the room went silent. I heard the nurse across the room on the phone…

“Hi Jorjan…. Jamie is all done and awake…. How far away are you?….. The doctor is going to wait for you to get here.”

I knew.

After revealing the polaroid of four bleeding tumours, the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m going to have a poo bag!?”. The rest of that small conversation is a blur. My dad almost fainted, my mom surprisingly held it together, and I was a blubbering train wreck. The doctor confirmed it was stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver. He let us know he was going to refer me to another surgeon right away. I kept begging him to just take me back to the operating room and cut it out now, but he obviously couldn’t just do that. So we left to go home and wait to hear about an appointment with another surgeon. In my head I gave myself 6 months, just like my grandma.

 

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The Face

Describing a facial expression is proving to be harder than I originally thought. April 8th, 2014 was what I call “The Day of the Doctors”. First appointment of the day was with my family doctor. I have been going to him since I was in diapers and my parents as well as sister all see him. He knows my medical history as well as my family’s history inside and out. He walked in the room, sat down and said “What is going on with you?”, as he opened up my file and gave me what I call “the face”. He flipped through all of my past papers as he described to me his confusion when he first received my CT results. That was the first real moment I could feel the shift in my life. These “shadows” or what he was now referring to as “liver lesions”, were more serious than I made myself shrug off over the weekend. I kept asking him what he thought they were, and what the worst case scenario would be. He refused to give me anything to work off of, explaining my surgeon will have a better idea.

Second visit was to a blood clinic. Although my family doctor was sure that my surgeon would request a blood test, he ordered me one anyways just in case. I had time between the two appointments so I thought what the heck.

Meeting with the general surgeon was a little daunting. I was going with the thought that he would be speaking to us (I forgot to mention my mother decided to take the afternoon off to come to this appointment.) about getting me a liver biopsy. We are called in, sit down, and he asks, “What are you here for?”. Um, shouldn’t you know already? I pipe up and say I had a CT of my abdominal area and he has the results. He looks down at them, and then gives me “the face”.

After explaining that if they are hemangiomas he will not be able to biopsy them, he begins to explain the next steps. “Liver cancer is rarely primary, so if this is cancer it must have come from somewhere else. We need to rule out all other areas it could be before I will be able to biopsy. Therefore, you will have a mammogram, colonoscopy, chest CT and MRI in order to make sure. Oh, and you need a different type of blood test. There is a clinic down the hall.”

After yet another drawing of my blood, the doctor’s admin books my first exam. Colonoscopy. I need a work up by my family doctor before my Monday procedure, so back to the office I went.

It is now closer to 5pm and I find myself back in the same chair I was in this morning. My doctor sounds shocked that he is sending me for a colonoscopy, since I had one when I was 17 and all they found was a fissure (tear or split in the lining of the anus). He then reassured me that this surgeon was an amazing doctor and he knows what he is doing. He let me know as well that my first blood results should be back on Friday, so he would call me then.

I explained later that evening to my mother and a friend about “the face”. They both thought I was crazy, but they didn’t see the eyes. It is like they all knew I had a death sentence, but no one was allowed to say it until they had proof. Well, even without words, I could feel it in their eyes.

 

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