My last post (and the delay since I wrote it) emerged from worry and fear—which was perfectly reasonable, but has abated today. I'll explain.
A couple of weeks ago, while my wife Air and I were at Gnomedex in Seattle, I took a break from my current cancer medication for a couple of days to avoid nasty intestinal side effects during the conference. That's nothing unusual: I do the same every month at some point. But this time, as my digestive system slowed down, I got some strange pains in the middle of my back during the night. They kept me awake until I discovered that sitting up in bed reduced them, and I could sleep. They disappeared once I resumed the pills (and the poopfests that result).
But the pains came back, more frequently, sometimes waking me up in the night, or keeping me from getting to sleep. Eventually they appeared during the day. The feeling, sharp and deep, reminded me of the bowel blockage I had last year, which landed me in hospital for a few days—only (luckily) about 10% as painful this time. But nothing was blocked, believe me. And that lack of blockage provided regular relief, as the pains moved around and then went away, to come back another time.
Having pain that came and went, but always started just below where I know there are tumours growing (slowly) in my lungs was—needless to say—disconcerting. Fearsome. Perhaps even terrifying. So I was nervous when I visited the B.C. Cancer Agency today for my regular monthly checkup.
But two doctors and a nurse all think, given my long-winded explanation of what was going on and how the pain behaved, that it's a fairly simple digestive problem, likely treatable with something as simple as Maalox Plus and, at most, some Tylenol with codeine. My intestines have certainly been through the wringer over the past couple of years, and there could be adhesions or scar tissue in there—or they could simply be misbehaving because of what the cediranib I'm taking now inflicts on them.
Anyway, there's no reason to think it's the cancer getting substantially bigger. My kidneys aren't failing. There's no blood clot or heart attack going on. So now, while I'm uncomfortable some of the time, the pain is no longer terrifying. Behold the power of comforting words.