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Friday, January 15, 2010

Tumors, Tooth, and Tragedy

The news program this morning featured stories about the children in Haiti.   It answered some of my questions about why so many people seemed to have burns on their faces and arms.   The earthquake hit while many people gathered together cooking and eating meals.  The stories are overwhelming, but the small miracles keep one watching and listening. 

There was also a recall announced for Tylenol which gave me some alarm.  Ever since Thanksgiving, I practically bathed in the extra-strength capsules, along with an anti-inflammatory.  I’ve been in a  toothache battle.  My dentist is not one that overreacts.  The X-rays didn’t show any reason for my pain and he hoped that the anti inflammatory would do the trick.  On Monday morning this week the dentist took a third X-ray that revealed something ominous.  My immediate referral to an Endodontist on Wednesday was a bust.  The tooth cannot be saved.  The Endo prescribed antibiotic for a raging infection and referral to an oral surgeon.   I am so disappointed.  I take exceptional care of my teeth.  This has been physically AND emotionally painful. 

While we were stressed by the surgery on our 8-year old grandsons eye tumor we had another dramatic event.

A little background:  I began taking Sherry, my 60 year old sister-in-law, to her regular medical appointments in December 2008.  At that time she complained of chest pains. I confirmed that she often gasped and grabbed at the ribs on her side.   Over the past year the DR X  has treated her for acid reflux, for pinched nerve, and even suggested she needed new bras.   I often pushed and quizzed the physician.  “Could it be her Alzheimer’s medications?”  “Could it be her head ache medication.”   I attempted to be an advocate.

In early December I arranged a special appointment, took Sherry to her doctor, and made an issue about the chest pain.  Upon my request, DR X looked at the records and admitted sherry had complained of chest pains since her first visit in September, 2007.   I was angry that 27 months of pain had gone unanswered.  (Remember, I was also fighting a toothache and probably very cranky.)  The doctor promised to set up an Endoscopy. 

Sherry called our house the following Saturday while I was in Oregon waiting for Jammin’s surgery.  She was in horrific pain.  WR took her to the immediate care center.  Within minutes of their arrival, Sherry was given a chest X-ray.  It revealed a “softball size” tumor in her chest. 
From that point, things went swiftly and extremely well. WR fired DR X and the other clinic.  Sherry received a CAT Scan on Tuesday, and a new physician.  The radiologist (who rides bike with my husband) pushed for quick response to the results. DR New recommended a cardio-thoracic surgeon in Portland and the consultation was Christmas Eve morning.  On January 8, the surgeon removed a tumor “the size and consistency of a cantaloupe” from her chest and predicted a long and difficult recovery.  Within 24 hours, Sherry was sitting in her bed eating a bowl of soft fruit.  The doctor and nurses could not explain her miraculous recovery.  We expected her to be in the hospital up to 14 days.  Day five she was home!  (I drove to Portland and back to retrieve her on Tuesday.)  She is not taking any pain medication other than ibuprofen. 

We decided that the benign tumor was so large it could have been a baby.  With respect to the “cantaloupe” quote from the Surgeon, we named it her “Melancholy Baby.”  Sherry still has a great sense of humor in spite of her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

In the meantime, we had to break the news to Great Auntie Fern that her younger son had passed away.  She took it with the strength and courage that we have come to expect. You must have an iron will in order to live to 101.

It is 60 degrees here with a wind blowing and howling like a banshee.  It sounded like someone was trying to get in the front door, which sent the cat running for the bedroom. (That is also her response when someone rings the doorbell.)  I think I’ll take her cue and go hide under the bed. 
Later…

21 comments:

Jenni said...

Such a mixture of heartache and miracles in this post, Pamela! I'm sorry to hear about your tooth and Fern's son and of course Haiti, but so glad to hear the good news of Sherry's and Jammin's recoveries.

Coffeypot said...

Sorry about your toofie, but what I get out of this post is how loving and compassionate you are. Hell of a woman, Pam.

Lil Mouse said...

Good for you for being an advocate. It is SO HARD these days to get a doctor to listen or take a second look. They are into taking the easy way out, and that is very irksome. Or maybe I'm still just pissed I no longer have a belly button.

grammy said...

First of all... lets forget the whole thing about a link you sent me...I am going somewhat crazy (o: so who knows ????
2nd.. can you imagine a baby in your chest...it is bad enough when it is pushing on your bladder. So glad she is doing good.
So glad Jammin seems to be doing good.
So sorry about the tooth ordeal. I have always had bad teeth and the tooth ache that can send you to your bedroom with your head under your pillow to cry...not good. Get that taken care of fast.
I take one Tylenol PM every night. I never listen to news so have not heard of recalls.
Take care. Rest up so you can heal from the tooth and all the stress. (o:

Kim said...

That's a hell of a string of events, Pamela. I think you're due some peace and quiet for a while.

Kila said...

Argh about Sherry! Can't imagine that happening to a man. So glad she is finally better.

My condolences to Great Auntie Fern. My grandparents have said that one of the worst things about growing old is losing family members and friends.

Don't beat yourself up about your tooth. Things like that happen even with the best of care. Glad the problem/pain can be "fixed" with surgery.

(((Hugs)))

Sandy said...

I agree with Coffeypot...and I think you should go hide with the kitty.

Hugs and prayers.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Pamela, It sounds like you have been through an emotional wringer! What a bunch of events..Poor Great Aunt Fern..I am so sorry for her. I do hope you get your tooth taken care of..Toothaches always make me cranky too.. But it is good news about Jammin and I sure hope it continues to be good news for them too! :)

DesLily said...

how incredible! And the fast recovery! Considering how long she suffered, she more then deserved this!

hope your toof issue gets better.

Pat said...

Wow, I have not words, Pamela!

kailani said...

Your grandson has an eye tumor? Oh no! I guess I missed the post on it. I'm so sorry!

Peter said...

Sure is a mixture of good and bad there Pamela, hope the good gets better and the bad goes away.

foam said...

could this not just be proof again that chest pains in women are not taken as seriously as chest pains in men?
i'm so glad to know that sil is feeling much better.
but i do so hate to know that she has alzheimers.
i hate that disease.

tlawwife said...

I hope Dr. X is appropriately embarrassed and listens better next time. I'm sure she felt so much better that the recovery was a piece of cake compared to the tumor.

Mercy's Maid said...

Goodness gracious! Your family has really been through a lot lately. I cannot imagine someone having a tumor that large and nobody catching it for so long!

lisaschaos said...

When it rains it pours. Sounds like you've had mostly good news. Unbelievable about your aunt's tumor - so GLAD it was benign!

lisaschaos said...

oops - SIL, not aunt! SOrry.

dawn said...

I would want to hide too. You sure have had a lot of stuff going on around you. Take care.

Susie Q said...

Bless her heart and so glad she is feeling better...and bless your heart for acting as her strong advocate.
The worry about your grandson...I know a bit about such worry and it is awful. And poor Aunt Fern...love to her as well as to you and all your family.
SO sorry about your tooth...I fully unserstand how upset you must be by this. But it is not your fault...it just happens...*sigh*
You have had so much of late...I wouold be hiding under a rock but not you. You are such an amazing woman Pamela...dang. You are something else!
Love,
Sue

Wendster said...

OK. I just read all of the comments and NONE of them are saying what I am thinking: I blame Sherry's doctor X AND I BLAME YOUR DENTIST! Dang him! Pain isn't there for NO REASON. SOOOMMMMETHING IS CAUSING IT! You consistently advocated for yourself. If the infection had been caught earlier, I'm thinking the tooth could have been saved. And I'm with you. I hate when bad things happen to my teeth. I LOVE my teeth.
As for the other things. O... M... G... ! ! ! a CANTELOUPE!?!??! The size of a CANTELOUPE!??!?!? GEeEsShHhHhH!!! Holy cow already. Find the stupid problem and HANDLE IT. Hello. Glad the family finally fired Dr. X and hired Dr. New. So so soooo glad that Sherry is recovering nicely. She must be feeling so much relief JUST TO KNOW THAT THE SOURCE WAS LOCATED and that someone finally GOT why she was in so much pain.

OK. This post just ticked me off. I hate when challenging things happen to my friend Pamela. Makes me mad.

I hope that things improve speedily, especially for your 8 yr old grandson with the eye tumor. I knew a family whose little girl had an eye tumor ... my fear was always that it would take her life ... creep into her brain or something (I'm a day brightener, aren't I?) but the happy news is although the vision in that eye was lost, she has lived a long healthy life since then. No other complications of the tumor. Some doctors are good.

OK. What can I do here? Besides whine?
HHHUUUGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll bring blankets and cocoa. We'll go lay under the bed together.

I love you Pamela. xoxoxox

Amanda said...

And Sherry wanted to watch "Who wants to be a fibroid!"