Let’s call this the prequel …..
Right before Christmas Paul came down with flu-like symptoms…..not uncommon that time of year ….. but it kept hanging around and eventually turned into a long bout of diarrhea and developing itching with no rash and a strange bout of burping…..and I am talking WAY MORE than normal husband burping if you know what I mean ladies….. We went to a family friend who is a physician and he ran some blood tests to rule out hepatitis. Results came back negative and his symptoms started to subside……
New Years Eve, while playing a gig at a restaurant (Paul is a musician) he turned yellow. It was shocking to see how quick and how jaundiced he got. But again, the symptoms started to subside. He had an appointment with his doctor at the VA (we have no health insurance either….of course….sigh) on Jan 18th and they would do another blood screen and we would see what was up then…..
His symptoms would come and go…like CLOCKWORK…..for the next several weeks. He would feel pretty good Monday and Tuesday then by Wednesday he would start getting a funny taste in his mouth and the itching would start again along with tummy troubles and occasional jaundice. He was also breaking out with fevers sporadically of up to 102. but it would only last a couple of days and he would be exhausted the rest of the week and it just kept going around like that……it never got bad enough to go to the ER.
We met with the VA doc on the 18th of Jan for another round of blood work and to talk about getting a sonogram at the recommendation of our family friend. VA doc recommends not a sonogram since we already know there is a problem. He recommends a CT Scan so we can see what the actual problem is. While we were there Paul says “Hey doc, I originally set this appointment to talk to you about this littler hernia I have…..” showing him his outtie…..the Dr. says we will take care of that later…..”that won’t kill you.”…….
2 Weeks (Feb 7th) later we drive to Harlingen to the VA clinic for the CT scan. We were done and back home by 3…..they were calling us at 8am the next day……you know what they say…”bad news travels fast”……but it wasn’t bad news! It was just a gall stone! Now it was inflamed so we needed to find someone right away to have it removed. In fact, normally they would send us to Audie Murphy Hospital in San Antonio but they are giving him a voucher to have it done locally! Awesome right?
….not so much……
We start by calling a doctor Paul had seen about 10 years ago….he also happens to be the one our family friend recomended…..bad news….they don’t take VA cases……well…..ok…….NEXT…..
So I start calling…….and calling…….and calling…….
“Let me call you back”
“No I’m sorry. We don’t take VA”
“No I am sorry. Honestly, their paperwork is a nightmare and getting paid is even worse”
“We stopped when they didn’t pay on the last few procedures”
This is all I hear over the course of 2 or 3 days. We kept getting a lead then hit a dead end…..we found a place to see him…in MAY……so needless to say, I was FREAKING OUT! We finally found a place in Victoria that helped us.
We met with the Gastro Doc in Victoria for a consult and he explained all the possibilities. He may be able to pluck the stone out or blast it with a LASER (“Is that a laser?!). If he can’t get it out he will insert a plastic tube to bypass the gall bladder and the liver can pump bile directly into the small intestine. That way Paul will get some relief, we can schedule with a surgeon to have the stone removed surgically with possible remove of the gall bladder as well. See, he wasn’t a surgeon….just a stone plucker…..
so it was going to be “in and out…no one gets hurt”…….but it wasn’t.
I was prepared for up to a two-hour wait and they took all except about 15 minutes of it. As soon as Gastro Doc came back to get me I knew something was wrong. He wanted me to come back to the recovery room so he could talk to us together. There was no gall stone….it is a mass…..it looks like cancer……samples are going to the lab.
*Side Note- The liver produces the bile you need to digest things like carbs and fats. When it manufactures it, it stores it in the gall bladder for later use. When you eat, the gall bladder drips bile into your small intestine thru a duct. The duct and the small intestine connect by the Ampulla of Vader (a nipple like thing that controls the bile drip) That is where the mass is located and blocking the bile drip. Bile was backing up into his liver causing the jaundice, the itching and the other host of symptoms.
That was last week……”no results yet”…….”they will be ready Friday”….”no, sorry…not until Monday”……Monday came and started to go and at 3 pm we received the definitive news that my husband has cancer. It is NOT liver cancer. It is NOT Pancreatic Cancer. but it IS aggressive and it needs to be cut out……soon……
This blog is our Journey Forward……