Word of the day: Ouch.
Nov 25, 2015 | Cancer | By Shawn Parker
Apologies up front, this is a long update.
I was recovering well from the RPLND. I was back to putting in time at work, albeit from home, but I was starting to feel better and be able to concentrate on something else to take my mind off of the recovery.
That ended last Thursday (Nov. 19) when uncontrollable pain sent me to the ER. The ER tech tries twice to give me an IV line before relinquishing the task to his buddy. The IV that “worked” hurts. Some morphine and a CT scan later I was feeling better and being told about fluid build up in my surgery sites along the front of my stomach and in my back. The fluid build up in my back, in the Retroperitoneal area where they removed my tumors, where the ones causing pain as they pushed on blood vessels, nerve centers, and my surgical site. I was told that this was called a Seroma and that it would get re-absorbed by the body.
I was sent home and told to control the pain with medication. This is where I just lost about 5 days of my life. I spent the following days in bed. Getting up to pee and take more drugs. All the while trying to keep the wife from worrying that I was gonna over medicate and cause damage. I was more concerned with addiction than anything else. Its a damn nice feeling to take 2 Percocet and lie down…
On Monday I went in for a follow up scan to see how everything was doing. By this time I was experiencing less pain and was back to managing it with just Tylenol. Though not much as the thought of taking more pills right now, now matter what they are, is a little nauseating.
The whole day was a bit of a comedy of errors. First off my surgeon wanted the scan done on Monday but I couldn’t get an appointment anywhere to do it on Monday, so I had to walk-in and hope they could get me in. So the wife and I camped out in the San Leandro radiology department early Monday morning. I fell asleep on the bench until someone came out and handed me a 1000ML bottle of water and told me to drink it all.
About an hour later someone calls me in to the back. I go sloshing back, get changed in to the always popular hospital gown and they give me an IV. Now, my arms are pretty torn up at this point and my normally good veins aren’t presenting any good targets for an IV. The tech struggles a little but gets a line in.
A bit later they finally get me in to the scanning room. I don’t know how long I waited. I might have dozed off. I am REALLY tired. We get the first part of the scan done, the part that doesn’t require giving me the injected contrast fluid. I would have dozed off if there wasn’t a voice telling me to hold my breath once in a while.
We then move on to hooking up my IV and starting the fluid. It felt weird and the tech immediately came running in to the room and stopped the IV. Apparently my IV blew out and they injected about 15CC of the fluid directly under my skin. My left bicep was bulging. I guess protocol in this situation is to call a doctor and log the incident, so I was looked over by a very overly caffeinated doctor who drew all over my arm and ordered the tech around a lot. She deemed me to be OK, told me that my body would absorb the fluid in time and to drink lots of water.
That concluded a new IV was started in my other arm, the arm previously bruised up by the ER nurse a week earlier. The nurse struggles to find a vein but does get one on her first try, though she says that she’s not getting good flow. She goes with it anyway. She’s a bit paranoid from the earlier incident so she stays close and starts the injection of fluid. As she’s fiddling with the machine I feel a warm sensation on my arm. The IV is leaking bloody fluid. The nurse stops the injection, cleans up a bit, but continues with the injection at a lower flow rate. Not wanting to stop she says that this is OK and that she’ll just go slower. I know I’m getting the contrast as I can feel the familiar warming sensation in my butt, like I just shat my pants.
With the injection done we continue with the scan. I just so badly want to go to sleep, but again that voice telling me hold my breath keeps me from my slumber. The nurse comes back in and removes my IV. Since she went in close to the bruises on my arm from the ER there was no way to do it without hurting. And hurt it did. We finally get that done and I stand up to see the table and pillow I was on covered in my blood and the contrast fluid that leaked out.
From there I grab my things, change back to my normal clothes, and go home. The ride home couldn’t have gone any slower, I don’t think… I just wanted to be in bed, curled up with my heating pad and pillow.
Later that day my surgeon follows up and tells me the same thing as the ER doc. Fluid build up, but he calls them Lymphoceles (which seems like its just a more condition specific way of talking about a Seroma). While the fluid in my stomach has subsided some, the fluid in my back hasn’t changed. My surgeon admitted that he’s not sure about how much fluid generally builds up after a surgery as they typically don’t image patients this soon after surgery. Its typically 3-5 weeks out that new scans are done. So we’re kind of sitting in the dark as to wether I’m typical and unlucky, to atypical and still unlucky.
So as we go in to the Thanksgiving holiday I’m still in a bit of pain, but can walk around and take care of myself again. I hope that I feel good enough to go to dinner tomorrow night. At the very least I have my appetite back and look forward to having a normal poop again.
Tagged as: ct, er, fluid, iv, lymphocele, scan, seroma