One Damn Thing After Another

Hopefully former Attorney General of the United States Bill Barr won’t sue me for stealing the title of his Trump “tell all” book for my blog post today, but it feels like a day for using a bit of salty language to describe the developing situation.


Three weeks ago, I started experiencing pain in my lower back. It seemed logical because we had just driven home from Hilton Head Island (about an 11-hour drive), so I initially chalked it up to lower back fatigue from making a long drive. The pain would ebb and flow from having bad pain for a day or maybe two, but then it would improve. So, each time, I felt like I might be turning the corner and didn’t pursue treatment.


Four days ago (June 2nd), the pain became unbearable and now included my right-side abdomen as well. I thought maybe things would improve again but I also knew that the pain level was so different that it warranted getting checked out. By last Friday morning (June 3rd), I couldn’t take the pain anymore so Diana took me to urgent care (by this time, I could not stand up, bend over, or breathe without a significant amount of pain).


After a fairly worthless urgent care visit, it was decided that maybe I had a kidney stone that was blocked from passing, despite the fact that I tested negative for any blood in my urine. Urgent care prescribed two ineffective drugs that we picked up at the pharmacy. I then came home and went to bed, hoping to find a position where I could get relatively comfortable (I couldn’t).


After talking to my medical oncologist, and my friend/oncologist/mentor Dr. Bill Barrett, we decided it was prudent to get a CT scan of my abdomen to see whether the kidney stone could be seen on imaging. A few small kidney stones were seen, but none were of a size that would explain the pain increase. However, what did show up was an enlarged lymph node that had increased in size by almost 50% since April 12th, and a cluster of newly enlarged lymph nodes.


The presumption now is that the lymph nodes, enlarged due to cancer, are pressing on my ureter, and mimicking the symptoms of a “stuck” kidney stone. Today I will go to a hurriedly arranged meeting with Dr. Barrett to plan for another course of radiation that should temporarily knock back the cancer and provide pain relief. Meanwhile, this all has the potential to complicate the timing of getting into the clinical trial at MD Anderson, which will likely be a much more effective long-term strategy than stopgap measures.


One damn thing after another but to end this on a positive note, THANK GOD for Oxycodone. Stealing a line from one of my favorite Robert Plant songs, I can breathe again! 😊


P.S. to Kevin Mooney – thanks for the pep talk this morning. Even I need one of those occasionally.


Until next time,


Steve