Monday, September 7, 2009

Bad backs, pain mangaement and radiology

About midway through our Scotland trip, Janice started to feel sharp pain in her lower back. She remembered standing up suddenly while we were visiting Eilean Donan Castle at the Kyle of Lochalsh and feeling like she had pulled a back muscle. We decided to take an extra day off the road and stay put in our inn, using a heating pad and taking her prescription vicadin that we had brought along for pain.

One day turned to three, and I started to get very worried that instead of her back pain getting slowly better, it seemed to be getting slowly worse. I found a local hospital and took her to see a Scottish doctor, who prescribed her stronger pain medication. We managed to soldier through the rest of the trip, but it was a long and uncomfortable flight for her coming home.

Back in the US, her regular doctors got her on to stronger pain relief, but nothing was really eliminating the pain. She was scheduled to go in for an MRI on a Monday to see what was really going on, but that weekend I asked my aunt Chris, who is a nurse, to come and see Janice. She could see that Janice was getting dangerously dehydrated, and we decided to take her to emergency at St. Joseph's Hospital. She ended up spending five days in the hospital on various IV drips, with a pain management team working very diligently to balance her pain medication with her other basic body needs, like water, bowel regularity and not being completely doped up out of her mind. They also did the MRI and discovered that the source of her back pain was indeed the cancer. It has moved into her spine, and the bone loss was pinching her nerves. We began radiation therapy right away, as her ability to walk was being threatened.

The doctors were amazing. They got her stabilized, and she is not experiencing any pain currently. She is lucid, her bodily functions are under control, and the radiation therapy in her spine has resulted in her having flexibility that we never thought she would have again. She was released on August 20th, and we never dreamed that she would be returning on August 29th, this time because the cancer had moved into her lungs.

Liver cancer never really rests. It just lies in wait and when you let your guard slightly down, it attacks somewhere else. It's a really shitty disease.


  1. janice i hope today is a Wonderful day for you

  2. Sending out love your way.
    Raquel and Angie. (Joe's daughters)