February 01, 2013

Seriously Freaking Out

I know I haven't been around much and have lots of catching up to do in terms of commenting. I was planning to do that next week because R and I are taking the week off to stay home and get things done around the house. (I have been reading, just not commenting very frequently.)

So I apologize for not commenting much, and for posting again before catching up on the commenting. But I'm freaking out.

I didn't 'fess up to this in my last post, but I've been dealing with anxiety lately, and this week it seems to be getting the better of me. It's not entirely unfounded, but I go automatically to worst case scenarios.

In the beginning of December, I started having some mild lower back pain on the right side. It didn't go away after a couple of weeks, so I went to the doctor. By that time, I was also having some very mild right hip pains and pressure. The doctor diagnosed a pulled muscle in my lower back and recommended ice and ibuprofen as needed. (I should point out that I carry Miss A on my left hip, not my right one.)

Well, the back pain has eased up, though I still feel it sometimes, but the hip thing is getting worse. The pain isn't really getting worse, but the pressure is. Occasionally I feel mild pain in various places on my hip, and sometimes I'll have shooting pain down the back of my leg. Usually it only goes to my knees, but occasionally my toes tingle too. But overall, the pain is very mild.

What does seem to be progressing is the pressure. It's kind of hard to describe, but basically just to the right of my c-section scar, at the edge of the pelvic area where it meets the groin area, I feel pressure. At first it was just when I was sitting, and if I would scoot forward to the edge of my seat so that my leg could be straight as it reached the ground, that would reduce it. Now I can feel it when I stand as well - it just feels like some sort of mild pressure, like something is pressing slightly on the area.

I went back to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and he sent me to physical therapy, but that hasn't helped it. I went back again yesterday, and this time he pressed all over the area and he didn't feel any lumps or bumps. (Neither do I, and I've pressed it a lot.)

I do have some swelling I guess you could call it immediately above the right 1/3 of my c-section scar. That's the side the doctor ended on when she was stitching. It's not a lump there either, it just looks like I have a little bit more fat protruding on that side, but the area wasn't like that (lopsided with more fat on one side than the other) before my pregnancy. The edge of my pelvic area where it meets the groin crease also seems to be just the slight bit swollen. There's no redness or anything like that, and it doesn't feel like anything is protruding that can be pushed back in, like a hernia. Also, those protruding/slightly swollen areas are soft - I don't feel any hard pieces of tissue in there.

The doctor said he thought maybe it was scar tissue pulling. He ordered a hip x-ray and pelvic ultrasound as the next step, but he doesn't seem to be overly concerned. However, later that day, it started to feel like my intestines are pushing up under my ribs and I was feeling shortness of breath, and last night I was standing in front of the mirror examining the area above my belly button because it seemed to me like that area looked slightly distended. I was worried that fluid was building up in that area (ascites - caused by one of the very bad things I'm freaking out about). But I also realize that anxiety can do surprising things to the body. So I know that it's just as likely that those things and my decrease in appetite and frequent trips to the bathroom are from nerves rather than something ominous.

I know there are a lot of different possibilities, most of which are totally benign things. Yet of course my mind goes right to the worst case scenario. Part of the reason is that I did IVIg during pregnancy to reduce my NK cells and cytokines, which are also some of the kinds of cells that help fight off really bad things. I know that doctors give IVIg to cancer (okay, there, I finally said the word) patients, and I never really asked my RI about how all of that works. But in doing some reading since then, from what I have found, IVIg is given to cancer patients after they're deemed free of cancer, oftentimes in order to prevent their immune system from rejecting something like a stem cell transplant. So I don't think IVIg causes cancer per se, but now I'm wondering if taking it could allow something like that to grow more easily if it is there.

So, there it is - my craziness out in the open.

I scheduled the pelvic ultrasound for tomorrow, but they don't do x-rays on the weekend, so I will get that done later this afternoon or on Monday. I doubt my doctor will have the ultrasound results back and reviewed by Monday.

On Tuesday, I have an appointment with a gynecological oncologist, which ironically I had made several weeks ago before all of this started to unfold. She was on TV talking about prevention and early detection of ovarian cancer, and since I'm at a higher risk (due to the PCOS, being overweight, having Miss A after I was 30, plus the fact that my ovaries have been poked literally more than 100 times probably doesn't help either), I had wanted to talk with her about it. Her office requested my records from Denver and the ob, reviewed them, and decided that it was appropriate for me to see her, so I feel like that at least affirms that I am appropriate in thinking that I may need to be more aware and proactive about this than the average person.

(I do realize that "aware and proactive" is very different from "completely freaking out", I just haven't figured out how to stay in that first category.) I had brought up my desire to be proactive in that respect to my ob a few years ago, who promptly blew me off by saying "Do you know how rare that is? I've had maybe 3 patients in my whole career who have been diagnosed with it." And yes, I know that it's not nearly as common as breast cancer, but I think it's something that occurs more frequently than could be called "rare".

I also called and scheduled an appointment with my therapist, who I haven't seen since October since I was doing really well. We usually meet for an hour, but I scheduled an hour and a half. Maybe I should have asked if she had the entire afternoon available...

I need to figure out how to get these runaway thoughts under control. I don't want to pass along this kind of anxiety to Miss A, and I know being around it can rub off, because I think that's how I got it.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I follow your blog and today's post sounded familiar to my situation. I hope you are able to get the right diagnosis for the pain/pressure you are feeling. In my case I was suffering from lower back pain and had a feeling of pain/pressure my right ovary/groin area, with pain/tingling down my leg. This scared me because at the back of my mind, I couldnt help having thoughts of ovarian cancer being the silent killer, etc. I went to see my doctor who recommended a lower lumbar and pelvic MRIs to see what was going on. Turns out the results showed a disc bulge and dic degeneration at two points in my lower spine. I have since been able to get some relief from a physio therapist. Physiotherapy prior to the diagnosis didn't help because without the diagnosis, the therapist was not able to give me the correct excercises to help me. Turns out the correct excercises for my disc bulge worsened the disc degeneration. Now with the correct diagnosis they were able to start me on a better plan and this has helped me greatly. I hope you feel better and know that there may be other reasons for the pain/pressure other than jumping to the big "C" conclusion.

Melissa N. said...

I had something awhile back that sounds a bit similar. I had pressure on the right side, was urinating all the time, and had pain radiating down my right leg. Then it switched sides for a day, then came back to my right side. It felt icy cold at times, but hot at others. Turns out my right hip was out of alignment and pressing against my sciatic nerve. As soon as I was adjusted by my chiropractor, my symptoms disappeared. I thought I had ovarian cancer because I "fit the bill.". I have PCOS, have only been pregnant once (which resulted in a miscarriage), had the pain, had the increased urination. I was convinced. Thankfully, my hip was the issue and I'm ok. Long story short, have you seen a chiropractor? Some people don't believe in what they do but I swear by it. Might be something to consider... Hoping all is well, hang in there :)

Rebecca said...

Thank you both. It really helps to hear stories of others who have had similar symptoms.

Anonymous - I'm glad you were able to get a correct diagnosis. It is reassuring to hear you did not have a scary diagnosis. When I went to my doctor 2 weeks ago, he said if PT didn't work, then the next step would be a lumbar MRI. But I think since I was reporting that pelvic pressure issue as the most predominant symptom yesterday, he switched courses. I imagine if the x-ray and ultrasound don't show anything, an MRI will be the next step.

Melissa - I am sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is to go through that. I'm also glad your diagnosis turned out not to be anything scary. I thought that some of my pain sounded like sciatica, but both my doctor and the PT did the leg raise test, and it didn't cause the pain. I don't always have that particular kind of shooting pain - it comes and goes, many days I don't have it at all. I have not been to a chiropractor, but my PCP is a DO rather than an MD. He did do a manual manipulation of a spot on my upper back that was bugging me, and it helped for that. When he was unavailable, another DO did a more thorough manipulation (30 minute appointment). It didn't seem to make a difference, but I may consider trying a chiropractor if tests don't turn anything up and I'm still having symptoms.

MyTwoLines said...

Could you have some sort of a hernia? I had a pressure/protrusion like that and at first the doctor couldn't believe it was a hernia (because it was inguinal and those usually happen to dudes) but lo and behold it was, and it was quite large. It literally is the intestine pushing through the abdominal wall and if you strain a lot (lifting heavy objects?) that can cause it, especially if there was already a weakening in the abdominal wall.

Good luck, I hope you figure it out soon, I know it's scary to have symptoms...

AP said...

I was also going to mention the same things as the other posters, but also wanted to add that I think that it is pretty common for serious anxiety to rear its ugly head after having a baby (and without meaning to dismiss others, I think this is especially true if you've had to "work" at having your baby). I've always toed close to the anxiety line, but definitely crossed it after my daughter was born. Checking back in with your therapist is an excellent idea, though so is being proactive about your health. Best of luck!!