Saturday, April 10, 2010

Armpit Cancer Update

Isn't it funny how I say I'm taking a break from blogging--and then DON'T? Had you noticed? Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on my armpit cancer saga. No, I don't REALLY have armpit cancer--at least, not that I know so far. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about and didn't read my earlier post, "I Think Zebras," then click on the title and read it first--it will make this post make more sense, I suspect.)

As I've mentioned in the last few posts, I've had a reoccurrence of the pain that I originally suspected was armpit cancer. You'll probably remember that a few weeks ago, my workers' comp doctor examined me and thought it was most likely a strained or pulled nerve due to the unreasonable exercise demands of my physical therapist. Remember that? Because I'm such a worrier, at the time I asked him if he was SURE it wasn't MRSA (a nasty form of staph infection) that had traveled up my arm and seeded in my armpit--that would have been as a result of the staph infection/sore on my arm I'd had treated back in January. (Yeah, I know he probably thinks I'm nuts.) He promptly reassured me that it was unlikely due to the location and nature of the pain, the ongoing nerve problems in my arm, and the fact that my armpit wasn't red and swollen (and I knew I didn't have a fever--another sign of infection).

Fast forward a couple weeks. The pain had been fading, but around about a week ago, it started coming back. I thought I'd stressed the nerve somehow getting ready to teach the wool class, and I was feeling awfully guilty, although I couldn't imagine WHAT I'd done that I shouldn't have. By Monday, the pain was worse and it felt a bit swollen. Day by day, it got worse and worse, and I kept replaying in my head the whole conversation with the doctor and weighing whether to remain calm, limit my activities, and wait it out, or start to panic again. By Wednesday night, the area looked a bit red. So now it was red AND swollen, something it wasn't when I saw the workers' comp doctor--although the pain felt the same and the location was about the same. So what to do? And--if I WAS going to see a doctor--should I see the workers' comp doc or my regular family practitioner?

Because I'd called in prescription refills to be picked up today at the pharmacy in the building where my family practitioner is located and had also arranged to meet a couple friends for lunch nearby, on a (rather painful) whim, I decided to see if my doctor might have an opening in his schedule this afternoon. As fate would have it, he DID! So, after lunch with my friends, I headed to his office and showed him my armpit tumor. It was hardly reassuring when he told me the first thing he wanted to do was call the surgeon to see if they wanted to do a needle biopsy or send me for a CT or what. So while he was in the exam room with me, my family practitioner called the surgeon, and the surgeon told him to send me right over and they'd stick a needle in it and see what happened. Yay! (Not! That's sarcasm. The last thing I wanted was someone to stick a BIG needle in a rather PAINFUL armpit tumor!)


The surgeon's office was in a larger medical center/hospital a few miles away, so I hopped into the car and drove over there. And what did he do? He stuck a couple smaller needles into my armpit to numb it up a bit and then he stuck the BIG needle in and drained out what seemed like all of my bodily fluids. Ick.

So what do you think? Cancer? I don't think so. Whatever it is will be cultured and he'll let me know. If it gets worse in the next several days, I get to go back and he'll have at it with his scalpel; if not, I'll keep on with the antibiotics. In the meantime, although it's not completely gone, a lot of the pain and pressure has subsided and I feel much better.

Needless to say, I'm awfully glad I finally decided to go to the doctor. As a layperson (albeit one who frequently diagnoses dire diseases in myself), it was hard to decide to seek further medical help after being reassured by a doctor that there's nothing to worry about and that it will just take time to heal. I don't mean to imply my workers' comp. doctor was incorrect or did anything wrong--after all, when he saw me, I didn't have the same signs and symptoms I did today. But I'm glad--sometimes!--that I worry as much as I do because THIS time it prompted me to follow up with another doctor who was able to get me the treatment I needed for this problem.

I won't be surprised to find out it is staph, but we'll see. In the meantime, I'll be taking the antibiotics, which are rather strong and may make me feel a bit icky. If I don't write, it's probably just because I'm resting up and healing and don't have much more to say. But you know me--I'll probably write anyway! Thanks for visiting!

19 comments:

Robin (rsislandcrafts) said...

Sorry to hear about your needle(s) adventure. I always believe you should listen to that nagging voice. Even if people think you may be over reacting, it's your body and it's OK to worry.

I'm actually going through the same thing right now myself. Last year I had a staph infection in my armpit that cleared up with lots of antibiotics. A couple weeks ago I found a small lump in my armpit. It was sore also. My first thought was a staph infection and then I went straight to cancer since my father had a tumor in his armpit that was cancer. I went to my family physician twice and he just dismissed me like it was no big deal. By that time it was the size of a softball and very painful. I went to my infection control doctor yesterday because it just didn't feel right. He feels that it is an infected sweat gland...probably. We'll see what it does in the next two weeks with the antibiotic he prescribed.

That was a nice long story lol. Just wanted to let you know that you aren't the only one who freaks out about things like this.

Kelly Ann said...

Why do doctors dismiss people like that...o'it's nothing...I'm going to the doctor on Tuesday for a thing on my leg that four doctors said were nothing but I'm pretty sure it is something so I won't stop until someone takes it off. get some rest...

Anonymous said...

Yup, it's your body for your whole life and if you don't take care of it, well...who will?? I've been blessed to have some very good doctors who are helping me through some ichy stuff but Monday I've got to make some phone calls so I do understand some of what you are dealing with. Keep a few needles threaded...no, don't sew yourself back together!! Just quilt something...it helps to keep busy! Zel

Diane H said...

You are the advocate for your own body, Kim - you go to as many doctors as you need to. It is your life NOT theirs. Be strong and press on. Keep us informed please,
we all care.

Shelley said...

Good Golly Miss Kim, you sure know how to pick them! I am so glad you chose to see the Doctor because if anything happened to YOU, where would I get my daily dose of tongue in cheek sarcasm!LOL Seriously, though, I will be praying it's nothing too serious and GET WELL!

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Oh my goodness Kim, I certainly hope they can find out what all the trouble is. And hopefully you will be back to feeling great very soon.

Jen in NY said...

In my untrained medical opinion, I wouldn't think cancer b/c it was drained...isn't cancer solid? Sounds like an infected cyst. That is my 2 cents!

Yup, gotta listen to that little voice inside. Good for you.

Nancy said...

Always listen to that little voice, even if it mumbles from your armpit...
The SON came to me a couple of weeks ago and said he had a bump on his ass. yea, whatever. I looked and there was a little red dot. I told him "probably a pimple and if you cut the grass that will help". He stayed with it and I finally took him to the dr. Dang it. He is scheduled for surgery to have a pilonidal cyst removal... stupid kid listened to his body not his mom... Now I will have to cut the grass and wait on him...sheesh that's gonna cut into my sewing-screwing around time.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Hang in there Kim. Only you know when something is not right with your body and don't quit until you have the right answers. I'm speaking from experience.

Cara said...

I hope it all turns out well and you start to feel better!!

Kim said...

I've ignored symptoms, figured "it" was nothing. After a bit of nudging by hubby I went to see my doctor and she discovered that I had a big old infection that had brewed up a storm ~ no small wonder I hurt and felt like poo...guess I should not self diagnose the need for medical attention. Me thinks it's best to go see the doctors like you do than to brush things off like I did. A girl just gets tired of the doctoring thing, ya know? You've had a long haul with this recovery thing. Feel better soon, Kim!

Brandie said...

You are so brave to watch them drain you of bodily fluids. I'm glad you went back to a different Dr. And we are all hoping that it was just a swollen duct or some such thing. Now that I've found you, you need to be healthy to entertain me on a daily bases. I've finally caught up with your current life and I don't think I can do with out your rant and raves. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

Anyone who hangs in quilting a quilt from design, then stitching beginning to end, already has life lessons in how to deal with painful lumps and bumps. Keep at it "one stitch at a time." Your blogs are missed day to day but we now have the feature of added suspense. Good luck with all this and we all lift one and say Good Job when you are back in the best of health.

Best Wishes,
Stephani

Micki said...

I am so glad that you decided to go to the dictor's! Get well soon!
Micki

julieQ said...

Cancer treatments...needle therapy? Seriously, I am glad you went and had it aspirated...probably is MRSA, that is so common in our world today. Hope all is well soon, dear KIm!

Gran said...

Holy Moly - I am so thankful that you went to the Dr. What a wonderful family doctor you have and that he has friends in high places that can see you just by a phone call from him. Sounds like a miracle to me. Sending my love from clear across the country.

PunkiePie said...

My goodness Kim! Feel better soon!!

Annette said...

I know I mentioned this before, but ask, PLEASE! for the Dr to test for cat scratch disease. Bartonella Henselae. It's a simple blood draw to confirm. My dd2 had the same thing, scratch, infection and it lodged in the nearest lymph nodes, infected them and, well, yuck. Two surgeries later it was all gone. could have been dealt with without surgery if they'd diagnosed sooner. don't want to go there.
Best to you!
Annette

Busy Little Quilter said...

Knock, Knock!!! Are you there????

It's been a while since I have been blogging around, so I thought I would see what you're up to. Much to my amazement, you're right where you were the last time I visited your blog!

I really wanted to come here and see all of the quilts you have been making and laugh a little, but I see you are still busy getting better.

Take care of yourself. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Hey, my word verification is pinit. That's funny!!! See? I knew I would get a laugh visiting your blog!