Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where there's smoke (or elevated liver enzymes) there's fire (or gallstones)

Yup, I have gallstones. Twins, and apparently they are somewhat on the large side. And I also probably have gallbladder disease. Could be worse, right? It could have been cancer. Of course, it could be better. It could have been nothing. But at least this a) explains much of the pain I've been experiencing for the last year and a half, and b) explains the liver enzyme elevation. It also comes with a simple cure - you just take the damn thing out. And by thing I mean the gallbladder. And therein lies the down side. It's looking like I will need surgery. Most likely it will be laparoscopic (I really hope my history of c-section doesn't complicate that), and then it only takes a few days to recover. It also means a day surgery situation, although I have to say that an excuse to get away from the house for a few days, have people waiting on me hand and foot, wouldn't have been the worst news ever....

I'm feeling OK about it. Probably because it really could have been worse. Honestly, it's not great news because I really don't need surgery right now, thanks. We kind of have our plates full at the moment, and I have a rapidly expanding baby to lug around, which won't be possible for a few days post-surgery.

But I'm probably not going to die, and that's a really big deal.

Speaking of baby, I promise I will post more pictures and write about her progress soon. In brief, she's humungous. Or maybe I should use the newly Webster-ized term, ginormous. How do you spell that, anyway? Anyway, the kid is big. She's chunkalicious.

Eliana loves pre-school and continues to be the world's best big sister.

I promise to write more later. Now it's off to bed for some Harry Potter before sleep overtakes me. Thanks to all of you who expressed your concern and sent me positive thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reflections on mortality

Tonight I'm using my blog to sort through some thoughts I've had regarding news I received from my doctor yesterday.

I went to her because I've had a lot of pain and tightness in various areas of my body, and I was growing a little concerned that there was more to it than lack of yoga. She agreed that my symptoms seemed a bit concerning, so I had some blood drawn and x-rays taken, and off I went. Two days later, I have a message on my cell phone:

"Hi Terri, this is Dr. Cuddihy calling to follow-up with the blood work and x-rays. Basically, the x-rays look good, no signs of inflammation or other problems that would explain the back pain, so I guess you should just keep stretching, doing yoga, and take it easy. There was, however, something that came up in your blood work that has me a little concerned...."

This is when you know something's about to come out of her mouth that you don't want to hear. Cancer? AIDS? Seriously, it seemed like 15 minutes passed between the first part of the sentence and the punch line. Turns out, my liver enzymes are high. Quite high, actually. One of the two types they measure, the AST level, is twice the upper limit for normal. If you look up ALT and AST levels, and peruse the list of possible causes for elevated liver enzymes , none of them are good. Well, except the possibility of medication or herbal supplements causing the elevation, but considering I'm not taking any meds or supplements, those aren't likely suspects.

So here I am, trying to stay calm while waiting for Monday to arrive, when they start what I'm guessing is going to be a lengthy battery of tests, ultrasounds, god only knows what else. Given my tendency toward hypochondriasis (which I believe I discussed in a previous post), staying calm takes considerable effort. Add to that the strong recommendation that I steer clear of alcohol until they know what's wrong (apparently, when your liver is sick you're not supposed to make it work extra hard, go figure), that means no red wine at the end of my day to help me relax. I guess I'll have to learn to relax the natural way, like that's the way our bodies were meant to do it.

I've always wondered what it would be like to get That Call from the doctor, the one that carries with it potentially disastrous, life-changing news. And while this wasn't really That Call, it certainly has potential, and it's certainly the closest i've come to receiving one. I know one thing - I'm not ready to die. I have two little girls and I ain't leaving them. And I guess I know a few other things, too: I'm not ready to be an invalid, I'm not interested in undergoing surgeries, chemo, bed rest, long hospital stays. And I know I'm scared. Really, freakin' scared.


I just did a few more internet searches and found that antibiotics can cause elevated liver enzymes. I just took a whole series of those for strep throat, so to keep myself sane until Monday, I have concluded that this whole thing is a simple after-effect of the antibiotics, plain and simple. No worries necessary. Now I can go to bed.