Pancreas Revisited

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By Linda Nidiffer

Tom and I were fools. He was the fool in the land of Denial and I was the fool in the land of Naiveté.  He visited his land longer that I did. When I returned from my trip I came back to the land Skeptical which surrounds the lands of Cynical and Angry.  Our trips ended last week in the emergency room—again.

For the last month Tom’s appetite has been gone.  In all of our years together, Tom has loved every aspect of food. He not only likes eating it but he likes to cook it, talk about it, shop for it, criticize it, try new restaurants for it and go out of town for it. The pursuit of food is a sport for Tom.  He can give you a restaurant recommendation for every town we have ever visited and also warn you against them as well. So when I tell you his appetite is gone that is an alarming symptom.  But wait!  There is more. His stomach shrunk so much that he had no “room” for liquids either.  So not only was I watching him starve but I was watching him dehydrate rapidly.

I reported his symptoms to all of his doctors.  We knew he had a pancreatic cyst. The original CAT scan was for June 24 at the hospital.  I threw a fit—just a little one.  I knew that we could get one quicker and speed up the process and I did after I had been marginalized at the Dr.’s office twice. That didn’t matter. Tom’s health mattered more.  Then he couldn’t get in to see the doctor for the follow up visit until July!  I asked for a new provider.  Got one, but it was a stranger.  Five days later we were in the ER again for round three.

Round three triggered another follow visit with family medicine.  By this time Tom has lost over 30 pounds and his skin has turned yellow. He now looks 5 months pregnant which means that the cyst has really grown in the last week or two. We see a new doctor in family medicine.  She is more interested in putting her nose in her computer screen that examining Tom. I can’t stand it another minute so I say to her, “Don’t you think his skin and eyes look yellow?”  She did a blood draw and called us back at 7:30 p.m. “Get to the ER now!”  We spent a day and a half in the ER waiting for the Gastro team to drain/remove the cyst.  Three and a half liters (almost a gallon) of fluid later Tom was back in the ER holding pen.  The cyst was so large that it was smashing his stomach, esophagus, liver and the doctors will be looking around in there next week to see what else was affected.  Why didn’t they listen to me when I was shrieking that my husband was in big trouble?  Who is the idiot here?

As I was driving up Sweetwater to get to the hospital on day 4 I ran into construction just like everyone has in recent weeks.  As I stopped so did my car and my car wouldn’t go again!  Okay, so what is one more calamity?  I immediately called Jody Robinson at his place in Trenton and begged for help.  “We will be right there!”  And he was.  Grady from Reeves Construction was worried about my safety because I my car had quit very near a curve and came to help direct traffic for a while.  A few strangers stopped to see if I was alright, and I lied and said yes. There are some heroes in my story this week. If Tom has to go to the ER again I am going to the psych ward for a 72 hour evaluation—at least I will get some rest there.