Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Shall Call Him Fred

About 11 years ago I had a pain in my shoulder. It started as just a small pain and moved into a holy crap what did I do to my shoulder pain. As is so often the case when you have something hurting your first instinct is to rub it and try to make it feel better. So rub away I did and much to my surprise while trying to rub my shoulder one day my hand grazed over a bump.

Of course at the age of eighteen the first thought to cross my mind was oh my god I have a tumor!!

"It's not a tumor!!"

Except of course, when it is. A non-cancerous bone tumor (osteochondroma) to be exact. Basically a mass of bone and tissue residing on my shoulder blade. (Scapula... this will be important in a minute... wait for it)

So, of course I rush my ass to a doctor who proceeds to tell me that it will not kill me, phew, but it will continue to cause me discomfort unless they remove it. By this point the pain in my shoulder had gotten worse and there were now random shooting pains going down my arm. So, surgery it was.

During Christmas break of my freshman year of collage I had surgery to remove the osteochondroma on my scapula. (See... told you... it makes it sound WAY cooler when I use it that way doesn't it?)

When the doctor came to see me after the surgery he broke the news to us about the placement of this particular tumor. See part of the tumor was sticking out where he could see it (and I could feel it) but part of it was under my shoulder blade. Taking the part out under my shoulder blade, because of the location, turned my surgery from a minor surgery into a major surgery. So he left that part in in the hopes that it would just sort of hang out there.

Unfortunately, my tumor had other plans. Like a starfish when you cut off one of its "arms", the tumor grew back bigger, badder and with avengence. I believe it was about two years later when I first noticed it sticking back out. At that point in time I went to a different doctor who gave me the same spiel about minor to major surgery, throwing in this additional gem:

There is a 10% chance of collapsing your lung if we take off the whole tumor.

Never mind. It's not bothering me that bad. We'll just leave it in place. I kind of like it. Maybe we shall name it Fred.

And so it stayed. For the last 9 years it has been there, just hanging out on my shoulder. Only causing me minor annoyances every once and awhile until about 2 months ago. That is the point at which Fred got REALLY angry. It started out subtly enough. My pinky finger and my ring finger would just randomly go to sleep. Annoying, yes. Life threatening, not really. I would just shake my hand and move on with my day.

Believing that I was not taking him seriously enough Fred ramped up the signals. August 23rd I woke up and it felt like someone had stuck a skewer through the front of my shoulder and it was coming right out the back. Add to that a shooting pain from my shoulder all the way up the back of my head and point taken... hello Fred.

So, I called around and found a new doctor. They couldn't get me in until October 21st which meant I just had to wait it out. The stabbing pain lasted about two weeks and if I move wrong the shooting pain up my head is still there. And as I type this, I am loosing a bit of feeling in my pinky. Feels kind of funny, like a parlor trick.

Anyhow, last week my appointment with the great doctor arrived. I was escorted to my room, xRays were taken and then the doctor came in. He did a brief overview and then invited me out to view my xRays.

That right there is your mass. (God I'm glad we pay him the big bucks!!)

(It's the size of an Easter egg in case your curious.)

And because of where it is located, I don't do that. And no one in my practice does that. So we will need to send you to a specialist in IA City.

All I can say is it's a good thing that I'd already had half of this thing removed once and I was pretty sure what it was. Because I can tell you right now that if I didn't know, I would have freaked out right then and there. He was throwing around terms like musculo-skeletal tumor in your chest cavity and abnormal x-Ray and he immediately ordered a CT scan to get a better look at size and consistency.

The next day, bright and early I had a CT scan to get some good pictures and then Monday I go back to this doctor again for a quick look at the CT. Then, it's off to IA City. At the end of the day the problem is not WHAT the tumor is, it is WHERE the tumor is. It is growing on the underside of my scapula into my chest as opposed to on the outside. So taking it off poses some concerns as far as... oh I don't know... leaving my lungs inflated.

So there you have it. I'm just one giant medical anomaly. Maybe they'll let me keep it in a jar when they take it off. Hey, I have to at least get something good out of this don't I??


Laura said...

Oh yikes, that's a bit scary eh? I hope you're able to somehow get this sorted out :(

Aunt Becky said...

Good LORD. Freak-a-licious. I'm sorry, love. I hope they give you the good drugs.