Tag Archives: hernia

Playing the symptoms game

Today is Mom’s 77th birthday. With all we’ve been through as a little family over the last several years, I now make it a point to visit her in person on each birthday. It sounds morbid but really, for any of us, we don’t know if this birthday will be the last.

Things have been going along pretty well over the last year, in regards to Mom’s health. Her colonoscopy at the end of 2013 brought good results — a couple of polyps removed, nothing otherwise suspicious spotted.

In March, her CEA level was up just the slightest bit. But with no other symptoms, the oncologist saw no reason for concern, saying it it continued to rise on the next visit in July, then he would order a scan.


Over the last couple of months, Mom’s had some issues with her GI system which had returned to a remarkable functioning state after her two surgeries in 2012. Most concerning is the tightness she feels in her abdominal area. She’s also had some dizzy spells and tends to get tired quicker. Her appetite is not quite as strong as it was either.

So I’ve been playing the symptoms game since that time, Googling her symptoms and various combinations of her symptoms. Her symptoms are similar to both the first time she got sick (colon cancer) and the second time (hernia). Obviously, we’d all take another hernia over another bout of cancer, but the symptoms game is long and drawn out.

It can throw you a loop and be something completely unexpected.

Her stomach looks a bit distended when she’s sitting or standing but not anywhere near the level it was when she was sick. I felt her stomach when she was stretched out on the bed and thankfully it felt pretty soft to me, so I don’t think she has another colon obstruction. Yet.

Her oncologist appointment is this Wednesday. Unless he can obviously feel a hernia, Mom will probably have to go for some sort of scan and then more waiting around for the results. So the symptoms game keeps going on …

I hate playing the symptoms game, but I hate even more when the symptoms game ends.

Then you are faced with the diagnosis.

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Living with lurking symptoms

Many of my posts lately on this blog have been about the similarities and differences between my parents’ healthcare experiences. Today, I’m noticing a similarity of sorts. Despite my dad suffering from a mental disease and my mom suffering from cancer, there’s the same black cloud when it comes to the appearance of dreaded symptoms.

Before Dad moved to the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, he would have good days and bad days. Sometimes, my mom would even tell me that it was a good week, or at least an uneventful one.

And that’s when you strive for when you are ill. Let’s keep things as boring as possible, right? Now Mom has a hernia and we have been told by the doctor that it could slip in and out at will, and Mom has no control over it. If it slips into the wrong place, it can make Mom sick and cause her severe pain.

So just like with Dad, there’s a black cloud hanging over the house, and I walk on eggshells, hoping and praying the hernia doesn’t act up so that Mom can avoid emergency surgery. With Dad, it was his mind that was totally unpredictable. The symptoms of ill health can rear their ugly head at any moment, and that’s a special kind of torture all of its own.

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