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"So tell me, grey seal, how does it feel"

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

(Elton John reference, for a friend)

I am not exactly sure what to say. Nearly a month since the dilation, which at the time and in the first week after seemed like a great thing, and now I am sort of worried about me.

I do not usually confess such things, but this is real life and it is early in the morning and I have been up all night talking to people about cancer and trees and roses and babies and food and music, and, well, I try to keep my worries to myself, or at least between myself and a few select others.

I generally feel like at this point in my journey it is my place, if I have one, to provide comfort and solace to others, if you will, to give Hope and Humor. I have known, I do know, others like me, who when they are in dire straits or think they might be, simply leave this site because they do not want to be bearers of bad news.

I have done that. As I said, I know lots of others who have done the same.

But it is not all good news, and we cannot pretend that it is, else everyone is walking around in clouds of happiness and hope right before mom bites the dust.

It doesn't always end happily.

So far, my story has been a rather remarkable and successful one. That is another reason, really, not to even talk about any side issues or minor issues: WHAT A WHINER!

But, as I have mentioned in the past, this is my story, and I will tell it my way, and right now, three, four weeks, after a dilation, I have had a stabbing pain in what I called my stomach, but what my wife the nurse calls my upper intestine, for roughly the number of days since the dilation, minus maybe four.

I am getting ahead of the story, such as it is, to tell you that I had no idea where my appendix was (it is on your right side, I have been told since), and so, with that stabbing pain on my lower left side, I considered that perhaps my appendix was about to explode. My true companion, that night, dissuaded me from that notion, and it is always nice to have one thing less to worry about, while at the same time giving me an anatomy lesson: my stomach was pretty much up where that tube used to be and where that little dimple now was; the area I was poking at was called an intestine, aka a colon.

To go back, following the dilation, all was good. I woke up, always a good thing, and even felt comfortable enough to want to go back to sleep, which they did not permit.

There was no pain in the throat to speak of, at least that I could remember (they DO give you some drugs, after all) and along the way home my wife bought me a milkshake and I think something else that was highly improbable but perhaps on her bucket list. I managed the milkshake with ease, and felt no pain. Again, there is nothing like a bit of morphine in the morning to brighten your day (or whatever they gave me, Demerol, I think).

They told my wife while I was still in Never-Never Land that they were quite pleased with the dilation, that they got another 12 mm (and I still don't know if that is diameter or circumfrance: I should ask although I still won't know the true significance), and that they were confident this would help a lot.

Scar tissue, they may have been talking. I don't know. I wasn't there.

Once at home and beyond the milkshake, perhaps a day later (Demerol lasts awhile), I made a pot of chicken noodle soup, the kind that comes out of the can. Prior to this dilation these two things, at least, were true: I could only eat a few noodles at a time, and I avoided even THOSE little bitty chicken bits for the most part for textural and swallow reasons.

On this day, however, and don't ask me why: I am likely to tell you the truth, that I am a dumbass who always pushes the limits, and that will sound funny to anyone who ever considered that eating chicken noodle soup could be pushing the limits. It's funny to me. But I was: I wrapped up such a large um, wrapping, of noodles on the fork that it would have been impossible two days earlier. And down it went. Easily. Chicken bits: down they went. Easily.

I was ecstatic! I ate the whole thing (I WAs starving, after all), despite the fact it is at least a two serving meal, maybe three. (Okay, men will laugh, again: any soup in a can is a one-man meal. Period.)

Eventually, all good things must come to an end. I do not even recall what else I might have eaten during this spree. I just know that at some point it felt like my stomach was going to explode. It was bloated, it was cramping, and eventually there was this aforementioned stabbing pain in the lower left of my upper extremities, what my wife refers to as my intestine.

The stabbing pain comes and goes, and seems to be assuaged by eating. Eating, on the other hand, seems to lead to this feeling of bloating (the cramping has disappeared completely, so I am not suffering from some menstrual problem, which is REALLY good for me!)

My wife seems not all that worried, although she is amping up GastroPod for a quicker date than the one he says he can make for me. So, there is some worry, I guess, on her part, if minimal.

I only worry when that stabbing pain starts again and I want to call all of my semi-colon friends and ask how they first knew they had some issues. I only start worrying when those stabbing pains start again and I think, how could I have avoided colonoscopy all these years only to get one now for no perfectly good reason?

You see, as I write this, I am feeling fine. Ate some mac and cheese (mustard really does enhance the power of the cheese). Drank some ginger ale. I am feeling fine.

The Good Wife suspects an ulcer, and I would not be surprised. Having seen the entrance of my esophagus in living color, having seen same for the other end of it, I would not be surprised if the beginning of my intestine is not also rather beaten by the abuse of a life lived hard and well. And, to be more honest with myself and you, I would not be surprised if the ulcer is not the real culprit, a product of these last several years of excitement and worry and, especially, odd eating arrangments.

NEVER, my friends, eat the whole pot of chicken noodle soup.

Posts: 1846
Joined: Aug 2010

Ulcer sounds likely, I agree, in that the pain goes away when you eat. Nice they can now find out with a sputum test, that is, if the cause is heliobacter pylori. A nice round of antibiotics for that type ulcer and maybe a look to see if everything is healing properly.

Chicken noodle soup can be as the nectar of the gods.

Please try not to worry, see your doctor as soon as you can, and as for a whole pot of chicken noodle soup: try to break it into two meals :)

ratface's picture
Posts: 1319
Joined: Aug 2009

but I to, think it's a gastric issue. It has all the classical signs of bloating and acute pain. In fact, acid reflux has been blamed for head and neck cancer in some cases as stomach juices are quite corrosive and do what alcohol does from the other side. I'm sure you can relate to the wound site of the feeding tube and how difficult it was to keep the area healed. When you resolve this issue please schedule and complete a colonoscopy. My head and neck cancer was discovered routinely because I went to the doctor to get a referal for a colonoscopy purely by chance. Anyway I finally got the colonoscopy after treatment for HNC and they found nine polyps. One was on the way to becomming cancer. The great thing about this test is that they just clip the polyps out which is a walk in the park for us. I love chicken soup and make it routinely as my kids are constantly asking for it.

Posts: 665
Joined: Apr 2010

When my gastro Dr. was installing my feeding tube he discovered I had a gastric ulcer. I never had a problem untill I started to eat again then all hell broke loose. Bloated, stabbing pain even throwing up! Fine when I ate but after holy cow did I suffer. I am on medication Periat! Plus watch what I eat. No processed food, spicy or carbonated beverages. The list is huge but it is working. Also drink lot's of water & no coffee. I cheat as I need at least one in the morning. I am 13 month's post treatment & managing quite well. I am no expert but if you have an ulcer once you are on medication & proper diet you will do fine.

DrMary's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Nov 2010

To see through eyes that only see what's real; tell me Grey Seal." (Lame lyrics and lamer music - only very silly fans of Elton John's bought the Friends album.)

Anyway, your symptoms: pain, pressure and bloating in your lower left abdominal quadrant. It could be small intestine (generally belly button level and higher) - in which case, I'd suspect something like giardia or a bacterial infection (the latter is rare, but possible). If it is lower, then you are looking at classic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A duodenal ulcer would be on the right side, under your rib cage (where you would also feel gall bladder pain - this is what keeps the ultrasound folks in business).

You can treat the small intestine things with drugs, and an irritable bowel with diet. But, you should see a doctor, and soon. Both can inhibit absorption of nutrients.

BTW, congratulations on your larger throat - life just has to get better when you can swallow noodles and bits of chicken!

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Joe sorry to hear you are having so many problems with so much pain. I too have problems on both sides of my lower bowels I guess you could call it that. I had a colonoscopy as I thought is might have been cancer because my Mother died of colon cancer when she was 56. But when the doc ran the scoped he found nothing but one little pilup that was so small when he cut it off he lost it. I still have the pain and don’t know why. I did ask one of my doc at MD Anderson and he told me due to the amount of radiation I took there is no telling what side affects I will develop in the future and that might just be one too add to the list.

Anyway I hope you find the problem and get rid of the pain

PS: Yep I too love the Chicken Noodle Soup

All the best to you

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Thanks to all for the comments. It is oddly comforting that the consensus seems to be along the lines of an ulcer (the lesser of two evils, for sure!), especially when you all seem to have had identical sorts of symptoms.

I am scheduled for a mtg with GastroPod on May 10, but wife is trying to move that up.

With respect to the colonoscopy, I know my time has come and that it is likely in my near future, but I am hopeful that you will not be disappointed in me for trying to forestall it for as long as possible, even if I am setting a bad example :).

Take care,


PS. Note to Dr. Mary: Grey Seal was on the album alluded to in my heading to this response; I have never heard or heard of a "Friends" album by John. Goodbye was the last album by Sir Elton that I really liked. I am from the Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot the Piano Player, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water generation.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

I never thought I would wish an ulcer on anyone but it is certainly the lesser of two evils. Hubby had an ulcer since the day I met him but he has finally learned to watch what he eats and doesn't suffer any pain now. It took him nearly 20 years to learn that but it finally set in after several stays at the hospital...men can be such slow learners :)

Keep the humor coming, it is much appreciated.


MarineE5's picture
Posts: 907
Joined: Dec 2005

: )

DrMary's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Nov 2010

when I could have told which album and track, along with who the sound engineer was - it has been too long since I was a psycho Elton John fan. I did, of course, remember the words, so I guess I'm not totally cured. I don't know why I placed it on Friends (roughly his second album - he did the soundtrack for a movie called "Friends") as it is certainly GYBR style.

Anyway, can you describe more precisely where your pain is? I'm not yet in the ulcer camp (although I also don't think it is something worse). An ulcer really should be hurting either just under your breast bone (the tip or an inch or so above) or in the area under where your ribs end, 2-4 inches on either side of the tip of your breastbone (if it's on the right side, it could also be gall bladder, but it doesn't sound like it). If the pain/bloating is lower, I would suspect one of the things I mentioned (irritable/inflamed bowel, or a GI infection). Either of those is easier to deal with than an ulcer, so I'm really hoping for one of those for you.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Um, it turns out the bloating and cramping has been across the spectrum, pretty much left to right and in what I presume is the abdominal area. In any event, most of that is behind me. The stabbing pain is in what they are now (today as I try to get earlier appt per wife's insistence) callng the lower left quadrant.

Cutting to the chase, I just got the call and am to expect another call to set up a CT scan of the abdominal area, followed by visit with GastroPod next week to discuss the results. Talk about cutting to the chase!

I cannot remember the last time I shed a tear, but I nearly shed one when the nurse who called gave me that wonderful news.

Like you and others, I am pretty sure that the news will be much better than whatever a CT scan might reveal with respect to cancer. Still, there is some residual darkness going on right now.

It's all good and, strangely enough, eating now more and more frequently, it is not the issue it was.

Take care,


Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1566
Joined: Nov 2009

Hey Joe!
Sorry to hear you are again suffering in pain. Glad to hear the dilation went well, and seems to have helped you in that department. Hoping your wife does get your appt. moved up some. Who wants to be in pain any more than they have to? I am going with something intestinal, or gallbladder. Gallbladder pain usually starts after eating, pain under rib cage, usually on right side, this pain will travel around your back and into the center of your chest, usually making you eventually vomit. Feels like indigestion to start, than pain in chest feels like heart attack. Hope this finds you feeling somewhat better. Keep eating that chicken soup...it is good for what ails you! Just make a few small meals from one can! Keep in touch. :)
Tina in Va

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I'm fine, my friend. No worries.

But avoiding chicken noodle soup for the time being hahahaha.

Take care, sweetness,


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