Ed Arenberg - Journey to Recovery
The Beginning (April 2005)
It all started in mid-April. I woke up one morning with some abdominal pain. It felt like gas was blocked up, but it wouldn't come out. I went for a run, and I remember feeling some gurgling, and eventually the pain went away. For the next several days, this came and went, but I had no other issues. Some nights I had some trouble sleeping, and others were fine. The pain moved around, from the front-left, to the left-side, and back-left of the lower abdomen at different times. I was able to keep training through the end of the month. I had a 70 mile week for the first week of these symptoms. The next week was going to be a recovery week as I was traveling to Baton Rouge / New Orleans for the ABC National Bowling Tournament. The pain was getting a little more frequent just before the trip, but I went anyway. I had done a little research on the Web and thought I might have some form of abdominal blockage. After 2 mostly sleepless nights in Baton Rouge I took a laxative and that seemed to help. I was feeling much better on Monday (5/2/05) and had a good time in New Orleans. However, Wednesday evening, toward the end of my regular bowling league (back in Torrance) I started feeling tired and had some soreness in the leg muscles. I got very little sleep that night, and felt pretty bad in the morning. I was having abdominal pains again, and felt bad overall. I took the laxative again (it takes 6 to 12 hours to have an effect), and managed a half hour nap in a chair. After that I was feeling a little better and went out to meet my partners for lunch, but only had a small smoothie (nothing else seemed appetizing). After that I decided it was time to see a doctor and went to an urgent care clinic.
The Emergency Room (5/5/2005)
There was nobody waiting in the urgent care clinic and I went right in. I was still feeling pretty bad, with discomfort in the abdomen. They took my temperature (102 !!) and some x-rays. The x-rays showed a distended bowel, but the doctor couldn't do much more, so he sent me over to the emergency room at Little Company of Mary Hospital, where they could do more tests quickly. I got there about 3 PM, filled out some paper work and waited. I tried to get some sleep (there were a lot of other people waiting), and managed a few minutes here and there, and spoke to my brother. I also told Viv I didn't think I'd be at the track for that evening's workout. They called my name about 4 PM and took down my info. I was feeling much better at this point. My temperature was gone (they took it again), and the pain in my abdomen has subsided. They sent me back out to wait for a doctor. About 5 PM I was finally called back in. They had me undress and ran an IV into my right arm. They took some blood and gave me a saline drip. A half hour later I saw Doctor Baldridge. He discussed my symptoms and ordered a CAT scan of the abdomen. He later said my blood tests were fine. I drank a barium solution and waited 2 hours for the scan. I was in one of several alcove areas in the emergency area. There were several partitioned off areas and a nursing station. I was in the alcove, outside of one of the partitions. I tried to sleep some, and finally was wheeled over to the CAT scan around 8:30 PM. They gave me an iodine drip and then ran the scan. It didn't take very long, and I was soon back in the alcove. Sometime much later (I was starting to lose track of time), the doctor told me they had found some lymph nodes in the abdomen that were enlarged or shouldn't be there. He wasn't sure what they meant and would consult with an oncologist. Having worked with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through the Team in Training, I knew this was not good, but as yet there was no diagnosis. I had some more blood drawn, and tried to sleep some. At this point they had wheeled me into one of the partitioned areas. Sometime after midnight they took me for an ultrasound of the testicle area. I wasn't fully awake and it didn't really sink in why they might be doing this. Sometime before 3 AM, the doctor returned and gave me the bad news - testicular cancer. There was a small mass (1.8 x 1.1 cm) in the right testicle, and that it had likely spread into the lower abdomen but no farther. I remember breaking out in a sweat at this point and being somewhat speechless. I couldn't even think of any questions to ask, but fortunately the doctor was very comforting and explained what he knew and that there was a very high survival rate. My being physically fit would help. They gave me some adavan to help calm me, and gave me some info and referrals for a Urologist and Oncologist. They were very helpful and supportive. They gave me a phone and I called my brother, Jeff. Everything else could wait for the morning. I checked out and found my car. Apparently it had rained while I was there. I got home about 3:30 AM and fortunately had no trouble going to sleep.
The Reality (5/6/2005)
Fortunately I slept well, because I had a long day ahead. The first calls were to set up appointments for Monday with the Urologist (Dr. Park) and Oncologist (Dr. Mori). After that I felt my parents would be up and I told them the news. That was a tough phone call. I started doing some research, and started a notebook. There were many phone calls that morning, including my partners (Pete and Brad). Everyone was very supportive and I feel blessed to have so many good friends. I started making a list of things to do, or cancel, and people to contact. I will not be coaching the Team in Training this coming season (which starts 5/14). I will not be running the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon on 6/5, where I had hopes of running a Boston qualifying time. Next year's Boston Marathon would mark 10 years since my first and only one. I will not be bowling this summer, and likely won't finish out the current season. I went to the office in the afternoon and talked with Pete and Brad. I was able to catch up on a few things, and make sure the servers were in good shape. I went home, watched some television and managed to go to sleep.
I had some discomfort in the abdomen today, but it wasn't too bad. It just never really went away all day. Took care of as much as I could today (bills, EPage servers, etc.) as I have no idea what Monday will bring. Went to Viv and Greg's place in the evening. Talked and enjoyed the view. We had some food and watched Shrek 2. Thanks guys for a very enjoyable evening. It really helps to just talk about stuff and be among friends.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Slept pretty well, and had almost no discomfort thoughout the day. Took Pete and Susan to the airport (they're off to New York for a week), and did laundry, recycling, etc. Went to my parent's place to celebrate my birthday (tomorrow) and Mother's Day. We talked a lot, had a nice dinner and an icecream cake, exchanged presents, and watched a little TV. It was hard to leave, but I had a big day tomorrow, and I knew I would see them soon.
Happy Birthday to me!