I have been asked many times about how i found out about the pancreatic cancer i was recently diagnosed with. In retrospect, i can see early signs/symptoms months before anything major became apparent. Here is a short list. I write these down only for the purpose of hopefully helping someone out there who may be having similar symptoms.
1. I found that i was much more comfortable digestively speaking, if i slept on the couch in an inclined position. This became a habit which i attributed to me having been taking night call at work for the past 7 years. I would sleep on the couch so as not to wake up Robin when i would be paged to go to the Hospital.
2. While driving over a long distance, my ribs under my pec muscles would feel like they were caving in to my abdomen. I would take my hands and hold/pull on my upper rib cage to get relief at red lights, etc.
3. Eating and not being satisfied and then feeling like the food was not being processed or moved beyond the level of my stomach/upper intestines - so i would eat more a little while later thinking this might push things on through. This did not work. Robin recalls me complaining about the above symptoms.
The closer i came to early Dec. 2005 the worse this symptom became.
4. In Nov. 2005, i recall that my back was beginning to hurt at the lower level between my shoulder blades. I could not get relief from this pain with a massage or pills. I could function but it was a 'pain in the back'.
5. Fatigue was another sign. Dragging around the month before i was thinking i needed a vacation. (But i did not want this kind!)
6. Then early Dec. 2005, my urine became very, very dark orange and my stool was very lite tan, almost white. This is a very significant symptom which shows that bile flow is compromised and the kidneys are now having to be the pathway for getting bile out of the body - which is not good, especially for a long period of time. Bile in the intestinal tract is responsible for the dark color of stool. If it is no longer flowing into the digestive system, you will have a lite colored stool.
7. Another new fact to me was that without bile going where it should, not only do you not properly digest, but you are losing essential amino acids/proteins and other ingredients which you are eating but not getting the full benefit of - hence weight loss and fatigue.
8. The last symptom that i should have picked up on myself was also the most obvious - jaundice. When the bile backs up into your system - your eyes and skin slowly turn a yellow/gold shade. Because we all look at ourselves everyday in the mirror - this can sneek up on you - just like it did me. Robin had a lady friend, who now lives out of town and who was in for a visit, who told Robin after she found out about my diagnosis that when she saw me the first time in the school gym "that George looked like he was sick". She was kicking herself for not saying something.
Hindsight is always 20/20. I pray none will ever have to deal with cancer, but i know that is wishful praying/thinking. Hopefully in the near future we as a society will find the root causes and more efficient cures for these various afflictions. Until then ya'll, please pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. Had i done that i would have possibly been 6 weeks or more ahead of the game. My God give us wisdom and knowledge and understanding. God bless. GW.