My Poor Liver

So I’ve been having a lot of pain in my liver and mid back for quite some time now (as well as other symptoms).  I didn’t even want to tell the doctors about any additional symptoms I had because I knew they didn’t believe me already.  I talked to a friend of mine who is a nurse and asked if her if something wrong with my liver, if it would show up in blood work.  She said it would show up, so that eased my mind for the time.  I had also just started some treatments for the Lyme and my body was trying to get rid of all of the toxins, which can be very tough on the liver and kidneys.  I decided not to worry much about this, and just continue trying to make it through each day.

On Easter Sunday, I was feeling the worst I had in quite some time.  I had been having cardiac symptoms most of the night (many Lyme patients experience cardiac symptoms) chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, numbness in arms, etc.  I felt really horrible and was very scared.  I ended up having my mom take me to the ER because I had never had these symptoms last so long.

Anyhow, we got to the ER and they gave me some meds to slow my heart rate and did a bunch of tests.  They came to talk to me after the CT scan of my chest and said that my heart looked good (and I could tell there was a ‘but’ coming), BUT they found a large mass in my liver- from what they could tell, it was at least 12.5 cm.  My parents and I were obviously panicking at this point, and were informed that they would not be able to do any further testing until Monday.  They had already given me the contrast die, and my body wouldn’t be able to process another round in the same day.

So, we went home with our minds running wild and sick with fear.  That’s an enormous mass, especially for someone my size.  And when you hear the words ‘liver mass’ your automatically think of liver cancer.  The problem is, when cancer is found in the liver, it has almost always metastasized from somewhere else in the body.  Having that on my mind for the next 24 hours was almost too much to handle.

We went back on Monday for the CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis, for which I was given 2 very large radioactive tasting lemonades to drink before the procedure.  Mmmm, I bet you’re drooling just thinking of that.  Anyhow, they did the scans fairly quickly, and then we had to wait for what seemed like forever.  Waiting is the worst.  When my doc finally came in, he informed us that the mass in my liver was actually 14.5 x 12 x 11 cm!  I couldn’t comprehend how something so large could be inside of me and no one had detected it until then.  I’d been having so many symptoms from the Lyme and treatments, I couldn’t even tell what day it was, let alone what was happening in the crazy world inside of my body.  I’m soooo lucky I went in to the ER and they found it before it was too late.

My doc explained that the mass was identified as a hemangioma (most likely), which is a benign growth of blood vessels or something like that.  He said that hemangiomas are fairly common (and likely something I was born with), but most people never know they have them because they remain very small and don’t cause any symptoms.  A giant hemangioma is considered anything above 4cm, and mine was measuring 14.5 at its largest part…so that’s a super enormous giant in a very small body.  Due to the size, my doctor expressed concern of this mass rupturing, which would cause internal bleeding and could be fatal.  It has also been putting pressure on my kidney and small intestine, so that’s another concern.  He explained to me that these things are kind of similar to balloons- very difficult to blow up when they’re small, but as they continue to grow, the cell walls become thinner, and they can grow more and more quickly, as well as rupture more easily.

All of this was a lot to swallow, especially since I had just begun to accept my Lyme diagnosis and start to deal with that.  I felt like I had been hit in the head with a brick, again, just as I was starting to try to pick up the pieces.  The good news was that they did not find any other masses in the entire abdomen or pelvis, and they did not think the mass was characteristic of a malignant tumor.   Ok, quick deep breath…now I had to focus on getting in with a liver specialist ASAP, because I was really freaking out about the possibility of this thing rupturing.

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