March 14, 2007

It WAS a Tumah

I've had a lovely recurring tumor for nearly 20 years. I still remember very well the first time my mom saw it. I was sitting on her lap at about 9 years old (and yes I STILL sit on her lap) and she shrieked "What is that on your leg!" Her disgust led to what has become a lifetime of poking and prodding at the wierd bump on my leg.

For about six years it went misdiagnosed as tendonitis and/or shin splints. Finally at 15 years old it was identified as a hemangioma. I'm pretty lucky as they normally appear externally on the face. Do a google search. They're gross.

A hemangioma is a benign vascular tumor and mine was located between my bone and muscle. It only hurt when contact was made with my shin, but when that happened it was brutal.

I had my first hemangioma removed at 15. At 24, it returned and I had it removed again, my request for a videotaped procedure denied.

At 27 I started experiencing a more constant dull ache. This time, I could touch the area with little pain, but inside was throbbing - and I often tossed and turned in my sleep, like in those restless leg commercials (shut up Jed). I met with the surgeon who took the place of surgeon #2 and we monitored its progress over six months.

In January the surgeon noted that the growth was significant enough to warrant a third operation. Apparently, cells can appear normal but are really abnormal and wait to develop after I've just healed from the previous operation. This time however, my awesome surgeon was determined to teach that tumor a lesson.

Lucky for me, the receptionist for surgeon #3 was also the receptionist for surgeon #2 and remembered my plea for videotaping. As a result, my surgeon offered to photograph my tumor. (My request to keep it was also denied). Apparently, videotaping can result in possible lawsuits should anything go wrong.

On March 2, Jed took me into Hartford Hospital where I was blessed to have the most wonderful group of people look after me. My surgery was about an hour and a half - maybe a little less. The last thing I remember saying before the anesthesia was "Have Fun", which was much better than when I was 15 and the nurse told me to lift up so she could remove my underpants, and then when I was 24 and they restrained my hands because I tried to take the mask off and talk to them.

Originally, my doctor thought the hemangioma was 2 x 3 cm. Turns out it was nearly 4 inches as you can see below. Inside are swollen veins and you can see, though blurry, around the edges are calcium deposits, which were also found on the inside of the specimen. I was surprised at how little muscle pain I had. However, there was a lot of pain at the point of incision (followed by a swollen and blueish grey cankle - those pics to follow) I thought I had stitches and that was causing the pain but it turns out this tumor grew before I had finished developing, pushing up on my bone and causing a bit of a curve. The tumor also caused my bone to expand...not sure how that works.

The pain was because they removed part of my shin bone! How cool is that! They actually shaved part of it off. Hopefully, that will reduce my bumpiness and I will have an even longer scar than before. Scars are pretty cool, bumps are not.

Please enjoy my pictures below...sorry if it bothers any of you, but I felt I deserved to post them after waiting for nearly 20 years to be rid of this thing. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't return!

Looks like chicken!

Posted by karen at 04:41 PM | Comments (3)