As far as the antacid, this was my second attempt to go without. I've already stated that unnecessary suffering isn't my bag, so why wouldn't I continue to take it? Well, long term use of this particular type of medication can cause a host of other problems from c-diff to bone fractures to lupus, and more! Therefore, I'd like to stop taking it, if possible. Attempt #1 was about a year ago, I lasted a few days before deciding my heartburn was too bad without it. Attempt #2 lasted about three months, and then the stomach pain returned. I was supposed to go back on it for two weeks and then off of it again, but a month later I'm still taking it. I am going to talk to my gastroenterologist about stopping again. Wish me luck! Which will ultimately be the lesser of the evils? Long term omeprozole use with the long list of potential nasty side effects, or stomach pain? Ideally, the stomach pain would cease to be even without the drug. But three years post surgery, stomach pain is still a thing for me, unfortunately.
The tumor I had is statistically unlikely to come back. However, it was even more unlikely (like millions of times more unlikely) that I'd get this tumor in the first place. The doctors (whom I trust very much) have decided that I should have diagnostic imaging done at regular intervals for the rest of my life as the tumor can show up again 5, 10, 15+ years after diagnosis. Unfortunately, the best way to see what's going on inside my pancreas & other digestive organs is a CT scan. I have lost track of how many CT scans I've had, but at my two year follow up with gastroenterology, my doctor said, "You are too young to have all of that radiation. Once every two years is enough." In the case that you didn't already know this, CT scans come with a heavy dose of radiation that can CAUSE CANCER. That's right, the imaging I get to see if I have cancer can actually cause cancer. It's a fairly small risk, but a risk nonetheless. My doctors have decided that it's a better idea to check for cancer that I have already had using a CT scan despite the radiation. To the best of their knowledge, it's more likely that the CT scan will be able to help me than it is likely to hurt me. It's the lesser of the evils, these two evils being "radiation" and "cancer."
I'm quite comfortable deferring to the medical professionals on this one. I didn't start that way; I spent enough time worrying about my pancreas and all related parts for a long while. It took medication, therapy, and time to get me to realize that I wasn't going to stave off the cancer by knowing more about it. I am no longer obsessed. Being aware of your health and being able to self-advocate is super important, of course, but obsession is harmful.
To conclude, here's a recap of the evils:
- Regular antacid vs. Stomach pain= Antacid wins
- Pancreatic enzymes vs. Intestinal Inconvenience= Enzymes win
- Radiation vs. Cancer= Radiation wins
I have had a few years to contemplate the above battles of evil, and that is where I currently stand. Thankfully, I do not fight these battles alone. My doctors & I will revisit these issues as I change and as medicine gains more knowledge.