This week I learned a new word: ascites. In clinical terms, it's a buildup of fluid in the peritoneal cavity caused by the liver's inability to process wastes. In more approachable terms, courtesy of Dr SC's lead nurse Kelly, "Think of the liver as a garbage disposal. Ascites is what backs up when the system's clogged."
I learned this one because it appears that I've developed it. We won't know for certain until I've undergone my usual round of scans this coming Wednesday, but I've got the classic symptoms: distended abdomen, feeling of fullness, loss of appetite, constant low backache, general fatigue. What makes this fatigue different from my normal level, you may ask? It's hard to explain, but I feel heavy, lethargic, and always uncomfortable. It could be worse; Kelly described the backache as "pregnant back" - I figure she should know, as she has twins. The backache is accompanied by gross distension of the belly, sometimes approaching "full-term" size. I've never been pregnant myself, so I can only distantly appreciate what every mother goes through.
I'm on a diuretic and have doubled my dose of Dilaudid. So far, after only two doses of the diuretic, my abdomen has deflated, my appetite has returned, and my backache has receded. Last night I slept the night through and I feel more energetic today than I have for a week.
When I encounter a new word these days, I think of "The Secret Word" on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. "Scream real loud!!" What a way to learn!