Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Visiting the Oncologist.

I'm not really scared about this lymph gland thing, but it's very unsettling, still, to walk into a building with a big sign on it that says CANCER CENTER.

Then comes the routine of filling out the forms for yet another new doctor. I meant to bring all my meds with me, but in my haste to get out of the apartment, I forgot. So, there I am trying to list everything I take. Let's see: Atripla, Glucophage, Actos, the little blue pill I have to take before meals... what's it called, and the blood pressure med that sounds like a Marvel superhero... Cozaar, Lipitor, Tricor, Synthroid... what else.

I'm scanning my med tray, mentally peering into each slot trying to remember what goes where. This one with the last meal, this one at night, this one before I eat in the morning. And it's not like I have the best memory to begin with. And then they want to know the dosage. Dosage?? And there are never enough slots for me. My list of meds is so long, I start squeezing them two to a slot.

By the time they came to get me, I was ready for nap.

They weigh me, check my vital signs (I have any left?) and the doctor comes in. This new doctor was young and absolutely gorgeous. (Check my vital signs now.) I thought people who looked like this were only on TV doctor shows.

You know what's really great about having a beautiful doctor? As they're talking to you, you can stare into their eyes all you want. Usually when you meet someone that cute, you're trying to keep from embarrassing yourself by staring too much. But in the doctor's office, you get to stare all you want!

Then he began the long list of possibilities. "People with HIV get swollen glands all the time. Chances are it's nothing."

Looking at my last tests, he noticed I had an elevated red blood count. Looking at my list of meds, the says, "This is definitely a side effect of one of your meds, but I don't like to see it that high. So, first we'll take a new round of blood tests and check to see if that's the cause. If it is, we'll do a transfusion procedure and replace some of your blood with a solution to thin it out a bit. It's just too thick to get to some of your smaller capillaries."

He continued, "Next week, we'll do a chest x-ray to make sure you lungs look okay. Then we'll follow that up with a CAT scan" -- I think he said CAT scan, although it sounded CET scan, which I googled and found was some kind of NASA thing -- "which will let us look internally at your glands. And if we can't eliminate infection or other causes, the last thing we'll try is a biopsy. So, that's our plan. How does that sound to you?"

I smiled into his eyes and said something completely unintelligible.

Then he felt my glands under my arms. "Yes, this one is a swollen. Does it hurt?"


"How long has it been swollen?"

"I didn't know it was swollen until Dr. Tony noticed it a month ago, and then called me in for a follow-up."

He then checked my other arm.

"This one is a little swollen, too. Not as bad, and it's soft. That's a good sign."

Yay, I thought. A good sign!

"Okay," he said, "Loosen your pants and let me check the glands in your groin."

Oh dear. Like I need Blue Eyes poking around down there.

"This all feels okay."

I agreed that it did.

He smiled at me and said they'd take blood and then schedule me for a return next week. And boy, did they take blood. 12 vials worth. And a urine sample.

After it was all over, I called Jim who was feeling helpless, wishing he could be here to hold my hand. But Florida is way far away. I assured him I was feeling fine. We talked at length and joked around a little. I told him to not worry, that I was doing okay.

Then I called Ernie and told him I supposed it was about time for me to have a new disease for the blog since I've about used up all the diseases I've had so far.

He joked, "Yeah. Diabetes just doesn't cut it anymore. Everyone has that."

Then I spoke with Michael who joked with me some more.

It's always good to have friends who can engage you in some good black humor. It's the only way to survive the tedium of tests and forms and the great unknown.

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