Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My doctor has just informed me that that he can't do anything for me...except make me wait 40 minutes past my appointment time. This is, if you remember, after making me wait 3 months. Apparently, in a former life, this guy was a cable guy.

Yeah. So during my disappointing appointment he told me of his office's struggle to try and get me an appointment with a neurologist. Apparently, it was a very frustrating time for them. All those phone calls. GOD. The horror.

I thought these guys played golf together or at the very least sat on a couch in their deluxe lounges playing OUII Golf. You work in the same office as these guys. You're telling me you can't stick your head in an office door and say, "Hey Jerry. I've got this guy who's had the same headache for 10 months and is slowly losing all feeling in his body. Any way you can squeeze him in for an appointment? I'll owe you one, Big Guy."

Guess not. I guess everybody keeps their heads down and there is no looking out for the little guy with crappy insurance. I guess, save the moral support I am receiving (Which is AWESOME ~ THANK YOU!) I am on my own. And let me tell you, doctors and appointment makers, you may have just unleashed the Kraaken.

So after dropping the bomb that he couldn't help me and that I probably shouldn't have been sent to him, he dropped another by telling me that my best chance to see a neurologist any time soon would be to contact my primary care physician. Okay. Four months, several MRI's and brain scans later, still no change for the good, and now I'm taking huge steps....Tyrannosaurus Rex foot-sized steps backwards.


Next I'm gonna find out that the only person who can save me is Frank. You remember Frank? The man who put "uncaring bastard" in "ineptitude."

I'm desperate for answers...for relief...for help. But am I that desperate? I just don't know any more.

Even as I type this my forearms are going numb. My legs are tingling. My neck feels like there is an icepick lodged inside and every little movement, every head turn, every time I open my jaw the icepick's pointy steel tip pokes another nerve ending and rips into it.

The only thing missing is Lawrence Olivier standing behind me, a tray of surgical tools at his side as he asks "Is it safe?"

"Yes! It's safe! Pull the ice pick from my neck and put some of that salve on it to make the owwies go away! SAFE? Oh my God is it safe! You couldn't be any safer! A penis with four condoms on it would look at you and say 'Wow! That guy is safe. I'm so jealous."

Making the decision to go to the emergency room at MCV the other night was nothing more than an act of desperation.

I've been told by my neurosurgeon that he can't really do anything for me. Well okay then. I appreciate the candor. Hate the fact that you could have told me all that 3 months ago...but appreciate your candor none-the-less. I'm not going to waste any more time sitting in the uncomfortable chairs in his waiting room while he makes me wait an extra 40 minutes because he is running behind.

I'm done.

So my options right now are extremely limited. Well, extremely limited if I want to play by the rules of the game and be a good boy and do as I'm told. I'm so at the "Fuck the rules!" part of the game. I really am. Anger is my best medicine right now. I take ten of those a day....followed by one frustration with breakfast and two at bedtime.

It seems that there are no appointments with a neurologist available for me until October. As I am typing this, it is June 29th. You do the math.

My strategy with going to the ER this past Sunday night was that some people in the know had suggested to me. Getting admitted into the ER might be a good way to slide in through the "back door" and get to a neurologist faster they said. Sounds like a good plan. i'm game. Hell. At this point I'd take a guy with a bone in his nose shaking a chicken over my neck. Anyway, it sounded like the people in the know really knew "the know."


That didn't work. The people in the know turned out to be the people who didn't know. As it turned out, I wound up in the ER for a little over 8 hours. With no back door in sight. It was a very long night of lots of questions and no answers.

Questions. Ahhh questions.

Let me say this to the doctors I saw that night. Can you please get together on what questions you are going to ask me? Please. Just a little planning before you head into a patient's exam room. That's all I'm asking.

Do you know how annoying it is to sit there and answer the exact same questions from 4 different people? Do you all not confer before you see a patient? Is there no "Why don't you take questions 1 through 4, Jim. I'll take 5 through 11 and Beth...you take the rest. Everybody clear? Good. Gooooo doctors!!"

Then there could be a high five, a few sips of cold, stale coffee and then it's off to ignore the patient for two or three hours.

Once again...FAIL!

4 doctors. The same questions. GOD. I just wanted to scream. Like the lady in the bed in the room next to me who was strapped to the rails and wearing something that looked like the hockey mask Hannibal wore in Silence of the Lambs. I wanted to scream and throw things.

Somebody please give that chick some fava beans and tell her to shut the Hell up!

Here's what I know as of right now.

My surgeon has identified the previously unknown mass inside my spinal column. And let me tell you. This guy must be the best doctor in the whole world because he hasn't done any further testing on me, my spinal column, or Orville. Nothing more than a few MRI's and brain scans. There has been no biopsy. There's been no dissection of Orville of any kind. After waiting 3 months to see what would happen and a few minutes of looking at my most recent MRI, this wunder-doc was able to say with no uncertainty that Orville is in fact a cavernoma.

Basically, he is saying with absolute certainty that Orville is this cluster of blood cells and tissue. Absolute certainty. So. That means that in the 3 month interim he has obtained some magical power to see inside my body and diagnose something without even looking at it on anything more than film. Which is where we were 3 fucking months ago!

The only problem with Mr. Peabody's conclusion is that, and granted this is based on my thorough research on the internet and after having read "The Idiot's Guide to Annoying and Painful Things in My Body," the basic function of a cavernoma is to eat and get bigger. THAT'S what it does. It's like a shark. It eats and eats and eats. (Some please cue the theme from JAWS)

And judging from the last series of film, Orville is basically the same size as he was 3 months ago. I didn't see this film, so I guess that means I will have to take my doctor's word on that.

And let me pause to say that it's my film. I want to see it. When I order a steak in a restaurant I want to see the bloody thing on a plate in front of me. I don't want the chef's word that it was cooked perfectly and that he's never had better.


No change. Really? So. What? Is Orville just full or is he not a cavernoma? Did he give up for clustering blood cells for Lent? Did he just wake up one morning and decide "I think I'm good. I'm done here" and then take out some travel brochures for Hawaii?

Okay. Here's another problem I have with this absolute, written-in-stone diagnosis.

Again this comes from my research...if Orville does in fact turn out to be a caveroma, the research I've done states that the only way to deal with it is to surgically remove it.

And my surgeon (Hellooo?! Anybody see an error in logic here?) is telling me that there is nothing he can do for me?

Excuse me?!!

In the words of Abraham Lincoln..."What the fuck? Really?"

And all of this is now part of my medical record.

So when I was in the ER the other night and the neuroconsultant reviewed my records, she informed me that I have a cavernoma in my spinal column.

The consultant was an odd looking woman. Eyes like a pug and two rows of tiny little teeth. She was Indian (Dot not feather) Not that that has anything to do with it, I just wanted to paint the full picture. And all the while we talked, she kept looking at me like I was crazy.

Who knows? Maybe I am.

Any, I was a little more than surprised to hear that Orville had been given a real name. I told her that was the first time that I had heard that there had been an actual classification of the previously un-named entity. She informed me that my surgeon had made the call.

First off, he's not my surgeon! We're just seeing each other. I mean...C'mon! He hasn't even cut into me. We've just had a few dates in his office. There's been no physical contact. Just some awkward conversation over the blood pressure machine.

Second of all...how the Hell can we call it a cavernoma when we haven't done any sort of biopsy? Huh? Tell me that Dr. Susie Sourpuss!!

"Well,' says Susie, "It's all here on your chart."

Oh. Well. If it's on my chart. Then I understand.

What if my chart said...oh...I don't know...that I was pregnant. Would you believe that too?

So she poked me and tested me. She broke a Q-tip and rubbed and stuck me with first the fuzzy soft end and then with the sharp end with wooden shards. She had me walk for her. She had me squeeze her fingers like I was milking a cow. I was half-expecting "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" but apparently that test hasn't been approved by the people who approve such things.

After about 15 minutes she made he diagnosis. 15 minutes. It's a new world record, I tell you! She has the magic touch. SHE'S A GENIUS! A MIRACLE WORKER!!

Susie told me that I had cool tattoos.

Uh. Thanks? And you have...uhh...great beady little eyes?

Then she told me that I should see a neurologist and she would try to make an appointment for me. (Okay. So far my strategy was working. I was going to slide in the back door to a neurologist and be home free! Wait til October?! Puh-leeeze!!)

She also told me that she was going to increase the dosage of one of my medications. She said she was going upstairs to do all that and be back in a little bit ("The check is in the mail.") and then I would be able to go home.

Three and a half hours later the ER attending handed me some paper work and discharged me.

I never saw Susie again. Never.

So I went home. The sun was just coming up as I walked out of the hospital's automatic Star Trek doors. It was 7:15 AM and it was already 75 degrees and humid. My neck was killing me and I hadn't eaten in over 17 hours.


I'm sorry. What's that you say? What was Dr. Sourpuss's diagnosis? Oh. She told me that I am more than likely suffering from peripheral neuropathy. I know. Great SCRABBLE word, right? But besides applications towards SCRABBLE, what does it all mean?

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Here. Read this...

From wikipedia:

Peripheral neuropathy is the term for damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system,[which may be caused either by diseases of the nerve or from the side-effects of systemic illness. The four cardinal patterns of peripheral neuropathy are polyneuropathy, mononeuropathy, mononeuritis multiplex and autonomic neuropathy. The most common form is (symmetrical) peripheral polyneuropathy, which mainly affects the feet and legs. The form of neuropathy may be further broken down by cause, or the size of predominant fiber involvement, i.e., large fiber or small fiber peripheral neuropathy. Frequently the cause of a neuropathy cannot be identified and it is designated idiopathic. Idiopathic is an adjective used primarily in medicine meaning arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause. From Greek ἴδιος, idios (one's own) + πάθος, pathos (suffering), it means approximately "a disease of its own kind". It is technically a term from nosology, the classification of disease. For some medical conditions, one or more causes are somewhat understood, but in a certain percentage of people with the condition, the cause may not be readily apparent or characterized. In these cases, the origin of the condition is said to be idiopathic.

In the American television show House, the title character Dr. Gregory House remarks that the word "comes from the Latin, meaning 'we're idiots, because we don't know what's causing it'".

Oh Dr. House. Where are you when I need you?

And that's "jody" with a "y"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"And So I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed
JUST To get it all out what's in my head
AND I, I Am feeling a little peculiar
AND So I wake in the morning and I step
Outside AND I take deep breath
AND I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What's goin' on?

I said hey! what's goin' on
I said hey! what's goin' on?

"What's going on" 4 Non Blondes

So yesterday was a pretty big day for me.
Strike that!
So...yesterday was supposed to be a pretty big day for me.
As it turned out, it was nothing more than a long day.

My last doctor's appointment was a little over three months ago. Over the last three months, I envisioned yesterday as the day when all my questions would be answered. Once again, I got myself all excited about nothing. Sort of like when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was being promoted. Lots of hype-no payoff.

Needless to say I was more than crushed when I left MCV yesterday. Crushed and angry. Crushed, angry, and still feeling horrible. Not at all what I had been hoping for. It was like the ending to the television series Lost. I'm still not sure what happened, but I'm pretty sure I'm not happy about it.

The MRI went fine. I've got several punches on my MRI card now and only three more and I got a t-shirt or a sub sandwich. I can't remember. I've gotten quite used to the cramped confines of the MRI machine now and my only worry is that I will choke on my own spit. I don't know why, but as soon as I lay down, ear plugs in place, as soon as they begin to slide me backwards, my throat starts to itch and I start producing large amounts of drool. It's why I sleep with a beach towel under my head at bedtime. It all starts with a tickle at the back of my throat and then the swallowing and then I start to back up and before you know I'm drowning in drool.

Sexy right? You're just a little turned on, aren't you?

So, there I am. Unable to move in the tube of bangs and clanks, and I'm trying not to swallow and my throat is filling up with spit and drool and God knows what else and I've got that little ball in my left hand to squeeze if there are any problems but I know that if I squeeze it the voice in the machine will ask me what the problem is and then I will have to open my mouth to explain and then the dam walls will open and before you know it there is I'm covered in a drool and when they pull me out of the machine to find out why they lost contact with me, I look like a freaking glazed doughnut.

I survived. I swallowed my pride and a lot of other fluids and got through the 45 minutes of metallic bangs and rattling...all the while knowing that this series of film was going to be the answer to all my problems.

Little did I know it would only be the Maltese Falcon...the stuff that dreams are made of..but totally useless to me.

Next up was a follow up visit with my neurosurgeon. Who, by the way, is no longer my new best friend. He's just a doctor. Just a guy. Just a man who knows about as much as I do about what is going on with me.

He really had this annoying "I have no fucking clue" look on his face yesterday and I wanted to slap him with his own clipboard. Several times. Hard. All over.

He did tell me that Orville has not gotten any bigger.
What does that mean?
Don't know.
He did tell me that he is doubtful now if Orville is the cause of a lot of my problems.
But what does that mean?
Don't know.
He also told me that I probably should have been sent to neurologist and not a neurosurgeon. He figures that people panicked when they saw this thing in my spinal column and figured a surgeon was the best way to go.
"So does that mean you're going to send me to neurosurgeon," asks I.
"No" says he.
(At least he was emphatic about that last little tidbit of info)

It seems that because I'm on financial assistance, no neurosurgeon will see me. Apparently, they have amended the Hippocratic Oath to include a credit check of all patients.

There is good news to that part of the story though. It seems that someone in my doctor's office, after months of phone calls, has been able to secure me an appointment with a neurologist...for October. 5 months. That seems about right.

My doctor did tell me that if I didn't feel any better or if my symptoms worsened (Worsened?!! HELLOO???!!! My arms and legs are going numb! I'm on constant pain! I have tremors and I stutter!! Worse? Really? Like...oh I don't know...my penis falls off? I cough up a lung? I go blind? Listen, Jackass, if things get worse I'm not going to the ER. I'm coming to your house, going into your garage, grabbing the nearest tool I can find-with my luck it will be a garden rake-and forcing you at...uhhhh...rake-point...to take me to the hospital and fix me damnit!!)

And breeeeeeathe.

So my neurosurgeon can't be any help to me and I have to wait until October to meet with a neurologist who more than likely is going to make me wash dishes to pay off my bill. THAT was the result of my three month wait and my six hours down at the hospital yesterday. Nothing. Zip. Bupkis. Nada. A big freaking goose egg. A steaming pile of poo in my hands and a big "Don't the let door hit you on the way out" handshake from my doctor.

Oh wait. I'm sorry. I neglected to mention the cool psychedelic ear plugs they gave me for the MRI which look so much like candy that I just know that one of these days I am going to pop them in my mouth and swallow them. Then I will be rushed to the emergency room where they will perform emergency surgery. Yes. I did get something out of my trip to the hospital yesterday. A potential choking hazard.

Thank you. Thank you very much.