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"

1 comment:

  1. I have a difficult time believing, in this day and age, in the Year of Our Lord 2010, with technology so incredible that we can create AI-enhanced videocameras to plumb the depths of our circulatory systems and miniature balloons to shore up our weakened arteries, and artificial corneas and eardrums and all manner of other replacements or enhancements for our organic components, along with fantastic instruments to probe the inner depths of our structures, that a physician does not have at his disposal a method of identifying and repairing (or removing) an anomaly such as you describe within moments after the sufferer enters his office. Where is Dr. McCoy when we need him?

    I am reminded of Jubal Early's comment to Dr. Tam in "Objects in Space" (from the excellent and much-missed Firefly series): "They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don't make a surgeon get cut on. That seem right to you?"

    No, it don't seem right to me. Seems to me a doctor ought to experience serious physical pain, mortal fear of death, and unbearable uncertainty as to their future at some point in their education they'll understand what's going through the patient's mind; then perhaps they'll have a bit more compassion for them what's on the other end of that stethoscope.