Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So...I'm sitting here...with this stupid, florescent green band-aid wrapped around my arm over the spot where they took more blood today. It's my prize for enduring another long day at MCV. There's a Snoopy motif on the gauze-like material, so it's not a total loss.

And at least there was air conditioning in the hospital. My guess is that it is probably a law. Good Lord. It had to have been 150 degrees outside today. I actually saw a pigeon burst into flame as I walked through the parking deck on my way to my appointment. The poor thing landed on the smoldering pavement, staggered for a second, and then just disappeared in a flash of flame and smoke. It was spectacular. Kinda like the Death Star exploding at the end of Star Wars.

The day was like all the others I have had over this very long year.

I waited in the waiting room on the 5th floor, sitting in those God-forsaken uncomfortable chairs, reading the same lame magazines (Sean Connery was People Magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year in 1989...I'm just saying) that were there the last time I was there and wait for my name to be called.

And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. All the while thinking back to the night I was in the emergency room weeks ago when I was told how imperative it was I see a neurologist.

Within 5 days. Famous last words.

The memory of the voice reverbs in my head like the screeching voice of Carrie's mom in CARRIE.

"They're all gonna laugh at you! They're all gonna laugh at you!"

That sense of urgency rang in my ears. So I was anxious. I just wanted to get into an exam room and have answers. Having learned my lesson from my last visit, I was going to get my hope up too much.

I sat there fingering the straps of my knapsack and staring at the faces of all the people around me, trying to figure out what was wrong with them. And they were doing the same. Sometimes our eyes would meet and we would smile and then look elsewhere.

Finally I heard my name. Or something that sounded like my name.

I am 45 years old and have heard my last name pronounced pretty much every way it can be pronounced. Well, at least I thought I had. I'm not sure what nationality the woman who was calling my name. Maybe she was Chinese. Maybe she was Vietnamese. Tibetan? I'm not sure. All I know is that she took mispronouncing my last name to a whole new level. It's only because I recognized "Jody" that I answered. Even though I was still in the middle of filling out my five pages of forms, I walked towards the back with her.

After we walked back to the little cubbyhole located in the middle of the long corridor of exam rooms she had me step on a scale. Next was the blood pressure cuff. Then 20 questions. All the while I continued to fill out the paperwork I had been given by the receptionist.

As I starting checking 'yes' or 'no' the little woman to my left starting asking me questions. Normally I wouldn't mind someone asking me questions about myself but these were the same questions I was answering on the forms on the clipboard on my lap. Word for word. THE EXACT SAME QUESTIONS!

This is the stupid shit that drives me crazy. Besides, of course, my doctors not being able to help me. It's the insane things like that that make me think I'm in an episode of SEINFELD.

"These pretzels are making me thirsty!"

I would see a question on the form in front of me:
"What medications are you currently taking?"

And the nurse standing a foot away would ask me:
"What medications are you currently taking?"

"Hello Newman."

I would see a question on the form in front of me:
"List any allergies you may have to any medications:"

And the nurse standing a foot away would ask me:
"Do you have any allergies to any of the medications you are taking?"


Fun is fun but I was eventually taken to an exam room to meet with a doctor. Or a resident. Or an attending. Or The Head of Neurology. Or Professor Plum in the Library with the rope. I don't even know any more. I've met far too many people in white coats.

Maybe I would remember them better if I felt like they were helping me more. Instead it's just been an endless line of white coats and faces. I kinda felt like a chicken at the Perdue plant. Without the plucking of course.

So the doctor came in and it was more of the same "blah blah blah" and "let's look at your last MRI and talk about what we can't do for you blah blah blah blah nonsense."

For added drama and frustration, The Head of Neurology was brought in to look at the images of my last MRI.

He squinted. He shrugged his shoulders. He sighed. Then he turned his body to face mine and told me that he couldn't tell me conclusively what was wrong with me.

I wanted to punch him. And I almost did. But I figured prison medical services are worse than what I am experiencing now. So I just there and nodded. And I listened to reasons as to why they couldn't help me. A minute into the conversation, my own inner monologue was already running.

Here's what I heard when I was listening.
Which means...here's what they said they think they know:

1. Orville has not gotten any bigger. And, depending on what slice of my MRI you are looking at, he is either there or he is not. (I don't want to be the one to speculate that Orville is capable of movement or that he is camera-shy, I'm just relaying the information I've been given.)

He's shy. Isn't that just a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e?

2. Orville is located in a very dangerous spot in my spinal column. The same spot which regulates all of my really important life functions. Like breathing. And my heartbeat.

3. Unless, my life is in danger (ie. Orville's growth is impeding on my breathing and other life functions and I'm going to die any way) no one at MCV is going to be cutting me open any time soon. It's just too dangerous. Too risky. I risk either being a quadriplegic or dead. And yes. Those are my only two options. There are no other options. None. No! Don't ask me again. I'm serious. I'll slap you if you even look like you're gonna ask me if there are other options. There are no other options.

It's like going to a restaurant and being asked by the waiter "Chicken or fish?" and then finding out that those are really the only things in the kitchen. Chicken and fish. Nothing else. There's chicken and there is fish. There's a stove, some utensils, a sweaty guy in an apron named Jose, a can of Old Bay seasoning and... that's it!

"We got nothing else! CHICKEN OR FISH! WE GOT NOTHING ELSE!!"

Dead or a quadriplegic. GOD.
Whatever happened to Door Number 3?

So here's what they are speculating on:

1. I may have had Orville all my life.
2. Drugs may be the answer. We (and I say 'we' but seriously...I didn't go to medical school so I'm not sure I should be included) don't know what the question is, really, but drugs may...Shit!...let's go out on a limb here...drugs are the answer to your problems.

And finally here's what they are going to do:

1. They're going to prescribe me more drugs.
2. They're going to perform an EEG.
3. They're going to see me in a few months.* (please see below)

*I was initially told that my appointment would be in December. I'm sorry but that doesn't work for me.

(And...by the way...that's going to be a t-shirt I am going to have made. I'M SORRY BUT THAT DOESN'T WORK FOR ME. I'm going to have thousands printed and make millions. I can see it now! There will people lined up in doctor's offices all wearing my t-shirt. It's genius. Pure genius.)

Anyway, the young girl then told me there was good news. I didn't say anything, but I had that look on my face. You know the one. The "you've-got-to-be-kidding" face. She told me a new doctor was coming on board and he was going to be taking on some of the patient load. I feel bad for her because she was excited and was trying to get me excited like she had circus tickets for me but unless she was going to tell me she had an appointment for me for next week, nothing was going to float my boat or pop my cork. Undaunted she added, that with any luck, I would be seeing a doctor some time in September. The 'sometime in September' part was where she lost she lost me for good.

This is what our medical industry has become. A deli.

You go medical help and they give you some baloney and a number.

It doesn't matter that you're standing there with your spleen in your hand. Here's your number. There's your chair. We'll see you in September.

"What's that you say? You've had a headache for a year? You're losing feeling in your hands? We're so sorry to hear that. Here. Take this plastic number. And these drugs. We'll see you in September.


and that's jody with a 'y'


  1. I am never going to see a doctor again for the rest of my life. Unless they can prove to me that they are making decisions based on absolute, irrefutable fact and not on random guessing. How many years have we had all these technological, medical marvels? And why does it feel like they are still trying to read tea leaves and chicken bones to figure out what is wrong?

  2. Did they not consider radiation? Surely that would be safer than surgery... but then again, Shirley probably doesn't work at MCV. :-(

  3. Doctors are much like the auto mechanics of the body. They listen to what your "vehicle" is or isn't doing and for the most part guess from those symptoms may be wrong and try to treat it one dx at a time (I watch house and work in admin portion of the medical field now). Yes there are some tests they can run to try to be more sure they are correct, but when the tests come back inconclusive all they can do is "take another whack at it" it seems. Its the lack of urgency here that is just amazing to me.