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LITTLE KIDS PLAYING DOCTOR
10 August 2012
I have an MRI scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning in Sacramento. As much as I complain about my mother and her reluctance to see a doctor unless she's at death's door, I would never tell her that I am as bad (or worse). I feel fine so I put off doctor's appointments.
But I saw my gynecologist before we left for Europe and she noted the lump on my leg. It's been there for years. A soft swelling which, that day, happened to be warm to the touch. It's about 4-5" in diameter and perfectly round, somewhere between my knee and my ankle. As I said, it's been there for a few years now. It has never bothered anyone before. She wanted me to see my PCP that day, but I said that I had an annual exam scheduled for right after we got back, and she decided that would be OK, but I had to promise to mention the lump to the PCP.
By the time we got back from the trip, I had the knees to ask about, so I was in no danger of canceling my annual exam. We talked about the knees and we talked about the lump. She ordered both to be x-rayed. As I reported a bit ago, the x-rays revealed nothing worrisome, except the loss of cartilage in my knees. Lump was benign. (And for something benign that may present only a cosmetic issue -- it looks weird, if you see it the right way -- I have no interest in pursuing any action about it.)
But the doctor set me up with the x-rays, physical therapy, and an appointment with a podiatrist. Then she wrote to say she had consulted with an orthopedist, who thought we should get an MRI on the lump.
I wasn't concerned because, my only experience with an MRI being many episodes of House, I had the notion that because it was so far down my body, there surely must be a "mini MRI machine" where I would only have to stick my leg in. But no, it's the full tube and it will be 40 minutes and that means 40 minutes on my back. While I am somewhat claustrophobic I am less nervous about being encased in the tube than being on my back. I can't lie on my back for 5 minutes on a nice soft bed without pain in my lower back, which is why I sleep in the odd places that I do (speaking of which, Jeri and Phil have a great couch for sleeping!)
Nervous about this, I wrote to my doctor. Now, my doctor is from Bangladesh and while she is a nice lady, she is not chatty, and actually she is sometimes a bit difficult to understand, so the "not chatty" business doesn't bother me. She gives orders, she does peripheral examinations, and she says she'll see me in a year. She's also very good about answering e-mail, which is how most of my communication with her is carried on.
I mentioned to her my difficulty with lying on my back and she said to take a pain med and it would be OK. Last night I decided to get clarification on this "pain pill" business. I don't do pain pills as a general rule and asked her what she would recommend, asking if aspirin would be enough. Aspiron or Tylenol is the strongest pain med I have ever taken. Her reply was short and sweet:
This afternoon I went into Sacramento to have my monthly lunch at the Olive Garden with my friend Kathy, planning to stop by Kaiser in Davis on the way back to pick up my pain pill.
But I forgot, because that's what I do these days--forget things!--and arrived home, struggling out of the car in the 100+ degree heat and realizing that I would have to go back out again. I read mail, drank some ice water, and settled in a bit but finally had to face the heat and the car again and drove across town to get the pill (I didn't realize she had actually prescribed four pills). This was all ordered at 9 a.m. and I got there at 3:30 p.m. and the guy at the desk says "this isn't ready yet. You'll have to wait."
"Not ready yet?" I said, incredulously. How long does it take to put a pill in a container? He apologized and said that I didn't need it until tomorrow, but I told him that I have to be in Sacramento, 20 miles from here, for the MRI at 8 a.m., before the pharmacy opens, and had to take the pill at 7 a.m. So he said he would "get right on it."
He actually did and had it ready within 5 minutes. He said that the pharmacist would want to discuss it with me, which was fine with me because since I'd never taken a pain pill before, I figured that it would be good for me to discuss it with the pharmacist as well.
Well, I stood there and I swear Doogie Howser came out. This...kid...I know he's a doctor, but he looked like someone who had just left the court after playing a game of high school basketball, looked at the bottle of pills like he'd never seen a bottle of pills before. He ran his fingers through his hair and said that was an awfully strong dose. He read the label again and kind of shrugged and told me that this was going to make me drowsy (don't tell Bev Sykes things she already knows). He then rubbed his belly and told me, apologetically, that I would have to eat something before taking the pill because it might make me...you know...nauseous if I didn't eat anything. I wanted to ask "do I look like someone who is reluctant to eat something?" but decided not to be flippant. He seemed uncomfortable telling me that I would probably also be constipated, but that would wear off in a day or so (pancakes for breakfast!).
So I left with my pills. Presumably Doogie is still rubbing his head and patting his tummy and wondering why I should have such a heavy dose of pain med (perhaps because of my weight??)
Let's hope it works. It would be lovely to have a 40 minute nap in a big tube, though the noise might make that impossible. Let's hope the pain med make me drowsy enough that I won't worry about being trapped in a big noisy tube. And let's hope that the lump really is actually benign and that I don't have to worry about it, medically, again. I'm betting it's a fatty tumor.