Monday, February 27, 2006

The Trial of Tedium

If Kafka were writing today, he'd write about hospitals. Bob and I spent a large part of today wandering through large medical complexes with oddly numbered offices.

Much medical jargon will follow. If you hate medical jargon, this is your chance to bail.

I had a pulmonary test--which means they wanted to see if my lungs were okay. The test involved breathing into a tube. During my first rounds of chemo, I had some lung damage because of one of the chemo drugs, but I am happy to say that my lung function is normal.

I've done the breathing into the tube thing before, and I really like the pulmonary technician, whose name is Kenny. Kenny was really good about explaining the test results to Bob and me. He's also really good at getting me to do the tests right. It's one of those things where you take a deep breath and then blow air out long after it feels as if there is no air left in your chest. Kenny has the ability to be a good cheerleader without being patronizing.

Then I had a MUGA Scan. As I have told a couple of people, MUGA sounds like something you'd find on an Indian menu. But it's actually a heart scan. My red blood cells were 'tagged' with a radioactive tracer, and then pictures were taken with a gamma camera. I have a fair idea of what that might mean. If you have a high speed connection and want to see what the result of a MUGA Scan looks like (although, thank goodness, not my MUGA Scan because apparently this one shows pretty serious heart disease) click here. If you have dial-up, I wouldn't recommend it. It's not that exciting. I don't know what the results of that test were, but nobody expects problems.

Then we drove up the freeway to another large medical complex and met with the doctor who will do my biopsy. He's very cool. For one thing, he also described me as 'young'. I'm 47. Only oncologists and cardiologists think of 47 year olds as 'young'. The biopsy will be either Monday or Tuesday and involves sticking a tube with a scope on the end into my chest and sniping off a piece of a lymph node. I'll go home after that and they'll send the tissue off to pathology where over five to seven days it will be subject to elaborate tissue staining techniques which will confirm that this is Hodgkins.

I mean, there is a very tiny chance that it is something else, but that would be a malignancy as well, so I'm probably still better off with Hodgkins.

By the time we left the last doctor it was snowing like mad and traffic on the freeway was miserable. But Bob got us safely home.

Tomorrow morning we 'have a consult with the transplant specialist.' Is that not fabulous? I mean, they're going to draw blood from me, centrifuge the stem cells out, and put the blood back in me. Then after I have all the chemo, they'll put the stem cells back in. That's the transplant. I expect transplants to involve ice chests and organs and people having to get places in a hurry. Not sticking blood in a freezer and then thawing it out and putting it back in the same person.

Although it's nice to think of an organ transplant that benefits both donor and receiver.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last part of your post makes me think of the Austrian athletes. I now have a picture of you blood-doped into joy and going into the MRI tunnel in a shiny luge suit. Point your toes.

February 28, 2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was me. Sorry. Haven't figured the system.

Leslie W.

February 28, 2006 12:40 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

My sister, who practices internal medicine for inpatients, routinely refers to 47-year-old patients as "young." Most of her patients are in their 60s or 70s.

February 28, 2006 2:45 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Dr. Dean went so far as to say I was a young 47.

I was rather delighted with that.

February 28, 2006 3:13 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

Forty-nine was definitely young for prostate cancer, and everyone treated me like The Kid. Ambivalence city!

February 28, 2006 7:31 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

On the other hand, when I was pregnant the first time (at the ripe old age of 36) my chart described me as a "geriatric primapara." Made me feel like I should have an ear trumpet and cane, and wheeze a lot.

March 02, 2006 10:47 AM  

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