Monday, January 2, 2012

Why M.D.'s are not like you and me....

F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up in the smallest house on the best block in St. Paul, Minnesota. One of his most quoted lines is, "The rich are not like you and me...."

I'd say the same about Medical Doctors.

In the seven years since my prostate cancer surgery and radiation, my PSA (which theoretically should be zero since it takes a prostate to make PSA) slowly crept up. My surgeon had me have body scans and bone scans and all sorts of blood work. When the results were in he told me, with a long face and disappointment in his voice, "I don't know how to proceed since the cancer hasn't settled anywhere...."

I stared at him in utter astonishment. "Well, that could be a good think, don't you think?"

He thought a moment. "Well, for you...."

Having something diagnosable to treat was what he wanted. What I wanted was for the cancer cells to not have settled anywhere!

Just recently, I've been to a dermatologist about a nasty eruption of dermatitis I've had sever times on my forearms and the back of my hands. Really nasty--weeping blisters and...well, you don't need to know all that.

My blood tests, a biopsy and finally a 24 hour urine test. I kid you not.

I went to the lab and they gave me a container that for all the world was like one of those red, plastic things people us to get gas for their lawnmowers in. Except it was orange. And it wasn't for gasoline.

For 24 hours every time I 'made water' I had to do it in this container. (isn't it amazing how many different ways we have to refer to releasing urine: pee, piss, tinkle, water my lizard, relieve myself, empty my bladder come to mind all at once, along with 'making water' which is what I think I grew up saying--all processes of elimination have lots of names...i.e. puke, vomit, ralph, throw up, hurl, etc.)

One of the humbling things was to learn what volume of water I made in a day. I almost filled that container, which was in milliliters and liters so I have no idea what it was in pints since I didn't pay much attention to any of the metric stuff--or, more likely, was never asked to.

I once freaked a good friend out by asking 'do you realize how dark it is inside us?'

He thought I was weird beyond all imagining to think about that. But it's just that the colorful plates that show us what's inside of us are in brilliant colors thought the truth is, there's no light in there. Perpetual darkness dwells within. And all this miraculous stuff goes on each day inside our bodies and our heads without benefit of illumination.

I don't know about you, but I sometimes imagine these little creatures inside me doing the bodily functions things. In the dark! And the guys on urine control are very efficient. (Maybe they have little miner's helmets with lights on them....But then, how do they breathe?...but I digress.

The test was negative--they didn't find the nasty stuff in my day of pee that would have in some way explained these awful skin eruptions.

The nurse called to tell me it was negative. "Doctor wants you to come in as soon as you have another episode so she can take another biopsy. Call us right away."

"But I don't want another episode," I told her. "I really don't."

"But we need a diagnosis," she told me, reasoning with me.

"If it never happens again," I said, "then it doesn't matter if it is 'diagnosed'..."

I heard her thinking over the phone. "Well," she said, "there is that...."

There Is That, indeed....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.