Retired journalist Wax recounts a recent visit to the doctor with a disturbing revelation.
Recently, I went to visit my friends in the emergency department at Good Samaritan Hospital because, to be honest, the other person who lives with me told me I had to. In fact, my family doctor told me that too.
You see, they were both concerned about the stroke symptoms I had been showing for three or four days. I had trouble finding words, getting them out of my mouth, and to top it all off, I had an episode on Sunday night — while we were watching “Call the Midwife” — where I couldn’t to exceed a single syllable I kept sort of a stutter.
After spending nine hours and 13 minutes in the emergency room, during which I underwent a CT scan, MRI and an assortment of other examinations by doctors, nurses and physician assistants, I was informed that I had an irregularly shaped mass in the front left part of my brain and need to see someone who specializes in neurological and brain issues.
They offered preliminary assurance that I probably hadn’t had a stroke – and it apparently wasn’t metastatic activity from my nearly 22-year-old prostate cancer. Until then, my main medical history was cancer which seems determined not to leave my body. But that little revelation trumped all my other health issues, of which there have been quite an assortment over the past two decades.
For many years I have known that when several of us stared at the last cookie on a plate, I had a cancer card I could play. But now I have an ace in the hole. If I really need sympathy, I can say, “Sorry, man, cancer and a brain tumor.” Sort of like aces and eights: the dead man’s hand.
The immediate result of all of this is that I’m not allowed to drive a car, so I’m driven everywhere by the woman who married me almost exactly 55 years ago. It’s relatively important because she stopped driving a bit some time ago.
Because we’re together all the time, she got rid of her old Honda Civic, and I was driving myself.
It’s probably also worth pointing out here that he’s someone who hates driving with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns (to borrow a phrase from my former colleague, Christina Lent) – largely because of the accident in which she was on I-5 in which a hit-and-run scumbag swept her off the road in her white pickup truck and left her shivering on her shoulder overlooking the waterfront. So driving is a big problem for her.
OK, I’m back now. It’s been a few days since we last spoke.
On Thursday, I had an appointment with my first neurology expert, a Dr. Kuether from Legacy Emanuel Hospital, to determine what has taken up residence in the folds of my little brain – and what we should do about it. topic.
The news, in the end, was good. According to the good doctor, my “tumor” is so small that he doesn’t think we should do anything but watch it. And by tiny, he means the size of a BB.
There’s some sort of larger shape surrounding the BB, he admitted, but they don’t know what that is either. It could be fluid, or airy, or just a ghostly shadow. Anyway, he’s not that worried. And if he’s not worried, neither am I.
I would also like to add that this is a neurological surgeon and in my experience a surgeon’s response to almost anything is to operate. In that case, he says, we’ll do an MRI in three months, and if that BB hasn’t grown or changed, we’ll wait another three months. After that, we can go to every six months.
So can I drive again, we asked him? Yes, he said, adding that the symptoms I had might or might not recur. So he didn’t say my wife should lead the rest of our lives. She appreciated that very much.
I have an appointment with another brain specialist in Tualatin in a few weeks. I’m not a complete idiot, and I know the value of a second opinion. If there’s anything new to report after that, you can rest assured that I’ll be back with the details.
Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if I keep pouncing on that last cookie yelling, “Dibs! Cancer kid with tumor gets it!”
Mikel Kelly retired from the newspapers in 2015 and now spends most of his time consulting with an assortment of medical professionals. In his spare time, he yells at the kids to get off his lawn
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