Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Few of My Medical Adventures

Any time you think that medicine is an exact science, consider me.  

I was feeling a bit punk, so I went to see my PCP for a checkup.  He was a bit worried about my kidneys and told me to get an x-ray.  Since the only x-ray equipment in Alvin is my old x-ray specs, I had to drive to another town, and I waited until the next day.  As I was driving, I got a call from my PCP, who said, "Your blood work is very bad.  I'm afraid you're having renal failure.  You need to forget the x-ray and get to an ER."

So I went home, packed a bag and got to an ER, where I was poked, tested, and given a room.

The next day, the attending physician came in and told me that I didn't have renal failure but that I most l likely had lymphoma.   Because of Judy's illness and death, I blurted out, "What are the odds?"

The doctor misunderstood and said, "About 90% certainty."


The next day, the doctor said, "It doesn't appear to be lymphoma, after all.  You might have colon cancer."


The next day, the doctor said, "It's not colon cancer, after all.  All we can say now is that it's an adenocarcinoma of unknown origin."

Much more gloom.

The next day, the oncologist breezed into the room.  "It now appears that you might have prostate cancer.  That might turn out to be the best option of all.  Well, my flight for London leaves in an hour.  Ta-ta."

Me to Angela: "Get me out of this damn place."

We got out.  The next day.

Angela and her husband, Tom, started pulling strings, and it turned out that they were good at it.  In less than a week, I had an appointment at M. D. Anderson, but even then it took five more days before the prostate cancer was confirmed.  You'd think that would be an easy one to spot, but not in my case.  Nothing is ever easy when I'm involved, it seems.

There are many more harrowing (and funny [not to mention hugely embarrassing], in retrospect) stories I could tell about all this, and no doubt there will be many more.  Maybe one of these days I'll get around to some of them.


Seepy Benton said...

My health was at its best when all I did was visit an old Cherokee medicine woman (Nakai Breen) twice a year.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I know it seems like a good news/bad news joke, especially when prostate cancer is the "good" part, but considering the alternatives, it could be very good indeed.

We all want you around for a couple more decades, at least.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Jackie said your doctor sounds like the one on MURDER IN THE FIRST. A lead character gets a mammogram and is told by her doctor - before she even sees an oncologist - that she has breast cancer and needs to "get your affairs in order."

She didn't have breast cancer.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That is horrible. Move to a big city. Half the men I know (including Phil) have prostate cancer. One of the best cure rates. We are going through much the same thing with colon cancer now. Supposed to be operated on Monday but the doctor called yesterday after C-T scan and said it was small and confined but he wanted Phil to see a urologist since it was near the bladder. So good it's confined but who knows when it will be done now.

Unknown said...

This was in Houston. Even MDA couldn't confirm at first. It's a tough case, I guess. My best to Phil and you.

Richard Krauss said...

Thanks for the recap. Very glad the diagnosis improved over the "adventure." Hope you're feeling better physically and emotionally. Yeah, what Jeffrey said.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Patti, that sounds a lot better and I hope it's right. My aunt, who was a heavy smoker and drank like a fish, was diagnosed with colon cancer and had a foot of her colon removed, but she made a full recovery and continued smoking and drinking for another decade or so.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

We live in a big city, according to everybody we got lucky and have access to the best specialist in North Texas, and they have sent my wife's samples to the CDC at times, and still things go haywire. Some of us are just very lucky to have strange cases that don't fit the run of the mill deal. At this point, Sandi has been honored with 16 different major medical papers on her case. Not really the way one wants to be published.

Glad they now have a handle on this, Bill. Think of you daily and now the same applies to Patti and Phil.

Deb said...

There's nothing like a misdiagnosis to let you know that, even with all our precision tools, the human body is still a mysterious thing. I have an aunt who was treated for back trouble for decades, then she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Once she got her Crohn's medicine straightened out, her back pain disappeared. All those years being treated for "slipped disks", etc., and it was something utterly different.

Re prostate cancer: my m-i-l has a theory, based on nothing more than observation, that man can now live 100 years but the prostate is evolutionarily designed to wear out after about 70. An odd theory, but it might help explain why we've seen such a huge leap in prostate cancer cases as men's lifespans have increased. Still, all in all, the odds are good and you're at M.D. Anderson, do you know you're getting the best care. Prayers and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Todd Mason said...

As cancer goes, and it never goes in the direction of fun, "contained" and prostate are two of the less-virulent things that can happen. Sorry it was such an exhausting route to diagnoses, folks.

Kent Morgan said...

A few years ago eight of us were sitting around having a beer after an oldtimers hockey game and someone mentioned prostate cancer. It turned out that six of the eight had been treated for it in several different ways. The good news is that all are still playing hockey and are well. In the past year two more of our hockey group aged between 55 and 80 have been treated and will be back on the ice next month.

Rick Robinson said...

Pack of idiots with a medical degree and lots of guesses. You can bet they're billing skills are top flight, though. If it's the lessor of the list of diagnoses then that's good. Stick around, will you?

Rick Ollerman said...

I can't even imagine. As long as you get better, Bill...

Howard said...

Steve King, a radio personality formerly on WGN-AM, Chicago, often remarked that it's called the "practice of medicine." That's because they are still working on trying to get it right.

In defense of doctors, it must be admitted that the human organism is a very complicated thing. That said, it might be better for us patients if instead of the latest version of "you have (fill in the blank)", the docs would instead say only that they have eliminated (fill in the blank) but are still working on a diagnosis and more tests will be necessary. Might ease the gloom factor more than a bit. Doctors often seem a little short in the empathy department.

I myself had a recent bout of shortness of breath. Went to the ER and was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. Given medicine, felt temporarily better, then two weeks later went back to the ER feeling much, much worse, and it turned out that not only did I still have acute bronchitis, but hiding behind this, "multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms" (about a dozen and a half small blood clots in both lungs), which all came from a very large deep vein thrombosis clot in my leg.

Thankfully, the pieces of the big clot that broke off were all small ones, or else I wouldn't be writing this stuff.

I was lucky to have some very good doctors. I think you are now in good hands, as M.D. Anderson is widely known as one of the world's very best clinics, and I am quite optimistic that we'll be reading this blog for a long time.

All complaints about medicine and doctors aside, we should be grateful for all the amazing progress that medicine has made, compared to (say) the years of our births!

Today I got the first Dan Rhodes book from the library and I am going to try to read the entire series in order. Hang in there, buddy!

Unknown said...

We all need good doctors, all right. Hope you enjoy the book.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Ouch. Scary story, Howard.

Some years ago I was having problem catching my breath. Of course it was Wednesday, so our regular doctor was off (golf?) so we went to a Treat & Release place. The doctor checked me out and came up with her diagnosis: I had asthma.

I told her I was skeptical I'd suddenly developed asthma at 62, but she insisted yes, it was definitely asthma. She gave me a breathing treatment and sent me home with a (free) machine to use at home.

Next day I called my doctor, the mildest-mannered guy in the world, who never raises his voice and he went nuts, screaming that I did NOT have asthma (which I already knew). It was an upper respiratory infection.

Later I spoke to another local doctor and he told me this woman is notorious in the neighborhood. No matter what is wrong with a patient, she diagnoses asthma.