A To Z Challenge – X

april-challenge

I’m going to dip into the healing waters of medical treatment, and for the letter

Letter X

I’m going to talk about Xrays.

X-Ray

Once upon a time, Doctor Kildare, or Marcus Welby MD would hold your TV hand and solve your medical problems with a reassuring smile. More recently, Dr. House proved that a good doctor could achieve the most baffling diagnosis in a single episode.

THEN THERE’S REALITY

About a year ago, the wife developed a cough. Not a cold – a chronic, hacking cough.  After a week, she also got a sharp pain in the muscles of the bottom ribs, below her right armpit.  After another week or more, the cough was still with her, and the pain in the side got worse.  Neither of us was sleeping.

She called her doctor, and got an emergency appointment. He listened to her, (maybe) and told her to go for an X-ray.  The next day, Wednesday, I took her to the lab.  The doctor was to be faxed the results.  No call from the office on Friday, or Monday.  On Tuesday, she called the office, and the clerk told her that he had not found anything on the X-ray….and had gone on 2 weeks holidays.

The next day, the son dropped her off at the emergency ward at 8:00 AM. I didn’t get a call to pick her up, but went down after lunch to find her, and dug her out about 4:00 PM.

An eight hour stay, and, despite her telling them that the pain was in the muscles of the lower, right chest, they insisted on taking another X-ray, to check for a heart attack.  When that showed nothing, they wanted to do a CAT-scan, to check the lungs, but she’s allergic to the dyes that they’d use.

They decided, instead, to do a Gamma-ray scan.  This showed that, because of the pain, she wasn’t breathing deeply or strongly enough, and the bottom lobes of both lungs were developing fluid.  Not finding any cause for the sharp pain, they released her.

The next day, I took her to the ‘Medical Group’, for a clinic-style, first-doctor-available visit. We got a kindly, retired English doctor, recently moved to Canada, and willing to make a few bucks by filling in part-time for the likes of the one on vacation.

He actually listened to her, and quickly found the source of the pain by reaching over and palpating (touching) her, something that no doctor, nurse or technician had done. He wrote a ten-day prescription for a broad medication – something with a powerful painkiller, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory.

He told her to take the pills, and wait another week and have yet another X-ray taken, and book an appointment to see him a couple of days later.  The pain quickly disappeared, and she (almost) stopped glowing in the dark.  When we went back to see him, he still couldn’t find anything in the results.  Of course not! It’s a soft tissue injury.

After three X-rays and a Gamma-ray scan within two weeks, it still took a British Marcus Welby-like fill-in doctor (doubly-named Dr. John Brodie-Brown), relying on his touch and intuition to solve the problem by treating the symptoms, rather than with shiny tech-toys.

A week later, I was reading the blog-post of a lady bicyclist. She wrote that she had developed the same symptoms as the wife.  A doctor diagnosed it as ‘costochondritis’, an inflammation of the nerves that control the breathing muscles.  It’s known, but not common, among people like bikers and runners, who gasp and pant for extended periods.

Even with the best of treatment, (Which very few of us ever get) it is still often up to us to diagnose our own problems, and insist that we get full and proper care.  😯

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Empathy Thrust Upon Me

Medicine

Of all the things I hoped to be when I was young, a wrinkled bag of aches and pains wasn’t one of them.  Some while ago, BrainRants, a mere stripling in his mid-forties, published a post about all the pains and strange body noises he was accumulating.  Bloody amateur, just wait till he moves up to the pros.

Through a confluence of good genes, a relatively physical lifestyle, and a modified Mediterranean diet, I am far healthier than many men my age.

Several years ago, a doctor at a clinic remarked to the wife, “You have a lot of things wrong with you.  Nothing that will kill you, but a lot of minor problems.”  Between prescription meds and supplements, she downs 20 to 25 pills a day.  She has a general surgeon who has removed a couple of skin growths, a urologist, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist and an osteopath.  I drive her to a cancer clinic and an airway clinic for monitoring.

Until recently, I was exempt from all that.  I had sympathy for her, but didn’t really know what she went through.  All that has changed.  It started innocently enough, about 15 years ago.  She convinced me to take an antihistamine each morning, for allergies.  Then it was a Vitamin B tablet.  I don’t know what it does.  I don’t ask. I am a husband, Yes dear, Yes dear.

Vampire

Next was Vitamin D, I took a tablet a day.  Last year’s blood test revealed that I am low on Vitamin D.  It has to do with my vampire lifestyle schedule – up all night, sleep all day.  I don’t get enough sunlight.  (It burns!  It burns!)  The doctor insists that I take two.  I take a multivitamin tablet laced with something to keep my retinas from deteriorating.

This year’s physical revealed that I have ‘Old Man’s Disease’, my prostate is swollen.  It also showed that my thyroid is running a bit slow.  Perhaps that’s a small part of my weight gain.  I am now taking medication for both of those.  Only ten pills a day, 9 of them before breakfast, and a heavy-duty pain pill a couple of hours before dawn, to help me get to sleep.  I now take four ‘little blue pills’, and not one of them made by Pfizer – although the doctor did offer me Cialis.

I’m on a call-back list for a Neurologist, from my eye problem of a couple of years ago, but my Ophthalmologist visits are down to once a year.  My long-time Optometrist recently died suddenly, but I’ve found a nice young female replacement.

The duct of a fat gland in my back stopped up and it swelled a bit.  Nothing to worry about – until it infected and grew as big as half an orange, making it difficult to sit or lie down.  It burst before I got to see a surgeon, but now I’m on his call list, because another gland is swelling.

Because of the enlarged prostate, I have an appointment to see a Urologist.  I’d sooner suffer another colonoscopy.  You’re going to push what, up where?  I’m waiting for an appointment with a Dermatology surgeon because I have a couple of suspect skin growths.  I have yet to acquire a Rheumatologist, although the most recent spike of incipient arthritis had me barely hobbling for a week.

I have had empathy for the wife and daughter (and any of the rest of you who suffer these accretions of ‘minor’ problems) thrust upon me.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it
ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot
of your time.  What do you get at the end of it?
A death. What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first; get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get
a gold watch when you go to work. You work forty
years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement!

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you
get ready for high school! You go to grade school,
you become a kid, you play, you have no
responsibilities, you become a little baby, you
go back into the womb, you spend your last nine
months floating…you finish off as a gleam.

Here’s hoping that my list of pills and specialists doesn’t grow to match the wife’s, but even if it does, it beats the alternative.  (Did I mention that my ass gets sore from sitting at the computer too much?)