Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Self-Diagnosis Is Never A Good Idea

Who: Me and a bunch of medical people.
What: I have an appointment.
Where: The Hospital across the street that looks like it belongs on Tatooine.
When: Six-thirty in the morning. Some Monday a couple of weeks ago.
Why: It's about the whole elevated liver enzymes thing.
How: Well.

Walking across the street to the hospital, it occurs to me: I am fucking tired. I am way too tired to be awake right now, and the fact that Dr. Cow Eyes even thinks I need to be here is horseshit, and I'm sure I have cancer and two months left to live. Two months tops. And I'm going to miss Halloween. And my high school reunion. Sure, that would be hunky dory if I didn't already have a supershrewd and foolproof plan to get drunk and embarrass myself. Never did that in high school.

Inside the hospital, there's a security guard behind a desk, so I march up to him. "Excuse me, sir? Hi. Good morning. Umm, I'm supposed to go...I mean, I have a--where do you keep the radiation department?"

He smiles. "What're you in for?"

"Ultrasound," I answer, holding my abdomen, and he nods, smiling broader. "Oh, no, I'm not preggers. It's for my liver. And gall bladder. I guess I have lots of enzymes or something." And cancer. I'm sure I have cancer. From which I will surely expire.

Mr. Security Guard holds the grin and gives me directions, and I follow them extraordinarily well because I'm an expert wanderer.

There's a desk and no people, probably because it's an ungodly hour and even the hospital staff knows it's very rude to be dishing out ultrasounds instead of breakfast. I ding the little bell, and a dude darts his head out.

"Can I help you?"

"Yeah, good morning, I have an appointment for an ultrasound. I'm not pregnant."

"That's okay." Of course it's okay. "Did you sign in?"


"You have to sign in."

"Okay." Silence. Awkward. "Is there like a clipboard--"

"No. You have to go to the front desk." He leaves. Douchebag. I retrace my steps and mosey on back over to the Mr. Security Guard on the other side of the hospital.

"Hello again. Hi. Can I sign in?"

He shakes his head, still grinning, and points me in the right direction. Ten minutes later there's business exchanged once again, where I say "ultrasound" and "not pregnant" and "elevated enzymes" and "probably cancer" about seven hundred times, and the very encouraging Front Desk Lady laughs a lot and slaps a hospital bracelet on my wrist to keep as a memento for all the good times we had. I wish, silently, that I could give her a token in return, seeing as I'm going to die, and our friendship is at a close.

The more I tell myself I'm going to die from liver cancer, the funnier it is. I nod as I pass Mr. Security Guard, who salutes my crossing, knowing our friendship will also be brief.

When I get back to the radiation department there's a crapload of people there, but I only wait for a few minutes before some dude with a clipboard calls my name. He politely introduces himself. I explain to him that I spent all weekend google imaging liver and gall bladder ultrasounds and wikipedi-ing cancer, and remind him several times that I'm fucking terrified. Dr. Technician Guy leads me into this half-lit room and makes me lie down and lift my shirt up before slopping that goopy ultrasound bullshit all over me, and it's cold as balls.

So we're looking at the screen. "I'm going to go over your gall bladder first," he explains, "and I need to you take a deep breath and hold it."

He makes me hold that shit far longer than I thought he would, over and over and over again, clicking away on images. He looks confused, but says nothing. Perhaps it's just his Ultrasound Work Face. Or I have cancer.

"So," I start talking, because when I'm nervous I talk too much, "You think you'll ever get these in color?"

"It measure sound waves," he explains, and does not elaborate.


We do the breath holding thing a couple more times, and I'm just laying there with my hands cupping my boobs, and then I realize that I don't want him to think I'm feeling myself up because he is old and this is not a porno. Besides, if it were a porno, I wouldn't be the star, I would be the disheveled girl they show walking out of the exam room before the real star enters all sexy and ready for lovin'.

"We are going to cover your liver now," he says deeply, and slides the ultrasound detector thingy over a little.

Well, look at that. I gots me a liver. Shiny little thing. "So, Doc," I raise my eyebrows and drop my voice, "is my liver a boy or a girl?"

He doesn't respond.

"You know? Right?" I'm snorting and grinning like a jackass. "Because, you know--crap, I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist. You probably hear that all the time. You know, with like, other people. I bet--"

"I'm sorry, you must hold still." Dr. Technician Guy is not amused by cheap levity. I miss Front Desk Lady.

Glancing up at the screen, I see dark floaty shadows. That looks familiar. That looks bad.

That looks like fucking cancer.

Holy fucking shitballs, I have cancer. Dr. Technician Guy knows it, and he's saddened. That must be why he didn't laugh. I have liver cancer, and he doesn't want to laugh at my mirth and hilarity because he'll develop an emotional attachment to me and be depressed by my unfortunate death, because I'm too young and vibrant to die so soon, and I have cancer, and it's going to be like that Mandy Moore movie, and who am I going to find to marry me before I die alone?


"And that's it," he concludes, scowling slightly, wiping off the ultragoop. "Your doctor will have the results in a few days."

"But is everything--"

"Your doctor will have the results in a few days." He forces a smile.

I leave the hospital nearly out of breath, and go to work. Spend all day looking at ultrasounds of liver cancer online, reading about tumors and completely destroying my hopes for survival. I'm sure I'll be yellow within days. I write this post. I do not feel like joking, or laughing, and I cry a lot. Everyone reminds me that if it were cancer, they would have acted immediately, but I'm convinced the entire medical profession is against me, and I don't listen.

My follow up appointment with Dr. Cow Eyes was that Friday. The day I decided to take a blog break. I don't have cancer. I am healthy as fuck, and will live forever, and she actually smiles at me. Those shadows that I thought were tumors were actually images of my pancreas. I am a dumbass, you see, because Dr. Technician Guy is very thorough, and hooked it up just in case.

So then I decided to take a blog break, went home, and got really drunk.



Anonymous said...

Yay! You're back.....

Sid said...

"I have cancer, and it's going to be like that Mandy Moore movie, and who am I going to find to marry me before I die alone?" Bwahahah. How sad is it that I actually know which movie you're talking about??? Glad to know that I'm not the only one who's this paranoid. I recently googled breast cancer.

Anonymous said...

glad you don't have liver cancer, or pancreatic cancer. i joke around with doctors and medical techs all the time, and sometimes the sorry bastards don't laugh. i then make it a game to see what it takes to make them laugh... passes the time. potty humor rarely works (they generally won't pull your finger... maybe afraid of germs).

Kono said...

This works for me but then again i'm a big hairy monster who they (the medical professionals) most likely think is on parole, i don't say a word, i don't smile, i glare and ask questions with a really shitty tone in my voice, i only begin to smirk when i notice how fidgety they get, then when i ask for painkillers they usually always give in cuz they're afraid i'll go ballistic and trash the office, luckily i don't have to go to the doc's to often, except for my GP and he's top, i'm nice to him cuz you should always be nice to a guy before he rams a finger up your ass, uh wait, that didn't sound good.

Logical Libby said...

I think to run an ultrasound machine you have to have your sense of humor removed.

Schmee said...

dfjkal;dfjka;df Bravo Juli...bravo

OneZenMom said...

You are not even close to being the only person who does that you know - Googling themselves into a medical death knell. So don't be to hard on yourself.

And for the record: Very glad you don't have cancer.

Ginny said...

Ultrasound techs are an inscrutable bunch; seriously, I bet they play poker for fun, huge, ultrasound tech tournaments on the weekends. And they don't need no stinkin' sunglasses or visors.

The bit about giving you a bracelet to remember the good times you'd had? That was Rassles-esque.

Wanderlust Jones said...

Those Ultrasound people NEVER have a sense of humor.

I guess you have to be dry as fuck to look at pictures of organs all day long.

Diseasy organs.

Glad you're not dying. Actually glad is an understatement. I'm fucking stoked.

M. said...

i have never found a blog about cancer so completely hilarious.

it makes me hate you a little bit, for making me laugh at cancer.

Ellie said...

I currently have a cancer on my hand. Fortunately, wart medicine is taking care of it.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

See ? Geniusity oozes from your pores.

renalfailure said...

So when do you get to drink like a champion again?

What would be worse would be if you said "I'm not pregnant" to someone at the hospital and they replied "Not a surprise."

Erin said...

I hope you wear your good-times bracelet to parties from now on. I used to have a party shirt, which was green. Never had a party bracelet.

Awesome post. Just awesome.

Red said...

I had a bladder ultrasound. Weird indeed to be getting one done when you're not pregnant. It made me feel a little sad.

On the upside, I have, waiting for me at home _Teen Wolf_ and _Teen Wolf, Too_ which come on the same disc from Netflix. Year of Teen Wolf!

Anonymous said...

I hate to think that you've been worried all this time...I've been there and it isn't fun. On the other hand, I'm so glad that you're alive and kicking and writing.

Le Meems said...

what does a gallbladder do, exactly.

A Free Man said...

Well, the pancreas is notorious for acting all tumour-esque. It's a fucking drama queen of an organ.

Glad everything's cool.

The Bare Essentials Today said...

First of all, yay! On the negative results.

The Internet can sometimes be a scary place, it's never good to self diagnose cause I'm sure you probably found 50 million different diseases that you could have had! I had to stop going to webmd and permanently block it! lol!

Kitty said...

I hate having tests done, hate it. I always think the worst and am practically planning my funeral by the time I get to the appointment.

Such a hilarious post, Rassles, you always crack me up.

Thanatos said...

I thought I had cancer once. Best part was, but I smoked and drank my arse off till I knew otherwise. And now I've to work on that living a full life thing. It gets dull after a while.

Good to know you won't die Rass, hate deleting feeds from my reader :)

Jessica said...

This is reminding me of the time I donated blood and a couple weeks later they called and said I tested positive for HIV and am forever black listed from donating blood again.

They said "You can go and try to donate it at a different place and they might not know you're blacklisted, but it will never reach anyone. Your blood will be destroyed. So you might as well never attempt to donate again."

But it was a false positive.

Romius T. said...

This was the best post I have ever read on cancer and enzymes. It is the post I have wanted to write on cancer and liver enzymes.

I will write it. one day. When I go see the doctor. Of course, since I have cancer it wont have a happy ending. But then again. None of my shit has happy endings.

Love Romius T.


Dont panic about the love thing. I am not stalking you.

But did you know that spicy hot funions are awesome?