Saturday, May 22, 2004

Hard to catch up and make sense, so much is happening, so fast. Maybe I can control it somewhat by sticking to a historic dateline.

My meeting with my Surgeon held few surprises. I was right in my diagnosis.

"Has anyone spoken to you yet?" he asked across his desk, my "Gone With the Wind" file open before him.

I told him about my new Urologist, and the happy news of the planned removal of my stent. I did not mention the fact I knew bout the avulsion fracture of the lesser trochanter, I just told him the Radiologists had waffled and told me they would look over the pictures very carefully and report the results to my Surgeon.

He started with the famous fracture, and we had some light banter about it, where he told me how it works and I confirmed that, Yup, that was exactly how it had happened in my case.

"There was also a bone scan..." I reminded him.

He pulled apart my file and started fanning out the reports across his desk.

Then, he went straight to page two of the bone scan report and read it out at top speed.

Confirmation: metastasis to the bone, not just the lesser trochanter, but throughout the spine.

I couldn't help myself. As he looked into my eyes across the desk, I smiled and shot him my "woman" thing: "I told you so."

"Well," he said, "Nobody can be surprised."

"No," I agreed, "The surprise is it took so long. It's been years now that everyone thought I was metastatic, and I never was until now."

He then went on to say he would like me to consult with an Orthopedist.

"The trouble is..." he added deadpan, "...It's going to be difficult to find someone you like."

He's quite right about that one. He has given me two names, one I don't even want to look at. Call me superstitious, I think it's more like six times burnt, finally shy (careful?). Every doctor I have ever had whose name began with a K has treated me shabby, one way or another.

Professor K in 1944, who had his staff abuse me.

His wife, Simone K, who in 1954 put 1200 cc's of air refill into the wrong slot in my belly, and for weeks I was pushing these great big bubbles of air around under my skin, all over my body, from my arms, to my thighs, my shoulders, my thorax, I could just push them around like some Peking Duck freak. The sheer pain of it, until it was all resorbed.

Dr. K, my Gynecologist, who missed the diagnosis of my first primary cancer in 1980.

Dr. K, the Radiologist who participated in the irradiation of my pelvis in 1982, and who failed to warn me of the probability that I would within five years or so develop another cancer.

Dr. K, the Urologist who couldn't get a biopsy of a tiny, hard-to-reach tumor in my ureter, and who thought it would be an acceptable option to remove the entire kidney, the ureter and part of the bladder, "in order to be able to send the whole thing to the lab and get a diagnosis."

Dr. K, the Gastroenterologist, who allowed his partner to recommend the placement of an experimental colonic stent, without any reservation at all that I was told about, and who allowed one of his students (the same one both times) to perforate me on two separate occasions, necessitating an emergency laparatomy and being sent home, wide open like a gutted fish, and who then had the cheek to say during the post-op visit, "I wouldn't have recommended it, I don't think those stents are sufficiently developed" -- Excuse me! You did recommend it, neither my surgeon nor I had ever heard of the new procedure, and I was the first one, and maybe the last one, done at that particular hospital. This same Dr. K put me to sleep for a routine colonoscopy, when I had specifically told him I didn't want to be put to sleep, and had also told the Anesthesiologist I did not want to be put to sleep, and they had both agreed and confirmed to me that I would not be put to sleep and then they proceeded to put me to sleep, as I lay helpless, unable so much as to move a little finger, watching one syringe after another being pumped into my IV.

I don't know whether this would make sense to anyone else, but I'm done with the Klebers of the medical profession. Let's say for the least...I think, although I recognize I may be wrong, they are "ethically challenged".

Anyway, when I called the second Orthopedist, the receptionist asked me why I was consulting. I told her. She interrupted me abruptly, and said, rather rudely I thought, "Well, you can't see him. He only does shoulders and knees."

Ah, well!

I went back to my Surgeon and left him a message reporting the outcome and asking for another name. So far, no return call.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday I showed up for the joyful stent removal, the one that was going to be so easy and fun. The place was a surgical clinic, super squeaky-clean and attractive, black/grey/white tiles, with all accessories and uniforms a very attractive blue. They have a very hard-working, pleasant and energetic staff of about thirty, two OR's and they are extremely busy. I was there at 7 a.m., everyone had already arrived for duty. By all reports, they usually leave to go home around 7-7:30 p.m. Those are long days!

Well, the super 5-minute deal, in and out and home free, didn't work out that way.

There was an Anethesiologist on hand, and he decided he wanted to put me under. All of a sudden, I was being wired for an EKG, etc. When I asked whose instructions these were, when my Urologist had announced none of this would be necessary, just a little local Novocaine, it turned out it was just the Anesthesiologist's idea. I made a fuss, drew my Urologist's attention and asked that the process be reversed.

"You told me Novocaine would be sufficient," I said, "I agreed, because I've had a stent removed before with just Novocaine and it's fine with me, no problem. If I need sedation, I want 25 and 5, I don't want to be put to sleep."

The Urologist confirmed that in his opinion Novocaine was sufficient and so the decision was arrived at to stick to the original plan. The EKG wires were removed from my body.

Well, well, well! So much for the plans of men and wymin. It turned into an absolute nightmare, with yours truly almost screaming in pain as the Urologist wheedled and tweedled and yanked in vain, the stent could not be budged, and finally, he gave up trying.

So I went home, all shook up and rather disappointed, bleeding like a stuck pig but otherwise OK.

I have to say about the Urologist, "Mr. Geller" of "Friends", that he came out of the whole fiasco with flying colors, if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms.

I am now doing what a Dutch friend of mine, Yoka, a very New Age person, called "putting it out to the universe", that I am looking for appropriate help.

Which is, and only is: quality of life and quality of death. As far as I am concerned, I've had my surgery, I've had my irradiation, I've had my chemotherapy, I've served my stint in experimental this, that and the other. I am not a potato in a bin in the kitchen being prepared for cooking by some grunt with a sharp knife, "This is an eye, take it out; this is a soft spot, don't need that; this looks uneven, straighten it out; this is unbalanced, slash it off; this is hopeless, discard the whole mess."

Enuff of all that.

Last weekend, we had the annual International Food Fair on Ninth Avenue. I didn't have my annual Italian sausage hero this year, or my annual Kilbasa sandwich either. But I did have two smoothies, papaya, banana, strawberry. And I bought my annual "Gardener from Hell's Kitchen" T-shirt. And a $10 cotton batik skirt that I could not try on but that fits like a dream.

On both days, I went to sit on a bench in the 48th St Community Garden, which was at the peak of perfection with masses of giant irises almost as tall as me. Mauve, bright blue, buttery creamy yellow, buttercup bright yellow, and then those yellow ones with outer petals dipped in caramel, and those caramel ones with dark velvet innards promising of deep mysteries. There were pinks, pansies, bleeding hearts, white impatiens, columbines, real roses (not very distinguished, the soil is not good for roses), foxgloves, pyracantha, rose mallows, snapdragons. The American cranberry was in full bloom (virbunum trilobum, rather sickly sweet smell), and the red trumpet honeysuckle (lonisera seperviren, practically no smell), one of my favorites, and the blue wild indigo (baptisa australis). All the peonies were almost there, except one which was in full bloom, smelling of pepper.

They have a website: http//clintoncommunitygarden.org, but the photography really does not do it justice.

Last night, I went to Carol and Larry's for Friday night movie. The "boys" came home very late, but the "girls" started the show on time. Carol let me choose the takeout and I chose Thai ("I knew you would, Carol said).

Carol asked me whether I wanted a glass of wine. I told her I had read all the labels, and they said: "If you drink more than three alcoholic drinks a day, consult with your physician", so I rather thought I could accept just one glass of wine with the food. She agreed that's when she wanted hers too, as she had hardly slept at all the night before.

When the food arrived, the three girls" set up side by side on the couch and when we each of us had food on our plates, we started watching "Ocean's Eleven". When finally the "boys" came home (separately), they joined us and ate our leftovers, and watched the end of the movie.

It was a beautiful peaceful evening. Everybody crashed early and I took a cab home, Larry's treat to me.

Last night, I gave Lydia a beautiful Limoges pendant that came to me from my mother. I told her my father had given it to me when I was about her age, that I wanted her to have it because it was precious to me, as she was to me, and that since I didn't have a daughter of my own, bla, bla, bla. Then I said something about the pendant itself, how old it probably was, it was probably something my mother's grandmother had given her, and I added "That makes it quite old, because even if my mother hadn't died when she did, she still would be dead now because she had her 105th birthday just the other day." Both Lydia and her mother thought this was funny. I think Lydia liked the gift.

I feel very happy at having started the giving away of the things I care about--although, as I laughingly told Carol, I'm not quite ready yet to give it all away and live in a zen-like, empty apartment. One thing at a time, one day at a time, with consistency if at all possible.

I also want to be a better blogger while I'm about it. At some point, it may be of interest to me actually to focus on the evolution of all this, if only because sometimes it feels as if nothing is changing and it's only noticeable that change occurred when you turn around and look back. With a written record, one can become more aware of the glacially slow process of the... continental drift?

Ihath has a wonderful post: "Losing Enlightenment". Thanks, Ihath!

Doug's Dynamic Drivel has a funny one: "Post Turtle". Thanks, Doug!
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