I met my surgeon – let’s call him Dr. S – the day after my adrenal mass was found. Dr. S is the head honcho of surgery for a big NYC hospital but the only surgeries he does are on adrenal glands. I’m told specialization is a good thing.
As a patient, I have noticed that you tend to be treated differently once you get a scary diagnosis. Impossible scheduling matters are overcome. Receptionists act less frosty (for the most part). My endocrinologist (Dr. E), who has always been terrific, gave me her cell number; I already had her email.
But the mundane parts don’t change. Dr. S’s office isn’t any more high tech than that of my other doctors. And given that he treats people like me all day, every day, Dr. S doesn’t seem all that impressed or concerned with my condition or the impending surgery. I suppose that is a good thing.
The appointment was relatively brief. He confirmed that the mass is large and has to come out surgically. He pointed out how the mass has physically displaced my left kidney, spleen and pancreas which explains my appetite extremes, periodic heartburn and nighttime bathroom trips, but not the abdominal pain that sent me to the ER in the first place.
Looking at my CT scan images with me, Dr. S said surgery could wait–until after his vacation and mine. He said I could workout and essentially live normally. Interesting.
Dr. S also confirmed that doing a biopsy of the mass was a big no. The mass is “self contained” and, if cancerous, a biopsy could release malignant cells into my abdominal cavity. Got it.
So while he did say the C word, he seemed, well, neutral or at least non-committal about the future diagnosis.
Before surgery could be scheduled, Dr. S would talk to Dr. E about the necessary pre-op tests. Most importantly, blood work to determine if the mass was functional would be done. Those results would not provide a diagnosis but would allow the doctors to prepare to replace hormones if needed.
My appointment with Dr. S was on a Friday. On Tuesday I went to Dr. E’s office to start the blood work. She then called in a prescription for the one pill would take that night before returning for the second part of the blood work.
A key element of the blood work is comparing my hormone levels pre and post pill. The results, I was told, would take a full week.
In the meantime, I had received a follow-up call from the ER. While most of the attention had been focused on my adrenal gland, nodules had been found on both lungs and the source of my abdominal pain was still unclear. As a result, more doctors appointments and more tests would be needed. That week, I spent part of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in some sort of medical office.
Based on the hospital’s location, getting there feels like a grind. But there’s no use complaining. We are just getting started.