Tag Archives: Summer of Suck

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Eight: Why am I like this?

It starts at Reception.

There I am, trying to ingratiate myself to a woman named Lavinia.  I am late for what I think is my pre op-physical appointment (but subsequently realize is pre-admission which is Not The Same). I am late because instead of going to the Ambulatory Care building for my 9 am appointment, I went to the main hospital approximately six city blocks away.

And I didn’t just go to the wrong building. No. Before I realized my error, I took a guess at which NYU color pathway to follow to which tower to the north-not-south elevators and went to the 4th floor. It was there that I finally thought to look at the calendar on my phone where I had conveniently noted the location of my appointment. Which was at the Ambulatory Care building, not the hospital.

I walked the six or so blocks to the right building, sweating in the heat and humidity as I hustled past morning midtown traffic and the busy entrance to the Queens-Midtown tunnel. Honking cars, whistling traffic cops and damp ol’ me. I searched my phone while I walked, trying to find the right phone number to call to apologize for my lateness and stupidity but my call log is full of various unsaved NYU Langone phone numbers..

When I arrived, twenty minutes after my appointment time, Lavinia smiled anyway which I took as encouragement to become a giant, ingratiating suck-up and try to make her laugh with my terrible adrenal mass gallows humor. I tell Lavinia that my surgeon has promised me six-pack abs once the mass is out so I’m not at all concerned about my surgery.

Soon Lavinia, who giggled at my efforts, has passed me along to her colleague to make my copay. I joke about never knowing if it will be $25 or $45, and ask her to rig things for the lesser amount given that my Flexible Spending Account dollars are a distant memory. I tell her how my recent hospital stay, after I was bitten by a scared kitten, produced a statement totaling $31k. My goal for the day was no five-figure hospital statements.

Baby cat 20160818_120116

Not the biter

“I was hospitalized FOR A FINGER!” I exclaimed in horror and embarrassment, and soon this woman whose name I didn’t catch is laughing hard and bringing her cat-loving colleague into our conversation to ooh and ahhhh over the kittens pictured in my phone who did not bite me in a way that led to my hospitalization. Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0: FAQs

I thought I’d use this little lull before surgery to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions.

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Keep reading to see why I included this pic

Is the mass benign?

We don’t know and won’t have details until it’s removed. The surgeon will not do a biopsy because the mass is nicely contained right now. Puncturing it for a biopsy could release dangerous cells into my body.

So far, my tests seem to be pointing to a non-functioning tumor (meaning it is not making hormones like cortisol). While that makes my surgery prep easier, in that the doctors won’t have to replace the hormones before removing the mass, it doesn’t tell us if the mass is benign or malignant.

Update (9/15/16): my jug test results are in and they are also normal. This means that the mass does not seem to be producing hormones. Here’s what Merck has to say about that. I’m trying to take those stats plus many people saying that adrenal cancers are very rare as good news.

What is the mass made of? Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Seven: White Knuckles

Tomorrow morning I will walk to the subway, hoping no one jostles me and hoping that I don’t see anyone I know. I will wish for a cloak of invisibility.

My worst nightmare, only for tomorrow, is getting mugged. I’m worried about muggings not because that sort of thing is common in Williamsburg (not at all), but because tomorrow, for one day only, I will be carrying a large orange jug full of twenty-four hours’ worth of my own urine with me like some kind of psycho.

Jug 20160901_204326

I still have to figure out how to actually carry the filled jug. Using a brown paper shopping, like when I picked it up, will not be an option. Too heavy (sorry. So gross.). I suppose one of my many drawstring bags from past events will have to be sacrificed for the cause, to be unceremoniously disposed of later when the job is done.


 

Otherwise, it’s status quo around here. Things are dull. I wouldn’t say “normal” because there’s nothing normal about this type of anticipation. But not much is happening.

I have a follow-up appointment Thursday regarding my finger. It hurts each morning when I first wake up, but improves throughout the course of the day. My hope is that the doctor pronounces this as expected because I really don’t want to start another course of antibiotics.

Tomorrow I should also hear the results of my second round of hormone-focused blood work. Round one was “mostly normal?” Yeah, the question mark is the sound of Dr. E’s voice each time we discuss the findings. Only my cortisol was slightly off–just slightly enough that I had to have a three or four more vials of blood drawn yesterday.

Just a reminder: the results of the blood work won’t provide a diagnosis, only a treatment plan as far as the need to replace hormones (or not).

On Friday, I am scheduled to have my pre-op physical. The hospital told me to expect it to take up to two hours so I’m thinking of using a vacation day for that plus a trip to the DMV. Might as well stack the drudgery, right?

My drivers’ license expires on my birthday and NYS now requires a fresh vision test either at the DMV or at a participating optometrist. Between that, my desire for a new license photo, the need to update my address (oops, I’m late) and the fact that I’ll be recovering from surgery when it expires, now seems like the time to do it.

With one exception, I feel like I am managing my new reality a bit better since getting the relative certainty of a surgery date. Having the date in mind, has given me a clear timeline of what needs to get done and by what day.

But I can’t sleep much at night and that’s a drag. My mind won’t rest, wondering about what it will all be like: the incisions, that lousy feeling of being awakened from general anesthesia when all you want to do is rest, the pain, the diagnosis and what comes next. One of my doctors prescribed Klonopin and while I filled it, I haven’t leaned on it much so far. But perhaps now is the time.

 

Summer of Suck 2.0 FAQs

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Six: A Horrible Digression

So there I was, Marc Jacobs in one hand, orange urine collection jug in the other, when I decided some Kitten Therapy was in order.

Baby cats IMG_20160813_161452

Beyond the fact that I was feeling low in spite of efforts to shop my way out of my bad mood, it was hot as hell. PS9 is air-conditioned as well as on my way home from the spot where Uber Pool dropped me off. Stopping in for a visit seemed like an easy call. Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Five: The Giant Jug

If you’re just tuning in, start here.

As news of my adrenal mass started to sink in, I realized it was time to start making plans. I drafted Mom to take care of me (obviously) for the period when I’ll be in the hospital for surgery and immediately after, and I thought about how to tell the people at work. Knowing that I will be out of commission post-op for four to six weeks, I made plans for some essential business travel.

So there I was in Los Angeles, one of my favorite places. It was a productive trip with lots of meetings and a little fun in the form of attending After Paradise again (thanks Millsy!). I met two charming ladies, Catherine Giudici Lowe and Katie Lowes of Scandal, and one handsome man, Samuel Lowe.

 

He’s so cute!

Samuel 20160823_191237 edit

Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part Two: Is this really happening?

First, read this.

After I got the news about my adrenal mass, time seemed to both slow down and speed up.

Cedric had paged Surgery for a consult, he told me before leaving the hospital at 8pm, the end of his shift. I had arrived at the ER around 4:30pm and up until this point, I had been given a steady amount of attention and was rarely left alone for long.

But then I was left waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Drunk Bill Cosby alternately bellowed and snored. Nurses and doctors would move my gurney out of the way so they could access one of the computer terminals. A nurse noticed me quietly crying and gave me tissues. Tiny, thin, papery, terrible hospital tissues.

Continue reading

Summer of Suck 2.0 – Part One: I have an adrenal mass

This is kind of a long story, one that doesn’t yet have an ending so I am opting to break it into parts. Here is Part 1 of who knows how many.

I’m not a Broadway person (other than this really) but recently, I keep find myself rewriting the lyrics to that famous song from Rent.

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But instead of “minutes,” I’d say “blood tests, CT scans and doctor visits” because for the last two weeks, that has been my life.


Things were looking up, mostly.

I went on a fabulous vacation with friends. Though hard, I survived a year of sad anniversaries. I moved to a shiny new apartment and had a trip to Italy in my immediate future. Continue reading