February 12: CT scan
A lovely Norwegian radiologist prepares me for my CT scan. She attempts to insert the needle that will keep the contrast coming during the scan. After two tries, she calls a nurse who tries three times before deciding to call a nurse-anesthetist to give it a whirl. The nurse-anesthetist gets the vein on the third try. I joke about feeling like a voodoo doll, and go home black and blue and sore.
February 19: Two months after this started, I finally have an appointment at internal medicine. More blood tests.
I spend four hours at the hospital today. I finally meet the internal medicine specialists who have been discussing my case. Better yet, they finally see me! I am no longer an academic exercise on paper to them. I am a person in a lot of pain, and I make it clear that I want my life back. The lung specialist (I will call him Dr. Lung) informs me that the CT scan shows that there is nothing wrong with my lungs, (I could have told him that without a CT scan) but that he wants to do a Mantoux test to rule out tuberculosis and some other blood tests to rule out other diseases. He sends me to the lab, where I fill 12 vials with blood. If your poured all that blood together, you could fill one of those pretty little porcelain tea cups. Do these people not know that I am anemic? It can’t be good to take so much blood out of someone who’s anemic! I end up feeling very weak and woozy for the rest of the day and the following day.
Dr. Lung shows John and me a medical journal article about granulomatous mastitis. He has highlighted relevant sections for us. He admits that this is out of his area of expertise, but he would like to examine me. It’s actually rather funny and awkward. I feel like I’m being felt up in a hall closet at a junior high dance. He tells me that he is not used to palpating breasts for medical purposes as he palpates my breasts. “I can definitely feel that there is something there,” he says. (Um. Thank you for validating what I’m going through?) I show him the pictures I’ve taken on my phone as I’ve monitored the progress of this disease. He asks me if I would mind sending them to him for medical purposes, so they can go in my file. Sure. Why not? Wait a minute, did this doctor just ask me to text him my tittie pics? When I do text him my pictures two days later, I can’t help but feel a bit naughty. This is just weird.
I wait another hour and the endocrinologist comes to see me. I wrote about what he told me in a previous entry. He wants to treat this the slow and painful way. I point out medical journal articles that show that mastectomy gets rid of the problem. He thinks mastectomy is too drastic, but tells me that he is willing to listen to my ideas for treatment when I see him next week after my blood test results are ready. At least he agrees that I have a certain right to self-determination over my body, and that he will give medical advice, but will not force any treatment on me. And he wants my tittie pics too.
February 22: Final appointment with Dr. Lung: I don’t have tuberculosis.
Dr. Lung informs me that he is no longer in charge of my care, as I don’t have tuberculosis or anything else wrong with my lungs. He tells me that my case is medically fascinating, and that the endocrinologist will be in charge of my care from now on. He agrees with me that surgery is the quickest path to recovery. He goes over my CT results in detail. They show a severely inflamed breast with an enlarged lymph node in the armpit. There is an abscess under the nipple. (Great, there is diversity in my pathological breast tissue.) The lungs look good, as do the bones, kidneys, pancreas, intestines and stomach. There is a small 12 mm lump on the top right lobe of my liver. There is also a 9 mm funny-looking lump on my uterus and a cyst on one ovary. I should have my gynecologist check that out as soon as possible, and I need a liver ultrasound, but it’s probably nothing, he says. I agree. A CT scan will pick up some strange lump or other on almost everyone! Good bye, Dr. Lung. Should I feel weird that you have my tittie pics?