I am dedicating this post to Jessica at Alone…With Cats. I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile but got distracted. It happens. Sue me.
Once upon a time, I discovered a lump. It was the size of a gumball, under my left ear. Like a good patient, I told my rheumatologist because there are a lot of glands there and I figured one was swollen.
Dr. C felt the lump and went “huh…” then he prescribed antibiotics and some prednisone, thinking it might be an infection. We rescheduled for two weeks later. Alas, the lump remained! So he sent me for a CT Scan of my neck. Just to check things out.
I dutifully went off for my first CT Scan. I giggled a little when the technician told me the contrast dye would make me feel like I peed my pants. I appreciated how she stressed that I would not actually be urinating, it was simply the sensation. I left thinking it was nothing painful, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.
Dr. C called within days to tell me that the lump didn’t show up on the CT Scan so there was nothing to worry about there. But…
Oh, when the doctor says “but…” you should run. Run fast in the opposite direction. Apparently the CT Scan caught some other things and I would need further tests. An MRI was required for the cyst in my brain and another CT Scan was required for the swollen lymph glands in my chest.
So a single lump that wasn’t even important enough to show up on a CT Scan instead led the way to other problems! I should have never even said anything about the damn lump!
Off I go for the MRI of my brain. You know. For the little cyst somewhere in my brain! I don’t remember much about the MRI because it was two years ago. I do remember thinking I never wanted to crawl anywhere in a tunnel.
Yes, the MRI confirmed I had a cyst. It’s a teeny weenie cyst somewhere around my pituitary gland, close to the optical nerves. Originally, it was diagnosed as an arachnoid cyst. Arachnoid=spider?! But because there was a cyst and it was on my pituitary gland, I had to see other doctors: an endocrinologist and a neurosurgeon. Just for fun, an ENT was thrown into the mix to check on the original lump.
My appointment with the ENT took 5 minutes. Maybe. Well, I probably sat in the office for four and she spent a minute with me. The best thing about an ENT visit: you don’t sit on a table, you sit in a recliner. She felt my neck. Pronounced it was probably nothing. Explained that my atrophied parotid gland (as revealed by the MRI) was like our ovaries: when we no longer need them, they shrivel and die. My words, not her’s. But the sentiment remains the same. Except I sure could use my parotid gland…
The endocrinologist needed blood and lots of it. He looked like Niles Crane, which was distracting. He checked my thyroid. He poked at The Lump (because by this point it needs an identifier of its own!). He hmmmed and said he needed to see the results of the blood work.
ENT, check. Done with her with no plans to return. Endocrinologist, check. Follow up on blood work. Which required me to go back to the office because…Some blood work was awry. It would require a re-testing in six months.
I went to the Neurosurgeon who was wonderful! She told me I probably had developed the cyst when I was at 28 days gestation. Apparently the cyst (now referred to as The Tumah, ala Kindergarten Cop) was small enough not to require anything other than monitoring. She showed me the MRI of my brain, showing me exactly where the cyst was located. She did add a test for my regular six-month visit to the ophthalmologist: a field of vision test. I needed this test to monitor if the cyst starts pressing on the optic nerve.
The Tumah is taken care of. Just follow up monitoring to make sure it doesn’t grow. Easy peasy.
Time to take care of the swollen chest lymph nodes. Dr. C the pulmonologist looks at the CT Scan of my chest. He points out the lumps. Says they could be a biproduct of the Sjogren’s Syndrome. They could be fat-filled (yippee…). They require monitoring. This Dr. C is the master of multitasking. As he’s explaining his findings to me, he is on the phone dictating his notes for me chart! He did it in such a way that it wasn’t even bothersome.
Dr. C continues to be efficient. He doesn’t need to see me every six months. His office sends me the orders for the follow up CT Scans in the mail, I have the test, he calls with the results. After two years (I think I’m taking my last one soon!) if there is no change in the lymph nodes, they will simply be identified as permanently enlarged, no further explanation required.
Let’s recap. One gumball sized lump in my neck led to numerous CT Scans, one MRI, multiple vials of blood being drawn, visits to multiple doctors. One gumball sized lump led to the discovery of a cyst and swollen lymph nodes.
By the way, the original lump is still there. In exactly the same spot. No one’s sure what it is. At this point, it’s being blamed on the Sjogren’s Syndrome. I’m starting to think the Sjogren’s is a scape goat…