Sunday, December 31, 2006
Not about Wikipedia, part V
So here's what happened when I visited the specialist.
Thursday I stopped at the hospital where I picked up my X-rays and the MRI images. I was surprised to see that it was all stored on a single CD; I later learned that film hasn't been used to make X-rays in perhaps as many as ten years. Yvette and I put the CD in her computer, using the included program to view the images; I had expected them to be a series of jpeg or tiff format files, but they were stored in some format I had never seen, which included features that not only allowed the user to cary the size of the image, but to cycle thru the individual images, moving the cross section of the MRI back and forth.
I went in Friday, expecting to be strapped down to a table and a long needle like an ice pick drilled thru the muscles of my arm into the bone, then spending a long weekend waiting for the result. Instead, this was a preliminary consultation. Yvette and I arrived for the appointment at OHSU on time, waited an hour, then was brought to the exam room where I answered questions. (Yvette had to help her start the program on the CD to bring up the diagnostic images.) A few minutes later, the specialist entered the room with an associate and they studied the images, and discussed them with us. Then explained that he wanted to let his radiology technician (whom he described as his "best person", but not as a technologist) examine the information and offer his opinion. However, this technician did not work Fridays, so it would not be until late next week when I would learn even if a biopsy would be done. After I asked a few more questions, my visit to OHSU was over for the day.
Let me state that this visit was not a waste of time for me. I learned that the lesion was not outside the bone (and thus clearly was not a cyst), but also that the outcome of my condition might not be as seriouis as I had worred about. The possible treatments he mentioned ranged from operating on the bone -- to doing nothing. That means I don't have to worry about losing my right arm -- or my life.
It may not sound like much, but at least now I can eliminate the two outcomes I had most dreaded. That I might die from this, that thing alone, was never not one of them; I'm not afraid of dying because we all die eventually, and sometimes it may be easier to die than to confront the complexity of our lives. My anxiety were about two other, perhaps less important things. One was the intense pain that accompanies this: I'll admit it -- I'm a coward when it comes to pain. The other was that either of these two outcomes could keep me from doing a number of things: raise children and watch them grow to become adults; to be with Yvette; or even to write. I may be embarassing myself by writing this, but the possiblity that I could find it difficult to type competently with only my left hand has led me to wonder sometimes if death might not be the better outcome.