Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's Going On? Fred? (2)

As the fevers steadily increased in frequency, Shelley and I went to visit my primary care doctor, Dr. Wendy. She agreed that there was something to be concerned about.

I should talk about my lymph system before I go much further. My neck gets sore. I remember swollen glands that came and went in conjunction with the original fevers. When I got sick, my neck hurt. I had a fever. I got antibiotics. I felt better. No more fever, no more tender swollen neck.

But, maybe it never entirely went away. Even before we were worried about the fevers coming more quickly, I went to see Dr. Stephanie Huang, a specialist in the Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgical Group. She did a great, although painful, exam and ordered a CT (cat) scan of my neck. The results of that were 'watch, don't do.' Dr Huang explained that there was nothing alarming on the scan. That any questionable lymph nodes were too small to even stick a needle into for a biopsy.

She thought I might have some blocked sweat glands and put me on a routine of 16 glasses of water a day. This has helped but, not cured, the soreness.

In the meantime, Dr. Wendy ordered a CT (cat) scan of my lungs.

That was alarming! It showed a density, a contour. . . something that shouldn't be there in the right middle lobe of my lung.

We got the news on Friday and Dr. Wendy worked fast. She arranged a bronchosope for the next Tuesday. Dr. LaKander fit me in even though this is not something he usually does. And Palm Drive, Sebastopol's local hospital, allowed it. It was a frightening time but I was held in the arms of the health net of Western Sonoma County-- more than I could take in at the time.

Basically, the doctor stuck a camera with a set of pinchers down my throat into the bronchial tubes that go into the lungs.

The result of the bronchoscope was good news. The doctor didn't see a tumor or anything else to biopsy. He did "washings" of the area and sent everything out for testing and cultures. As the results came in, again, good news. Specifically, the cytology, which is a test for cancer, was negative. The other tests also were not alarming.

As I've come to understand, nothing is really definitive. I could have a cancer tumor outside the bronchial tube which the camera didn't see. I could have the aspergillosis fungus despite the culture from the washing and a separate blood test coming up negative for it. I could have some kind of chronic inflammation in that lobe and, well, is there any test for this? I sure don't know.

I'm calling the problem "Fred." Why? Because I need to have a way to refer to it. Something not too frightening, something different than me. Something that doesn't remind me of any guy I know. Something that feels friendly.

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