Neck meat with the cartoid and the holy fuck.

Posted: April 30, 2007 in Calvin, health, Journal

Heh. I just asked Calvin, “Is it okay if I write about what’s been going on with you? With your neck meat and stuff?” He said, “Yeah,” and I said, “That’s going to be the title. ‘Neck Meat.'”

I haven’t been writing about this since it all started because a) we didn’t know what we were dealing with; b) Calvin didn’t want to freak out our family and friends; and c) we didn’t know how freaked out we should be.

About six weeks ago Calvin was bothered by a lump along the right side of his neck (which he refers to as his “neck meat”, hence the title). He figured it was a swollen gland, went to our General Practitioner, and was handed a prescription for antibiotics. Two weeks later, the lump was still there, had grown bigger, and was beginning to hurt. The GP referred Calvin to a specialist, who stuck a scope up Calvin’s nose and down into his throat (yarg), didn’t really see anything, and ordered a CT scan of the area. The specialist thought there was something going on with Calvin’s carotid artery (which Calvin calls his “cartoid”, also hence the title) but couldn’t determine what without more tests.

Of course, we exercised our Google MD’s, and started researching what could possibly be wrong. We found information on carotidynia, and of course cancer and other scary things. I don’t know how doctors do it – the same symptoms can be caused by so many different things.

So. Calvin went and got a CT scan. On Thursday of last week he got a call back from the doctor who said that there is “definitely something there” and that they wanted to get some labs done and do a neck biopsy “right away”. The doctor was rather urgent about it all and said it couldn’t wait until we got back from vacation (then a little more than a week away). Calvin called me at work from his truck, on his way home. He was upset and worried and was going home a bit early. So of course I was upset and worried (and after I hung up with him I went and freaked out a little bit in the bathroom), so I went home early too.

Commence with the freaking out.

To have the medical unknown happen to you is a fucked experience. Calvin and I were both approaching panic, and we started having those conversations. The heavy ones with the life insurance and the will and the “what if” and the “holy fuck”. Conversations that make you assess how you’ve been living your life and the stuff that you’ve taken for granted, and the changes you’re going to make and the light that has been shed upon your blessings.

Any unknown mass automatically makes you think “cancer”. Plus it is in Calvin’s neck and they wanted to do a “fine needle biopsy”. In his neck. With a needle. GACK, much?

We took Friday off for labs, and the biopsy was scheduled for today. We prepared ourselves for a stressful weekend. Waiting is hell, the unknown is worse, plus NECK. And NEEDLE.

Friday morning we went and got his labs done. Then in the late afternoon we got a call from the review radiologist nurse, representing the radiologist who had examined Calvin’s CT scan. She said that the radiologist said a biopsy couldn’t be performed on the area, and that the procedure for Monday was cancelled. She said we’d have to take “a different approach”.

Since she was just the messenger, Calvin didn’t freak out at her. But he very pointedly said that he wanted to talk to the actual radiologist. What does “different approach” mean? Could we stop worrying, or did we need to worry more? What the hell, really, was going on?

More phone calls back and forth. The radiologist tried to get ahold of the specialist working with Calvin, but couldn’t. They discovered what we had been dealing with for the past month – the specialist’s office turns on their phones late in the morning (like, 8:30 instead of the 8:00 that their message claims) and turns off their phones early in the evening (as in, 4:30 instead of 5:00). This particular day (Friday), the specialist just decided to take a day off, and was “on call”. So we, and the radiologist, tried to deal with the specialist’s answering service. To no avail. No call back, no new information, and now we are in further limbo than we had been before.

You can be sure that we’re telling the GP not to recommend this guy to anyone anymore.

We were assured that we would receive more information, and the results of the labs taken on Friday, today. The radiologist was to confer with the specialist, who was to call us and arrange that “different approach” so that we could finalize any procedures that need to happen this week before we leave for Maine on Saturday.

We haven’t heard back from anyone. Calvin has called and left messages. We are owed calls back and assurances and MORE GODDAMNED SOLID INFORMATION. It is complete bullshit that doctors can be this cavalier about communicating with their patients. Patients who are worried, with families who are worried, who just want to know what the fuck is going on. We want to know what we’re dealing with. We want to know if this upcoming vacation should be used for celebration, or used to prepare ourselves.

I want to know what is wrong with my husband.

At this point, a lot of the panic has been replaced with exasperation. We’re still very worried, but hopeful and optimistic and just damned irritated at most medical professionals in general. I will be sure to keep everyone appraised of what’s going on. It’s tough not to write about something that is so primarily on my mind.


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