Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Urine Luck

The other day, in an attempt to get a diagnosis for my unruly neck lump that I'm pretty sure is growing by the second, I was sent for labwork.
Now, I know plenty of people who are afraid of needles, or can't abide the sight of blood. I'm not like them, and have tattoos and donate blood regularly. Bring the needles on, but stay the hell away from me with your Band Aids or medical tape.
For some reason, I have a completely irrational fear of the sticky stuff Band Aids are made of. Possibly because I spent some time in a cancer ward where nurses covered me with Band Aids many times a day. Having them removed for more injections was sheer torture, and truly my only clear memory of what was an otherwise hazy couple of weeks spent mostly unconscious. For real, the spinal tap was barely a blip on my radar, but the incessant pulling off of bandaids? Terrifying.
Possibly the fear is simply because I'm insane and have odd phobias completely unrelated to reality.
Either way, I typically dread having labwork for the sole reason of not wanting tape or a Band Aid after the blood draw. This lab, however, used some sort of magical non-sticky wrap to hold the little gauze square in place, and suddenly I knew which lab I'd be using for the rest of my life.
The part of the testing that tripped me up this time was the urine sample.
Not like I don't know how to pee- after all, I've been doing it since birth, and I even needed to, so actually giving a sample wasn't the problem.
The issue is knowing how much of a sample to give.
This seems like way too much.
Too much and I look over eager and like I can't control my bladder or urine stream or whatever the lab technicians are judging me on based solely on the amount of urine in the little cup. Too little and I look like a weakling who can't even give a proper sample. Besides, I have no idea how much urine a lab actually needs to do whatever it is labs do with urine.
How embarrassing would it be to be called in again simply because you didn't give them enough pee? Like you're the dim-witted child who can't follow simple instruction and are incapable of getting something as basic as peeing in a cup done properly.
What would be super handy is a line on the cup. Or actually, two lines. One for the bare minimum required to perform the test, and another that means "anything over this is overkill and looks like you're trying too hard."
Really, I wonder why no one has thought of this before, because I'm quite sure I'm not the only person who has ever dumped out half of their sample because they were sure it was simply too much.
Of course, then you run the risk of dumping out too much and needing to provide more and being unable to.
You see the problem with the current system?
This following unclear directions is exhausting and completely bananas. I need to be told precisely what to do and how to do it, usually eleventy dozen times. Unless, of course, it's written down, like a mark on a cup. Then it's just a few dozen times.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Step One: Discover there's a problem

The other day, in an ongoing effort I'm making to take better care of my body, I went to a routine doctor's appointment. It was basically to get established as a patient, because even though I've lived here for coming up on three years now, I've not been to a medical doctor.
I guess I thought all the head shrinkers I see on the regular were enough or something.
The first part of the appointment went very much like every doctor's appointment I can remember: he told me to quit smoking, lose weight, and keep being awesome.
Then came the touchy feely part.
Attired in a super fancy paper gown and my knickers, I waited patiently for the doctor to stop palpating my neck and start listening to me breathe.
Only he palpated. And palpated.
And then said, "How long have you had this lump?"
I responded with "What lump?" and then the discussion began.
I've a lump in my neck. While it's probable that it's my thyroid, he was also concerned that it was so large and not as uniform in shape as he'd expect.
So, tomorrow I'm headed in for an ultrasound, possible CT scan, and some bloodwork.
I was doing a relatively decent job not freaking: I knew WebMD would tell me I had died last week, so I avoided it. I verified that hypothyroidism is treatable with medicine, something I'm an expert at taking, and that was the extent of my research.  Looking for answers when you don't yet know the question is the surest route to madness. This I've learned the hard way, so this time I was determined to take the wait and see approach.
Until I went to see my head shrinker the day after my appointment with the medical doctor, and we went over the labwork she'd ordered about a month ago. I'm vitamin D deficient and my cholesterol is a little high, but my thyroid is functioning beautifully, according to the bloodwork.
So, why's that bad? Well, it's good for my thyroid, but that means it's more likely that the mass I can see, now that I'm aware of it, isn't my thyroid as the bloodwork, in all likelihood, would have been abnormal, and mine wasn't.
Even though it's tempting, I still haven't jumped head first on the cancer train, so I'm trying to mantain some semblance of composure over the whole thing, but here's the deal:
Whether it actually is my thyroid, a benign tumor, cancerous, or some sort of cyst, it's not going to be a good thing. I'm not going to be able to ignore it or pretend it isn't there- it's causing me to be hoarse and if it continues to grow unchecked, will undoubtedly cut off my air supply. The severity and course of treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis, but it's never going to be like a doctor feels you up and says "Oh, you have a growth! Congratulations, you're getting xray vision and the power of flight!"
There's never a time when having a lump or bump or mass in a place where you haven't always and aren't meant to is a nice surprise.
That's pretty much bullshit, if you ask me.
If we have to worry and wait and wonder, we ought to at least have the tiniest fragment of a possibility that something good might be behind our anxiety. 
Like, when someone tells you "We need to talk," it's almost never a good thing, but every once in a while they want to tell you that you've won the lottery or something. Having some sort of extra bit somewhere on your body will never be like that.
It's not always deadly, it's not always painful, it's not always incurable. But it's never welcomed as a fun surprise.
And that's bananas.