Monday, July 27, 2009

A Delightful Young Lady With A Truly Bizarre Pathology

It started with a cold.

It was December 2007 and I took the day off to go to the doctor so I could get a certificate and go home to sleep it off. I was snotty and tired and wanted to crash. My doctor asked if I had a thyroid problem and I responded no, not to my knowledge but she asked me to stay longer for blood samples.

Two days later, her office called and asked me to come in to see her in the first week of the new year. I discovered that yes, I do have a thyroid problem and I needed to be on medication to balance out my under active thyroid. She refers me to Dr Rosemary Wong, an endocrinologist who is meant to be one of the best in her field. I, of course, put this off and am reprimanded by my doctor when I go in for my next set of blood tests. I make the appointment and don't get in to see her till May. I should have believed my GP the first time when she said it's hard to get in to see her.Dr Wong asks me a series of questions and then proceeds with the usual poking and prodding. She comments that I'm 'lumpier' than I should be and that I don't breathe properly. She sends me for ultrasounds of my thyroid and lower body bits plus a chest x ray. The place they send me to is run by horrible, disgruntled technicians who really need to quit. I've seen solidiers with more compassion.

 The following week, I'm on Bridge Rd waiting for my tram to work when my mobile rings. It's Dr Wong's P.A asking me to come in straight away as she wants to see me. I ring work and tell them I'll be late and head to Cabrini. Results tell me I have a nodule on both my thyroid and my liver that concerns her and she wants further tests. I tell her all these tests are sending me to the poor house and she kindly bulk bills my consultation (normally $240.00!) and sends me to the Alfred for the tests.

A week and a half later, my gorgeous friend,Di picks me up and takes me to the Alfred Radiology Centre for my CT scan and needle biopsy. CT scan is fine but needle biopsy slightly invasive and not very pleasant. The staff at the Alfred are fabulous and they even send in a woman to hold my hand through the whole process. Three tries later, they collect enough cells to test and I'm free to go. I spend the weekend feeling as if I've swallowed gravel.

The following Tuesday evening, I'm on my way home on the tram and Rosie Wong calls me. Good news,she says. The biopsy is negative and the nodule on the liver is of no consequence. Woo Hoo, I say and feel relieved. "However" she says... oh no, not the 'however'.... "You have a large cyst on your ovary and your uterus is full of fibroids".
The next day I'm back to my GP. She sends me back to the Alfred for another ultrasound using a probe and this is no fun. No one wants a camera crew up the minge or for men, their bottom. Results are sent back to Dr Griffiths who is concerned by the findings. She arranges an appointment with gynaecologist, Dr Grant Saffer who is lovely. He sends me for another ultrasound with his people. Another camera crew up the minky which I get to watch on a plasma screen. The cyst comes up like the full moon.Fark, it's huge. I see all the fibroids. It's a bloody mess in there. I wonder if this is the body's revenge for not conceiving?

 A week or so later, Dr Saffer calls me. He says despite further testing, he is none the wiser and wants a second opinion. He gives the name of 4 gynae's that he feels are the best with dealing with my problem. The first on the list is a Dr Tom Manolitsas. I ring him and get an appointment nine days from then which is pretty good considering the schedules these guys are on. I google him and find out he's on the board of gynae's of Victoria so I feel confident.

My appointment is early on a Thursday so I take the morning off. I fill in the necessary paperwork and wait. A tall, distinguished man enters the room and calls my name. He shakes my hand and introduces himself as Tom Manolitsas. I relax with him immediatly. He has a great manner and makes me feel secure and comfortable. I get the ubiquitous examination and then he gives me the news. He's studied my ultrasounds and has conferred with Dr Saffer and tells me I will be cut open and my left ovary,fallopian tube and the cyst will all be removed. I will require one week in hospital and six weeks recovery. Bugger, I think. I was hoping for keyhole surgery to remove the cyst, a day in hospital and a week at home. Big fat smelly hairy bugger.

But wait,there's more.He tells me he is also concerned with the fibroids and the fact that he can't even see my right ovary in the ultrasound. This can sometimes be nothing,he says and sometimes go away on their own if of no consequence. However, the cyst could end up being borderline which means we're only a suburb or so away from malignancy. Seeing this will be my second time being cut open for the same reason, I make a decision on the spot. I tell him if that's the case, take it all as I won't be coming back to be cut open for a third time. It's all decided: surgery to be conducted on October 31 at Cabrini. He'll send me the details in the post.

I walk to the tram stop and burst into tears. On one hand, I'm happy it's going to be dealt with but on the other hand, I didn't want all the hassle. I gave myself a metaphorical slap across the head and got on with it. Checked with my health insurance provider and discovered they stopped covering Cabrini as of October!! So my other option was Epworth Eastern in Box Hill as Dr Tom only performs surgery at those 2 hospitals. I rang his office and changed the date to October 27- same week, just a bit earlier.

The Friday before the big day arrives. My last day at work for 7 weeks. Normally this would fill my heart with glee but this time it filled me with some trepidation. I caught up with my friend,Andy for a few bevvies and dinner in Chinatown. The next night, I went to Tiki bar to watch a funk band and have my last boogie for a while plus a couple of cocktails. As of midnight, I was on a liquid diet. The next morning I drank the biggest soy latte I could find as I knew it would be my last for a while. I went to the super market and bought some clear juice and lemonade. These would help with the afternoon's activity of bowel prep. I had to drink three litres of this stuff called colonlytly over the space of 3 hours. The purpose of this is so you completely shit your brains out until you can shit no more. I told my house mate to leave the house and not come back till night time! The first litre went down okay, the next one had me gagging and retching,the third a struggle but I had the theme from Rocky in my head when I downed the last glass.

Twenty-something toilet visits, one roll of toilet paper and half a bottle of Dettol hand wash later, it was over. I felt stinky and exhausted. I got into the shower and scrubbed myself clean. I got into my jim jams and collapsed early. Tomorrow was a big day. I woke up early and drank a couple of glasses of water. As of 7am- nil by mouth. I dressed and then packed my hospital case. I got my room ready for when I got home from hospital; clean bedding, tidy room, vacuummed the carpet,etc. My family picked me up way too early as usual and away we went. We arrived at the hospital an hour before my admission time so they drank coffee while I watched them. I couldn't even have a glass of water and was dying! We went to admissions and waited till I was called. This involved a bit of to-ing and fro-ing. First I was called to have my tags put on my wrists,then to meet my anaethetist, Dr Mark Alter. I had an ECG,was weighed and blood was taken. I ended up sending my family home as I was certain it would be soon that I'd be taken to my room. Stupid bitch at the front desk 'forgot' about me and I didn't get my room till 5.30! I was meant to be sent there at 2.30- Dr Alter was horrified when I told him.

I put my case down and lay down on my bed- I was pretty tired by this stage. Not long after, there was a knock on the door. A man entered and said he was Nigel the orderly and he was taking me to theatre. I was told to put on the gown he gave me and get into bed. I did as I was told and he returned with a nurse who took some details and then they both took me down to the pre op area of theatre. Everyone there was lovely. The nurse saw my tattoo and called everyone over to see how 'cool' it was! I had thick,elastic white stocking put on my legs to stop clotting and also to keep me warm during the surgery which was going to be around 2 hours in duration. Dr Alter came over to advise it was time for him to prep me. I was wheeled closer to the operating room and spotted Dr Tom.He asked how I was and to tell me why I was there. I said because I have a large cyst that needs removing along with the ovary and the fallopian tube. He reminded me of a possible hysterectomy and I said yes,that too. Okay, let's do it then, he says and I'm wheeled into theatre. I'm moved onto the table and I start to feel woozy- I didn't even feel the general being administered. I give my glasses to the nurse and then I remember nothing.....

 It's dark and I hear talking. I don't know where I am. I'm suddenly aware of intense pain and start muttering 'my stomach! my stomach!' My mouth is dry and it's difficult to speak-a result of the anaesthetic.I open my eyes and see sillouettes and hear a voice asking me on a scale of 1-10, what was the pain like. I replied 9 and a half. They start administering the morphine until I tell them it's down to a 2. I'm wheeled back to my room and it's all a blur. I manage to ask what the time is and I'm told 1.30am. I'm confused by this as I went into surgery at 6.30pm. I'm woken up every half an hour to have my vitals checked as per standard procedure. I'm tired and confused.

Suddenly it's daylight. I awake feeling pretty good. A nurse enters the room and says she'll be taking care of me for the day. I ask for a glass of ice cubes to suck as my mouth is horribly dry and she gets me some.My first visitor is my friend, Cathryn. She has a bunch of flowers and a bag full of goodies for me to have when I'm able-whenever that is! I'm on a saline drip and on self administered morphine. I have a cathetar and things on my legs to massage them. They are hot and annoying but necessary. She tells me that Dr Tom rang my sister after the surgery to tell me how it went and my sister called everyone else. She asks how I feel about everything and I say fine. It's done now and I felt pretty good (obviously the drugs were doing their thing). Dr Tom comes in and asks how I'm doing and then asks Cathryn to leave the room while he talks to me.
He sits down and tells me that when he cut me open, it was a whole different story. I had cysts and growths everywhere and he had never seen anything like it. He had one of the cysts tested immediatly and was found to be benign - he said it surprised him because it looked like cancer. He's also an oncologist so he would know. He said he had no choice but to perform a radical hysterectomy as there was no hope for anything in there- nothing could be saved. The reason he couldn't see my right over is because it was eclipsed with cysts. Fibroids were growing on top of each other- I even had a cyst growing on my bowel. My 2 hour surgery stretched to almost 5.He said he'd sent it all away to be tested and he would have the results at the end of the week and that he would check on me every day.
 I spend a week in hospital and everyday brings lots of visitors. I have good days and bad days but I feel extremely loved. My room is covered in flowers and gifts and I can't believe how blessed I am. The staff are all great except for Andy,the passive aggressive occupational therapist. If he thought I was hard going, how's he gonna go in a room full of women who have had caesareans? Toughen up,old bean!

Saturday rolls around and Dr Tom strolls in around 10. He's in casual wear instead of his snazzy Italian suit. Everyday he gets less nerdy looking and more handsome. Somedays I think I'm in love with him. He looks at me and says I look great and I say I feel great and I'm ready to leave. He says he'll check to see if my results are back and if they're okay I can go home. He comes back ten minutes later saying good news- all benign. Seeing I'm off the drips, eating solids, no cathetar and only needs tablets, I'm free to go. I ring my sister and give her the news. I'm picked up the next day and taken to her house. It's decided that I will convalesce there. She has a spare room and feels I'm not strong enough to look after myself. I agree but not willingly. Last time I stayed with my mum and she did my head in and I went home anyway. I'm glad I did so. I ended up getting a major infection in the wound and going back to hospital. Dr Tom opened me up again, cleaned the wound and had to pack it with gauze as he couldn't risk sewing me up again. The next day, I had something called a VAC dressing http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cne/resources/clinical_skills_refresher/wound_vac_dressing_change/images/01b.jpg(see link for pic) attached.

I had to wear this heavy thing for 4 weeks-not sexy and not fun! After I was well enough to go back to work, I was informed that I could claim a month of insurance. I needed letters from Dr Tom and he sent not only a letter and the completed form, but the transcript of both my surgeries,the results of my examinations and letters he had sent to Dr Saffer informing him of what had gone on. The letter which he explains the surgery was ended with 'I thank you for referring to me this delightfully young lady with a truly bizarre pathology.I've never been described in such a way before. Goddamn, I think I like it.

7 comments:

dam buster said...

wowsa MM. It is times like that it is easier being a man. What an amazing and honest story. Thank you for sharing it.

dam buster said...

As a follow up... I am intrigued by the Tattoo now!

Margarita Milonguita said...

Oh thanks for enduring such a long post!
Tattoo is an Angelique Houtkamp design of of woman's face and she's holding a pair of tango shoes. It covers my whole lower back.

dam buster said...

No worries on post length. It is not the ort of thing you can put out there in 3 paragraphs.

Cool on the tattoo. I presume only the lucky few get to see it?

Petra ~ Independent Stampin' Up!® Demonstrator said...

Oh my Gawd, I also have thyroid problems with blood tests coming up as all normal hmm.. I've just had a hysterectomy (29.10.09)because of fibroids & had an ovary removed because of the cyst. Tests on the uterus found cancer so now I am seeing Dr Tom to have the other ovary removed. I truly feel for you but had to also laugh as you write so entertainingly. I wish you all the best in your recovery!

Miranda said...

The thyroid is responsible for many functions in the body. Natural remedies like >desiccated bovine thyroid, supports the solid thyroid health helping and balancing the efficient hormone production.

Alison Janc said...

I have just had a consultation with the same doctor today