Thursday, September 14, 2006

the swirling vortex of medical care

Ah, September, when the kids are in school and I spend the month in doctor's offices. Just when I want to kick back and relax, I am sucked back into MedWorld by having to run the annual cancer test gauntlet.

This year, the thyroid cancer checkup was a little earlier, and in Houston. Both the ultrasound and the nuclear scan were negative, but my tumor marker, Thyroglublin (Tg), did uptick a bit -- so we'll keep an eye on it. Amusingly, I just received my schedule for appointments in August 2007. Efficient!

I had my dilated eye exam, which went fine as usual. (The idea of developing melanoma behind an eye is really too creepy to contemplate.) My eye doctor was as shocked as I was that an entire year had gone by. He was happy to hear I was just there for a checkup and not for a problem -- "Why is she back so soon, didn't I just see her?" My eyes continue to perform better-than-average, which is such a blessing.

Next up, I saw Dr. T, my dermatologist, who didn't find any spots that needed biopsy or even extra monitoring -- don't have to see him for another six months. He didn't chide me for being tan, either.

The only remaining test is my mammogram. I had my annual GYN exam this week and complained about my breasts feeling pre-menstrual all the time, for a good six weeks now. I expected to hear, "Oh, that's hormonal, and normal at this phase of your life." Well, I did hear that, but with regard to the inordinate amount of hair I seem to be losing these days. Shedding, I am, but apparently, that's normal.

Apparently it's not-so-normal to have PMS breasts for six weeks running, and with my family history (not to mention being left-handed and having thyroid cancer), the doc ordered up a diagnostic mammagram wherein they take a lot more pictures. Oh, joy. Even better? The facility couldn't schedule me for the test until November 2, which means I get to walk around wondering what's going on there. One possibility is fibrocystic breast condition, which at least one of my sisters has (I think, I have to call and ask.)

But that's not all... I dragged myself to the dentist yesterday because one of my lower incisors has been nagging me for a while. I'm scheduled for a cleaning in a couple of weeks, but I didn't want to wait that long. It wasn't just the tooth that's bothering me, either: I saw Dr. O, my ENT, last week for the persistent sinus infection/sinus headaches I've been having. Lo and behold, I've got a pretty severe case of TMJ which may be causing both the tooth pain and the headaches. (Two nights ago, I felt like someone was driving a nail into my skull at the point between my right eye and the bridge of my nose.) Dentist confirms there's something going on there with the tooth, so I'm scheduled for a root canal next week with the fancy-schmancy endodontist. And the week after that, I get to see the TMJ specialist guy.

The TMJ pain was hard for me to recognize as joint pain, because my salivary glands have been acting up: my face hurts, and it's not easy to tell whether it's the salivaries that are swollen and clogged, or the jaw muscles right behind them that have stiffened up. I wear my retainer, which has a bite guard in it, every single night, so I don't know how I ended up in this condition. (I had it once in college, and I had it again before DD was born, which led me to getting braces - again - and now having the retainer.) I wonder if the whackiness of the salivary glands is contributing to the TMJ pain. I doubt there is any way to get an answer to this question.

Last: poor Alice has been coughing and sneezing, and Cooper needed his vaccinations, so we took both kittens to the vet yesterday. Now Alice is on anti-biotics. How odd that all three females in the house would be on anti-biotics at the same time for more or less the same thing.

This looks a lot worse in print than it is in reality. Yes, my face hurts a little (about 4 on that 1-10 pain scale), and my tooth is about a 2-3, but I'm used to that level of pain and have been dealing with it. The breasts are about a 3, also. So you see, none of this is remotely disabling. It's all just annoying and a little tiring. Fortunately, the mega dose of naproxen sodium that Dr. O prescribed for me is doing a good job of keeping the pain, if not completely manageable, at least at a level I can ignore most of the time.

In the meantime, I just pretend that it's not there. I've spent a lot of time over at the school helping out, and I love it. I finally have my stuff together to get my fingerprint card (getting my fingerprints taken was interesting), but I haven't mailed it in yet . The process of getting certified as a substitute teacher is a bit unweildy, but I'm procrastinating nevertheless. I uncertain I could last a whole school day, managing a class full of kids I don't know. One reason I've been spending so much time over at the school is I'm trying to build up my stamina. It's time to get back in shape.

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