Friday, March 27, 2009

My day "off"

I went for my annual physical last week and the doctor noticed that some of my blood tests had been a little off recently. She ran more tests and my (unconjugated) bilirubin was high. The doctor sent me to the gastroenterologist. I had an appointment for this morning, but I could not get out of bed. I was conscious of not wanting to get up and face today. I was about to leave the house when I remembered that they had some paperwork for me to fill out ahead of time. So, I ran my computer upstairs and printed them out and filled them out hastily, in that way that you do when you're nervous and can't read or concentrate. Or, maybe only I have that trouble.

On my way over to the Medical Center, which is mercifully only 10-15 minutes from the house, I called my mom because I realized I hadn't called to ask about my and our family history. Living in Central Asia, I was exposed to all kinds of things, including hepatits, and had intestinal parasites a few times, but all of that has apparently amounted to nothing permanent other than intolerance of certain fats. After the time I went so far as getting (and paying for) a chest x-ray for a positive TB test and then told Mom about it who said, hey, doofus (I'm paraphrasing, she's really not a name-caller) you had an immunization as a kid and you'll always test positive. So... I'm calling my poor mother on speakerphone as I'm driving and pulling her out of the shower. Of course I started to cry. I'm 34 years old and when I'm upset, the sound of my mama's voice still makes me cry.

The gastro was great even though I was late. I filled out even more paperwork and waited. I went back and talked with the PA who looks like he just graduated. At least he didn't call me ma'am. And then I waited more. The doc came in and I really, really liked him. He's like my primary doc and spent lots of time asking questions. He explained what is going on according to my previous tests (and prodding my belly, etc.). He's not concerned about the lithium and pointed out some research they're doing now that it's good for you. Anyway, he thinks it's Gilbert Syndrome, which is basically a pretty benign thing, although more uncommon in women. He wanted me to have more blood tests to be certain. I have to go back in 6 weeks, but there seems to be little concern. Cool.

Trouble is, it was 11:15 as I was leaving the parking garage (stressing about whether or not I had enough cash--for future reference, they take plastic). My appointment for the thyroid biopsy was near Greenway Plaza. I couldn't find the number of the place I was going to tell them that I was late. My actual appointment was at 11, but I was supposed to be there at 10:30. I walked in at about 11:45. Yeah. I apologized profusely and asked if they could work me in later. Turns out, the radiologist was just about to leave so he stayed.

I ended up filling out even more paperwork and paying $88.06. Thank you, health insurance. All that money I pay in premiums stings, but I'm glad I have it. I waited another hour, probably. I was escorted upstairs and sat alone in another waiting room. The woman who took me up talked with me and assured me that it would be fine. I spent about five minutes wrestling with my compass necklace from Ryan, wrapping it three times around my wrist. A couple who had walked up while I was busy and the woman offered to help me. I thanked her, but said that it was giving me something to do with my nervous energy. We chatted about tests and nerves and kids and all the pleasantries you exchange with other strangers.

I was escorted into an exam room with all of the equipment, including the ultrasound machine, my new best friend. Actually, since they started warming the gel, it could be everyone's best friend. It's so soothing. She had me put on a gown (I kept on all my clothes, minus my shirt) and then she set everything up. I sent Ryan a photo of my necklace and told him I felt like he was with me. The doc came in and explained what he was going to do. I also got a chance to apologize for being late and thank him for waiting for me.

First, he looked at me with the ultrasound and put in the numbing stuff. That was the worst part. It was a stick that burned. And continued to burn. I prayed to stay calm. Then he used another needle and that stick felt more like a punch--I could feel it, but it didn't really hurt. The second and third I could barely feel at all. And then it was over. I sat up on the bed and the assistant asked me if I was dizzy. I said no. Yes. She made my lie down and jacked the foot of the bed up. After a few minutes, assured that I wouldn't crash onto the floor, she let me go.

I walked to the elevator and there was a mirror. I didn't want to see, but it wasn't too bad. I had been warned that it was bruised, but it mostly looked red and blotchy and irritated. Plus, the little Band-Aid. Not bad. I checked out and then went out into the car and called Ryan to tell him I was okay. I told him I was going to Whataburger since I hadn't eaten anything (it was about 1PM) and he said that was okay. Oh, yeah. Lent. Friday. Meat. I decided to go anyway.

I walked in and felt hyper-sensitive of my neck. It still felt weird and I didn't want to move my neck and wondered if eating would be annoying. Lemme tell ya, that cheeseburger, fries, and root beer were just what the doctor ordered. I read a book while I ate and started to feel a little more myself. I did consider an A&W root beer float, but I am saving that for something hugely traumatic. I did go to Kroger and got a heat-up brownie thing and some more ginger ale for Mr. Pneumonia. He's officially lost that title, which is a relief, but he still needs lots of rest and fluids.

I came home and greeted my puppy. She made sure I was okay. Now I'm in my jammies, watching TV and being a bum. There will be TV and basketball tonight. I am thankful for health insurance, for good news, for people who love me.

Before and After Whataburger. I strongly believe in the Cheeseburger Cure-All.


Anonymous said...

What's this about billirubin? Mine's always off too.

Susan said...

Kate, so Tim's is always off, too? Grandmere said no one in our family has this. That she knows of. She thought I was asking about baby Etta, but I told her it's about an adult and not which one. :) Have you asked the question on "My Family" so the aunties can answer about the Thomas side? Can I say again: I'm proud of you for being responsible and facing all these thing! Love, Mama

shoeaddict said...

Oh dear! I'm so sorry that you had to go through with all of that. I really loved the Ryan-necklace part of the story. I hope that you had a really good day today. And, a great Sunday. OH! And maybe you need to get under the lights like babies do when their billiruben is low. You know, those french fry light things?


Kate said...

Tim, he said it's hereditary and it's pretty much harmless. Just avoid stress (ha!). Have you ever noticed a bit of jaundice?

Mom, I think I will ask the aunties. Thanks. I feel like a hypochondriac sometimes, but it was my doc and she's very cautious.

Shoe, thanks! And I totally know what you're talking about and the French fry lights sound kind of nice even now that the thyroid hormones seem to have helped my extreme sensitivity to cold. And the weather here is unbelievably beautiful. =)

Lainey-Paney said...

Okay, the sound of my mom's voice can still make me cry too---in those times when i'm so upset, or so stressed, etc.

Greenway Plaza area in Houston?
My dad used to work down there. A big huge hotel...I could drive & drive & drive around it---seeing the building, and STILL not figure out how to actually get TO the building. That whole area is crazy.

Loni said...

Crazy day, but you did it! That day is in the past and so is all the stress and craziness of it. What a blessing.

And the's a blessing, too. :)

Oh, and yes. The paperwork thing totally makes me nervous. I am glad I am not the only one.