Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yes: Turning Medical Frowns Upside Down, Part One

One thing I like to do is take a medical experience and write about it. Find the humor in it, if you will.  I've done this a lot. In 2012, I had some wacky spinal adventures and wrote about it.  Briefest of brief background: I had intermittent pain in my side for a decade, went on a bunch of CT scan and MRI rides that discovered hidden treasures. I next had a particulary unfun diagnosistic test called a myelogram which could be an essay it itself.  At present, doc says things are stable and may stay that way forever.  Forever, as Prince says, is a mighty long time and that's what I'm going with.

On that myelogram: I probably never will write an essay about that as involved a "lumber puncture," which is basically a spinal tap, It was as fuck-awful as you've heard. So you should probably not get meningitis as this could merit one of those and trust me, you'd just rather not.

Anyway, I wrote the below directly after my first visit with my own brand new personal neurosurgeon.  (Is it a little fucked up that I'm kind of proud that I can say "MY neurosurgeon?" Probably.) At this point, (MY) neurosurgeon had pretty much diagnosed me but there were still a lot of unknowns.

Anyway, have at it:

***

Click this: meningocele  Ain't that a ration of shit?

Here's a funny thing: no one, especially an adult, is supposed to have a secret meningocele. From what I've gleaned, if you were a meningocele, you would pretty much make your presence known as quickly as possible, as in the case of spina bifida.  

When I grow a deformity, I don't mess around. Bet you didn't know that about me. 

How I grew this thing is still all very mysterious. I could give you some of the doc's hypothesis but that sort of theoretical mumbo jumbo doesn't interest me.  For now, let's just say, I was born this way.

Here's another funny thing: when you say "meningocele," no one knows what the hell you're talking about.  In fact, when I say "meningocele," I can't.  Phonetically it's pronounced "men-nin-go-seal." I've said "menin-joe-sell" and "menin-go-selly" and "parasitic twin."

I find it's easier to stick with that last one.  One, it's much easier to say.  Two, everyone knows about parasitic twins. True, they're gross and freaky but hey: built-in friend!  But the best reason why I like to call my meningocele a parasitic twin is because it shares a similar trait: it's eating me.

Here's what MeningoTwin looks like:


Now would be a good time for me to pull out my CT Scan and MRI reports and type exactly the crazy-med speak transcribed there but I'd rather do it this way:

You know how the spine is labeled by cervical, thoracic and lumbar parts and with all those numbers, C1, T4, L3  and so on?  It's like a crazy anatomical Bingo game, isn't it?  When they called "Protruding sac at T11 and  T12," I yelled "BINGO!" I was pretty excited too -- first the nutty MeningoTwin and now this!

Then I had a visit with my neurosurgeon, who I shall call Dr. S. He told me to settle down.

"It ain't all good," said Dr. S.  "There's spinal fluid in MeningoTwin."

Dr. S began waxing analogous: "Think how river water flows over a rock. As years go by, that water will erode the rock.  And that, my friend, is what's happened to your vertebrae at  T11 and T12. The bone has eroded."

I couldn't fully process that at first.

When I was young, my father had a piece of petrified wood in his top dresser drawer.  The wood had turned to rock.  Even though Dr. S. was talking about eroded rock, for some reason I kept picturing that piece of petrified wood in my mind.  Which, you know, would have been okay: if my spine was turning from wood to rock, I'd be kind of like Pinocchio, wouldn't I? A real boy!

But also, I was a little starstruck. For the first time in my life, I was in the presence of a bonafide neurosurgeon: the only person I've ever knowingly met in my life who could answer "Um, yeah it is!" when told "Hurry up, it's not brain surgery."

Eventually my Disneyland fangirl cloud passed and I asked him what that meant.

"It means that your spine could collapse," he said.
"What does that mean," I asked.
"It means you'd be paralyzed," he replied.

Well, that just about took the cake.  I've been many parathings in my time: a paralegal, a paraprofessional, a Paregoric swallower, and most recently, right, the a parasitic twin. But never paralyzed.  Unless you count right then, when I was "paralyzed" by fear to ask anymore questions, ho ho!

***

This is where I ended writing about this particular medical experience, as shortly after came the aforementioned myelogram and a whole lotta grim.  I think I shall write about that after all because ya'll need to be in the know about some crazy things.  For starters, do you know what fixes a leaky hole in the spinal cord after a stupid needle goes barreling where it shouldn't be barreling? I bet you don't. The answer? Your own blood!  Too, do you know what can happen if you leak all kinds of spinal fluid for over a week?  What can happen is, your brain can start falling out of your head!

But more on that later. perchance.  Recall, I am just FINE so no need to worry about me. I have a built-in friend, recall.  Still, in case anyone is left feeling funny about this post, here's a nice picture of Florpy the Corn Gurner:


1 comment:

  1. Very entertaining indeed. Reading of others' misfortunes beats having to have them yourself. Roseanne Cash also speaks highly of her neurosurgeon. Apparently they inspire a certain urge to own them. A status thing?

    By the way, you might get a kick out of the fact that years ago when I was still lighting the blues shows at my old theatre here, I met a woman bass player from Putnam who'd gone to Eastern in the 70s (?). Her mother taught 4th grade in Putnam with my mother-in-law, Mary Kerensky. The bass player's mother was Mrs. Zamagni. Penny is the bass player and now lives in NC. She and I have corresponded ever since we bumped into each other that night some 10 years ago.

    Anyway, keep up the jollity. If you do, I won't have to play those games either.

    Bill Lannon

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