Saturday, 8 June 2013

Even when things don't look so good, I can still laugh

 
 
Close-up of medical records sitting on a shelf

A friend of mine once told me he was going to "The Great Big Sea". Not being able to hear the spelling, I thought he said, "Great Big C", which in some countries and back alley bars is a colloquialism for a certain part of the female anatomy. I thought this was quite rude, but replied, "oh... you're going to see your wife..."

Fast forward to last summer. My partner and I are enjoying our time together away from work and in the sun. I've never been a sun bunny, but it was fair season and I was really enjoying all the county fairs within a 4 hour drive of the big city. One day I started to notice the vision in my right eye was getting blurry. Damned! Time for new glasses! Not that it's a big deal, but I normally get my glasses from the optometrist which is near where I work which is not the city in which I live. So... like all good things, it could wait until I got back from vacation.
 
Tuesday - back from vacation, I need to get my eyes checked so.... it's off to the optometrist I go... She can't seem to find the 'right' strength for my vision so she takes a much closer look. She doesn't like what she sees and suggests that I may have a detached retina. She refers me to the on call surgeon at the hospital...
 
Tuesday - about an hour later.... at the hospital, DOCTOR Jones (I guess he didn't want to be referred to as "Surgeon" Jones) didn't think or wasn't sure or was afraid to make a diagnostic committment so he referred me to a Retinal Specialist!!!

Wednesday - the Retinal Specialist does a bunch of tests, sits me down and says, "you need to have this dealt with by the BEST!!! The BEST??? Woo hoo... I'm going to see the BEST... Still not sure why, but at least I'm going. The BEST is a doctor who resides on the Main Land! I reside on an island, so it's a boat ride plus to get there. But all is not lost, my appointment is going to be as-soon-as-they-could-get-me-in!
 
Apparently this was going happen much quicker than standing in line at Starbucks. Before she saw me, the BEST wanted me to have blood work, a CT scan, Chest X-ray, Ultra Sound, EKG and then some....  I'm not sure about your local practises, but here in Canada, you can't just go get these things done without a permission slip.  That note from the Doctor that says, "Please give my patient the following tests". Now this little love note has to say WHY the doctor wants the tests done.  Can't just do it because it's the 2nd Wednesday of the 9th month.  So on that, he writes, "Probable Choroidal Melanoma". 

I was pretty sure I knew what melanoma was, but Choroidal? I then consulted the best authority on anything: the Internet. I learned there that what I had was most likely Eye Cancer. WTF? EYE cancer? Cancer in the EYE? I knew about all kinds of cancer, but never in the eye. So... armed with this new knowledge, I read on... I mean, if I had eye cancer, what was the treatment? The Internet said, "Enucleation" Seriously? Is there a doctor in the house? What is "Enucleation"? So, now it's off to Wikipedia to find out that "Enucleation" means removal of the eye. Okay, that one hit me hard. I was going to the Big City tomorrow and coming home the day after without my right eye...

Now, I want to take a quick Time Out to acknowledge the love and support of my partner. In between the Specialist and my returning to the office, he had been contacted to say that the Retinal Specialists office needed to speak to me ASAP. Did I mention that this was the one day I had left my cell phone at home? Anyway, I called the Specialist to find out that my appointment was the next day. I then called my partner to let him know what was going on. Without a beat, he said, "I'm going too. When do you have to go" Tomorrow, sweetie.... and he did join me on my soujourn off the island.
 
Okay, commercial break for the love of my life is over.... back to my story...


Thursday.  Yes, it's only between two days since this started. We went over to the main land on the first ferry and I had more tests and that afternoon, I'm in the doctor's office waiting to see the BEST. I turned to the love of my life and said, "well, when they take my eye out, I want a new one that has a button. When someone pisses me off, all I have to do is press it and a red laser beam will shoot out of my eye!" He laughed and told me to think positive. I was pretty positive that's what I wanted. Then I began to look at my surroundings.... "Oh look, " I said to my ever loving and supportive partner, "The Specialist Who Deals With This is an Ocular Oncologist... I think Ocular means 'eye' and well, 'oncologist' means......" Trying to remain positive he said, "yes, she's an Oncologist, but maybe they're seeing you to rule out the possibility."  Ah, what a sweetheart, trying to look at the bright side!

The Ocular Oncologist aka "The Best" turned out to be a small woman with fierce determination and a "don't mess with me" look that went with it. Trust me, you didn't want to mess with her and neither did I.  Actually, I was too focussed on leaving the next day with one less eyeball.

When I went in, the first thing she said was "well, I guess you'd rather be anywhere than here." "You got that right". "When we're dealing with melanoma" she says, "we -". I cut her off "Melanoma? So then, it IS cancer?"

Her look said, "WTF? No one has told you?", but her voice said, "yes.... Now, I'm a straight shooter and I don't sugar coat things. But there is a treatment"

WHAT????? A TREATMENT???? Oh come on! That's NOT what the Internet said!!! What's going on here? Did the skies just open up and did I get personally blessed???

Wow! My life turned on that point. A treatment....  Oh great - but small - healer, what exactly IS this treatment you speak of?
 
She took the time to explain and she also cared enough about us to ask if we were a couple (yes, the partner was with me - some things you just DON'T do alone) and shared that she had no problem with that because she had a gay brother.... which was nice to know, but I really wanted to know more about the treatment.....
 
Next blog - Adventures in Radioactive Land

3 comments:

  1. I wish you all the best (retroactively) with all of this! What a terrible shock, receiving a diagnosis like that!

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  2. There ARE treatments for choroidal melanoma. Enucleation is considered definitive treatment but radiation etc offers an excellent chance of local control without the disease spreading any further. Honest.

    Even if you opt for enucleation, there are prosthetics that are indistinguishable from your natural eye AND you will be able to do virtually everything you did before including driving. You will lose some depth perception but not much more than than.

    Good luck. Any cancer diagnosis is horribly frightening. But some are much worse than others. It sounds like your physician is smart and a fighter. Glad you have her on your team

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  3. Buddy Bear - thanks for the encouragement!

    savon - I did not have Enucleation, which is what I write about in my next blog! Thanks for your encouragement!

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