Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Cyst

     This week has been dominated by the cyst on my breast. It took a while for me to accept that I'd have to see the doctor. I've had two others, but they were on the breast bone, and I managed to squeak by with antibiotics, but I didn't think I could do that again. I don't like going to the doctor, but I understand that it's important. 
      So, there was the initial Monday call to his office, the discussion with the woman at the desk scheduling the appointment. I need this small problem taken care of and an annual physical, I say. He has time on Tuesday, she says. But is there enough time for the annual? No, but this is important. 
     He's quite a nice fellow though I look down my nose on his handwriting which has no distinction. But he's thorough, quiet, with some sense of humor. The problem with him is that he's not Dr. Isselbacher, a wonderful woman who was my doctor for many years. I trusted her implicitly. Her father had been an important figure at the Mass General and the man I lived with had trained at Boston City under Inglefinger and told me about these two greatly admired figures with their distinctive names. I gather that Inglefinger was someone who had to be buried face-down, but I've always admired the Isselbacher family of doctors.
    So, my new doctor, relatively new, found because Dr. Isselbacher took a long leave-of-absence and has finally come back to practice as a concierge doctor (I wish I could afford this type of practice), can't fill her shoes. Yet.
    But he looked my cyst over, measured it, counting out loud, 2, 3, 4, the widths of infection, and used words like erethema. And it was red, a huge ring of red around it. And instead of suggesting a dreaded surgeon, said that I should see a nurse practioner, Karen Flarehty, (that's not the right spelling) at the Brigham and Women's Breast Center. She, he assured me, is extremely nice (that's my requirement. The doctor I lived with said that it doesn't matter a damn whether a doctor is nice ... they have to be good (though he used a more precise word to describe just how good they have to be.)
    He phoned her machine, left his message, gave me a prescription for antibiotics and by the time I had filled it and got home, she'd left a message on my machine. 
    I saw her on Tuesday. My friend, Karl, came along. (He wasn't the most presentable person to sit reading a New Yorker in the waiting room, because he'd forgotten to put in his front teeth and change from his work sweater, but a very tall man is always impressive, no matter what the small details are.)
     She was willing to chat from the moment she met me until the procedure was done. I was relieved that she could do it there and that I didn't have to keep the appointment she'd made for a catscan and an asperation. I wanted this real, human, talkative woman to manage it. And she was efficient. And it was easy. Just a few pricks, then nothing until she bandaged it up. My only mistake was having taken a Valium for potential anxiety over needles, but now I know that that's only in the dentist office that causes my phobia and specifically concerns Novacaine.
    But she wouldn't let me take photographs.
    My dentist let me photograph both sessions for the crown and even took the camera to get a closer view.
    But I had to make do with photographing the cyst when she wasn't in the room and the aftermath.
    Of course, I have all the stages of the cyst -- in the office, the bandage, the unbandaged view with the drain starting to pull out, etc. This is all part of my never-ending fascination for what's happening. But my attempts are minimal compared to Karl Baden's who followed the whole process of his prostate cancer operation and long, difficult treatment with his camera. His drive to record the most difficult aspects of his life is admirable. I am fortunate not to have had any major catastrophe like that and my only close call, when Krissy was in grade school and had appendicitis, went unphotographed until she came back from the hospital and I took a portrait of her pale, exhausted self.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you came through and that it was only a close call!