Friday, November 05, 2004

The dickens you say.

Bless my heart, I am not a well woman. I've seen just about as many doctors lately as I have ex-husbands in search of a diagnosis for what's been ailing me.

A diagnosis and high-quality prescription medications, of course.

It all started some time ago. I began to notice how unbelievably tired I was no matter how little I actually did. My face looked puffy, my skin was dry, and my sharp as a tack mind could be better described as a dull butter knife that couldn't cut warm butter.

And then one day back in May, while applying the third coat of my Kilz-like make-up, I happened to notice a lump on my throat. I was somewhat distressed.

"I'm dying! I'm dying!" I screamed at the top of my lungs to my Yorkie while clutching my throat and weeping uncontrollably. "Sweet Jesus, I'm dying!"

In my terror, I immediately called Mr. Man, all my relatives and the nearby funeral home. "It's probably just a swollen gland," said Mr. Man, all my relatives and the lady that answered the phone at the funeral home. That's all I needed to hear. Swollen glands were normal. Everyone gets those from time to time. It would simply go away on it's own, I reasoned.

Not so much.

Months passed and during the routine spackling ritual of the crevices in my face one morning, I noticed the lump was still right where I left it... only bigger. It was now the Lump That Ate Manhattan.

"I'm dying! I'm dying!" I screamed at the top of my lungs to my Yorkie, who by this time was used to my high drama in the mornings and didn't even bother to look up from his chew toy. I called Mr. Man, all my relatives and the funeral home.

"Make an appointment with the doctor," Mr. Man said.

"Let us know what you find out," all my relatives said.

"I'll be over later with a measuring tape and some fabric samples," the lady that answered the phone at the funeral home said.

So began my medical saga. During the months since, I have been sufficiently poked, inappropriately touched, comprehensively studied and staggeringly billed. And for all my pain and suffering, only this past week did I finally receive a diagnosis.

"You have Hashimoto's Disease," said the man in the white coat that I assume was an actual doctor.

"Oh no!" I screeched. "That's even worse than I expected. That explains my fascination with bells, and why I have to wear so much make-up to wander free among the pretty people, but I thought the lump was supposed to be on my back."

"He said Hashimoto's Disease, Honey. Not Quasimodo's Disease," Mr. Man explained.

In my defense, my doctor is not from around here. I can only understand about every third word he says. He asked me once if I had "cistus" and I told him I thought I'd had it once when I was a kid, but I'd have to call my Mother to make sure.

"No, no. Not dat," he said smiling. "Do jew hab da cistus? Dit jew mutter hab moe dan one ghoul?"

"Oh. Yes she did," I answered. "My Mutter had two ghouls.

"So, I have something called Hashimoto's, huh?" I asked suspiciously. "Frankly, Doc, I think you're just making up words at this point. At least have the decency to make up an illness that sounds legitimate."

After I made him swear on the stack of 1985 Lady Golfer magazines in his exam room, I finally accepted that he wasn't pulling my leg. Well, actually he did pull my leg but I assume that was part of the exam. Or a fertility ritual of some sort. I couldn't understand him when he explained.

Apparently my pituitary has turned on my innocent thyroid and is attacking it as if it were an enemy. As a result, my thyroid is not doing it's work which results in all the wonderful symptoms I've been having and the unsightly lump on my neck.

When I think about it, I imagine George C. Scott as General Patton running around in my head leading the charge on my thyroid while yelling to his troops, "Lead me, follow me or get out of my way!" I can almost feel the tiny bayonets piercing my throat as these microscopic soldiers lay siege to my poor, little thyroid.

War is hell.

I tell you what else is hell. As I write, I am waiting on his nurse to call with my scheduled biopsy appointment so that Blue Cross/Blue Shield can make the down payment on my doctor's summer home in the Hamptons. I'm very excited.

"Vatever you do, pease do not go home and vurry. Der is a very goot chance dat you do not hab de cancer," he said in an effort to reassure me as I left his office.

"No problem, Doc. I've never been one to worry."

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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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