It’s been too long since I’ve posted a good story about Dr S, my most-favorite and much-abused plastic surgeon who saw me through the worst of the infection(s) this past summer and with whom I have an ongoing love-hate relationship. I love to needle him, and he hates to see my name on his clinic schedule!
I saw him Friday for a check-up (I love the way “check-up” sounds so simple & innocent, and misleadingly free of scary stuff like tumors and fat necrosis and scar tissue and reconstruction). He’s usually pretty prompt, and out of the many, many office visits I’ve had with him, I really haven’t had to wait too long for him. The few times it has happened, though, it has made me mad and I let him know it. I understand that delays happen, and the doctor isn’t always in control of the schedule, but I’m just an impatient person and it annoys me. My bad.
Friday was no exception. After waiting nearly an hour in the waiting area (so aptly named, that place), I waited some more in the exam room. I’ve explained before that although I am “just” an at-home mom, my time is still valuable, and I prefer him to keep some other patient waiting and get to me first. Not that I want some other patient to have to wait longer than me, but really once you’ve been diagnosed and gone through a nasty surgery and then the whole infection scene and multiple hospitalizations, well, ok maybe I do want someone else to have to wait longer. Surely all of that mess garners some sort of street cred or extra credit or something that allows me to go to the front of the line. But no. Like so many things related to cancer and subsequent recovery, there’s no easy way, no priority boarding, no free ride.
So after an hour of waiting on Friday, Amy and I were joking, as we’ve done before, about the many ways we could get his attention. We can usually hear his voice through the exam room walls and can gauge if he’s wrapping things up with the previous patient (although sadly, we can’t make out all the words and so can’t really get a sense of what they’re discussing, and y’all know how nosey I am; being able to properly eavesdrop would pass the time quite nicely). We’ve considered texting him from the waiting area and the exam room (yes, I do have his cell number), or knocking on the walls and hollering, Hurry it up in there, we’ve got to get back to Sugar Land for carpool!
Well on Friday we hatched a new plan and decided to write him a note and slip it under the door. We ripped the paper covering from the exam table and scribbled, You’ve got 5 minutes. Then we stuck it under the door.
Ballsy? Perhaps. Rude? A little. Effective? Most definitely. He burst through the exam room door post haste, note in hand and grinning wildly. He needed a little shake-up to his day. He muttered something about how he’s never in all his years had a patient give him so much grief. I replied that I’ve never in all my years liked waiting, something I’ve been imminently clear about from day one with him. Y’all may recall from my previous blog on Caring Bridge that I told Dr S at our first consultation, shortly after my diagnosis, that I know full well and good that he has other patients; I’m not his only patient, but I expect to be his number-one priority. I was kidding then, but oh how eerily prescient that little wisecrack turned out to be. Six months later–and today is exactly six months since my mastectomy–that man is still not rid of me.
Here’s the really funny part, though — he actually tried to blame his lack of punctuality on Daylight Savings. He said his schedule has been messed up since the time change, and I guess what we’re supposed to infer from that is that it’s not his fault. Time change, huh? It must have been pretty clear by the look on my face that I wasn’t buying that, because he asked me why I was looking at him as if he were FOC. I wasn’t familiar with that acronym so he said what about FOS? That one I know, and told him that I did indeed think he was FOS. Totally FOS. Since we “fall back” with the time change, he should have been an hour early!
Most people probably spend the extra hour we gain in Daylight Savings by sleeping. I usually use that extra hour to clean, as something around here always needs cleaning. This time, however, I’m going to spend the extra hour reflecting on my good health.
It’s a tenuous state. And after my little scare this week, I’m planning to savor it even more. In case you missed the update, I had some fluid on my right side that Dr S wanted to drain so he made yet another hole in my chest wall on Tuesday. All week the gunk that drained out of the latest hole was pretty nasty looking, and infection was on everyone’s mind.
Friday I saw the newest member of my infectious disease team, Dr Samo. I wanted him to see the gunk and tell me unequivocally that I had nothing to worry about. As much as I try to live by the “don’t borrow trouble” mantra (thank you very much, Amy Hoover), this gunk was worrisome.
As I drove into the Medical Center Friday morning, I was mentally reviewing the all-too-familiar list of things to pack for a hospital stay, just in case. I even wondered if I should pack a bag, since I had no idea what to expect from this doctor visit. Imagine my relief when Dr Samo was universally unimpressed with my gunk. I’m really glad. He said he agrees with Dr S, that we’re not looking at infection but simply some unhealthy tissue that’s not getting enough blood supply and dying a slow, gunky death. That kinda creeps me out, to think of decaying stuff on the inside, but compared to infection it’s positively lovely. Big sigh of relief.
There was some great comic relief in the waiting room of Dr Samo’s office. An elderly lady was waiting with her daughter, and both were pure country. They talked r-e-a-l slowly and with a heavy twang. No idea what they were there for, but they had a hilarious conversation that was too funny to not overhear. Mama said to daughter (very s-l-o-w-l-y), Next time you go to the store, I want you to bring home an orange. After a very long pause, daughter asked why, and mama said, to eat of course. Daughter chose to dredge up some ancient history by mentioning the apples she brought home from the store that mama never ate. Mama knew she was busted, and deftly changed the subject to someone named Timothy, who apparently isn’t much into fruits & vegetables, but according to mama, eats more than you think. She went on to say that when you think about it, Timothy eats salad (r-e-a-l g-o-o-d), and will eat peas, corn, potatoes, baked beans and rice. Daughter let the baked beans go, but pointed out that rice isn’t a fruit or vegetable. Mama said, well sure it is; if not a fruit or a veg, what is it? Daughter said, It’s just rice.
So there you have it folks, at the end of the day, it’s just rice.