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Just practicing medicine, or How I didn’t get the nut cancer

04.23.06 | 16 Comments

I’d been hurting for a couple of weeks. I only really noticed it when I was sitting down at the computer, so I figured it was something about the chair or how I was sitting or a new pair of jeans. Nothing to worry about.

Then my wife noticed that the boys looked bigger than they used to. Then they started to hurt more. Then I noticed one of them was bigger than it used to be, a lot bigger. Then they started to hurt a lot more.

I called to make an appointment that next morning. Could I come in in two weeks? No, I explained again, I think I have nut cancer, and I want to know when I will be coming in today.

My Primary Care was teaching most of the day, so they set me up with Dr. Chucktastic. He felt me up and asked if I’d had kids yet. That didn’t help. He gave me a referral to the radiology lab for a test the next week and mumbled something about how he expected something else would come out positive. That didn’t help either.

I followed him out the door to ask him about pain meds. Just take Advil, for the swelling. Okay then.

That was Monday. Wednesday morning I called in to ask for some pain meds. I had some 800mg Ibuprofen tablets lying around. I’d taken two of them that morning, and it didn’t make much of a dent. The nurse was upset. I’m not supposed to take 1600mg in a single dose. I’m not supposed to take them on an empty stomach. Am I sure I don’t have to go to the emergency room?

I didn’t need to go to the emergency room. I needed the pain meds I’d asked Dr. Chucktastic for two days earlier as he walked down the hallway.

The nurse called back five minutes later. I was to drop what I was doing and proceed straight to radiology to have my test done. Or I could go to the ER. Okay then. I called my wife to ask her to meet me at home to take me over and called to cancel a job interview. Still no word on those pain meds. It was a bumpy ride to radiology.

At radiology a perky young woman named Nicole felt me up in the ultrasound room. I supposed it meant that I was being tested not only for testicular cancer but also for testicular pregnancy. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the sonogram, much less tell if it was a boy or a girl. Still no idea what was going on. Still no word from Dr. Chucktastic.

After the phone calls to my family, I called about the pain meds for the third time that day. Luckily, my Primary Care was on call. He called in some Vicodin. Before an hour was out, I was no longer in pain.

Thursday afternoon I called to see if there was any word from my test. No word back.

Friday morning we agreed on a plan. My wife would call twice in the morning. I would follow up a couple of hours later and then call every twenty minutes thereafter. I wasn’t going to wait all weekend to find out if I had cancer. It doesn’t take any time for a radiologist to look at those photos and make a diagnosis. It doesn’t take any time to send the report to my doctor. It doesn’t take any time to call me and let me know. It does, however, take time to answer my phone calls every twenty minutes, and I was going to make all this very clear if necessary. Someone over there knew whether or not I had cancer, and they were going to tell me sooner, not later.

Dr. Chucktastic had told me to call radiology directly if I hadn’t heard anything, so I made my first call there. I was greeted by Dianne. I explained to Dianne that I needed my test results from Wednesday. She asked the name of my Primary Care. I told her, but said they were probably filed under Dr. Chucktastic. Just a moment.

A click and a few rings later I was greeted by a new voice. I told her I was calling about my test results. She was confused. I was confused. After some talking, I figured out that she was the hospital operator, and she figured out that I had been transferred to her by Dianne. She transferred me back to Dianne.

Dianne did not answer the phone. After eight rings, I tried again. Dianne didn’t answer. I rang again. Dianne didn’t answer. I rang yet again. Dianne didn’t answer. On the sixth try: Radiology, this is Dianne. Another click, but no transfer. Dianne had just hung up on me.

Unfortunately for Dianne, the card that perky Nicole had given me not only had Dianne’s line listed but also her two supervisors’. I spoke with both of them. They were not happy and the situation would be dealt with.

Another interesting piece of information: contrary to what Dr. Chucktastic had told me, radiology can’t give results directly to patients. Dr. Chucktastic would be getting a hold of me. Okay then.

I called my doctor’s office. I explained that my Primary Care had told me just the night before to call about the results of my test. Did my wife just call? I don’t know, maybe she did. Just a moment.

A moment later, she returned. Yes, my Primary Care said to tell me that everything is okay and that I don’t need to worry. He would like to talk to me about my results, though. Can I come in at the end of the day?

Half an hour later someone called to say Dr. Chucktastic had called in some pain meds for me. An hour later someone called to say Dr. Chucktastic had put my urology referral through. Okay then.

After waiting for thirty minutes (not counting my being there ten minutes early, as requested), they brought me back to take my vitals. Five minutes later they moved me to a new room. I overheard the nurse asking her supervisor if she should ask me to take my pants off. I didn’t hear her answer, and the nurse didn’t reappear.

I think that was for the best. I was in there another ten minutes waiting for my Primary Care. Those ten minutes would not have been better spent by my waiting for my Primary Care sans pants.

My Primary Care arrived and felt me up for no more than ten and a half seconds. Perhaps less. By my count, that’s a good deal less sans pants time than I would have spent by the nurse’s plan. I could have told her that if she’d thought to ask me instead of her supervisor, as I’d already been felt up twice that week by other medical professionals.

My Primary Care told me I have a spermatocelle. A kink in the line between nut and nasty. Nothing to worry about. He drew a picture of it on the butcher paper on the bed, where my bare ass would have sat for ten minutes according to the nurse’s plan. The kink in the line would probably sort itself out in a few days. I should call him in a couple of weeks if it’s not better. And here was a referral to pee in a cup just to cover all the bases.

I thanked him for his help. Especially for calling in the Vicodin. I told him about Dr. Chucktastic. He was taking notes, so I couldn’t get a read on his reaction. Perhaps this wasn’t the first time he’d heard about Dr. Chucktastic. Perhaps he didn’t want to butt into another doctor’s practice. Perhaps he was just busy taking notes.

I went home. We went to dinner that night. I slept for thirteen hours.

As a friend likes to tell me: Remember, they’re not doing medicine. They’re just practicing.

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