My Diagnosis – the 1st clue & realising something's up!!
Updated: May 5, 2022
The tale of Jesus Suffering Fuck!
In October of ’21, I returned to gainful employment. 11th October to be precise. That Monday was the start of the lift of Lockdown restrictions too. It was a long lockdown, for us anyway, 103 days. One of those restrictions being lifted was, that Barbers were allowed to open. My own, regular Barber was unable to give me an appointment, such was the rush of blokes looking to rid themselves of their COVID do’s. I sought another. After passing possibly 3 or 4, with queues longer than I thought was fucking reasonable, I found one with only 3 folks waiting and 4 chairs. Bonus, this’ll take a ½ hour, no more no less. I had my usual number 0 short back and sides, thought the job was of reasonable competence and choofed off into the late afternoon glow of having not only had my first day at work, but I’d also managed to skive a wee haircut in.
(Say) A week later (it could've been a couple of weeks), I felt some uncharacteristic swelling at the back of my head; I guess at the base of my Skull. In an area that I now know as my Occipital Lymph Nodes. I had a low-level persistent headache. Nothing major, but as I really don’t have headaches often, it was starting to be noticeable. I tootled off to the local (new) multi-disciplinary Medical Centre and saw a walk-in Dr, not my recent 'chosen' Dr. I was developing quite a relationship with 'my' Dr in regard to my reversal of Type 2 diabetes (maybe more on that later). I was due a bloodwork draw but decided I’d postpone that until after some festive season fun (procrastination 101). So, I was trepidatious about visiting the Medical Centre.
At the Centre, I was able to get an Ultrasound pretty quickly. The Sonographer was a young, tall, slim, blonde Girl from Queensland with a bit of a potty-mouth, and I made mirth as a way of dealing with what was quite stressful (as is my wont). I’m also typically uneasy with silence especially in enclosed spaces with strangers, so restless conversation was the order. When I asked her what it was, I was told I’d be called back if there was anything untoward.
I was called and asked to go to the Local Hospital for another type of scan, to be honest, that’s a bit of a blur. The results were ‘unremarkable’ swelling and I was prescribed a topical antibiotic lotion to apply if I felt it wasn’t getting better. The swelling did abate, and Christmas/ New Year came and went. At that point, and another haircut in which I was slagged for my fidelity (or lack thereof), harangued for being a cheap bastard and generally made a fool of for going to s shitey dirty Barber with rubbish sanitary practices. My own Barber certainly made me feel silly for going elsewhere. It was deliberate, unrelenting, and direct.
In late January, I noticed a swelling in my groin. Upper left thigh to be precise. I thought it was odd. It was painless, moved freely, wasn’t that hard and wasn’t uncomfortable. Off I choof to Dr Google (as is my typical response).
Basically, as I recall, it said to monitor for 4-6 weeks, if it subsides, mention it to your Dr next time you’re there. In other words, DON’T PANIC. If it stays unchanged or grows, go see your Dr. In other words, something shite is brewing potentially.
Weeks passed with most Showers involving the inspection of this lump. It was under the skin, felt as if it was deeper than just sub-cutaneous if that even is a thing (deeper I mean). Perhaps under the skin is just under the skin, eh? It wasn’t growing but it certainly wasn’t shrinking either. I tried to put it at the back of my mind, to be frank. Actually, I stuck my head in the sand to be even more franker - inside the mind of a master procrastinator.
We’d decided to sell our apartment and buy a new one. The what was essentially quite a frenetic few weeks came and went. We sold in 7 days and purchased a new joint. Ready in August. With the prospect of having to rent short-term looming, our purchaser agreed to a 6mth contract completion and everything was cushty. Sold and bought with relative pain-free, minimal hassle, and looking forward to the year unfolding after a couple of really shite years. Kerry had lost both Parents between May ’20 and April ’21, necessitating 2 rushed UK visits, 2 sets of shitey quarantine and a bucket-load of emotional distress, the magnitude of which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Work was looking good, I seemed to be making a contribution. I was enjoying my role and having a wee bit of fun getting to know my newfound friendlleagues along the way. It really felt as if things were falling into my lap.
After a shower one day, one of a few in which my thoughts of my ‘lump’ were starting to linger, I decided to go see the Dr again. I shared with Kerry, in the spirit of openness and we agreed a Dr visit was in order. I basically asked him for an ultrasound. He was intrigued, we spent 20 mins discussing what I’ve typed above, and he sent me for an ultrasound. I left with a smart-arse smirk probably muttering, 'told you, stupid fuck', could’ve saved you time and bother.
The ultrasound, or prospect of it didn’t occur to me nor bother me. I then realised that I just had shorts on, and it would be best if I could nip home and augment my current state of attire. A quick chat with the reception and I bolted home and back in about 12 mins with fresh, clean undies on (in addition to y shorts OBVIOUSLY). Then, the door opened and, yes you guessed it, the sonographer from before. My heart sank as she greeted me on first name terms. I blurted out, ‘bugger, I’m not sure whose day has just got worse. Me because of you doing it (the scan effectively in my nether regions) or yours because you have to see some fat middle-aged bloke get down to his undies'. She quickly confirmed that, unless it was her 3rd perineal ulcer today, her day couldn’t get any worse and I had to get over myself. We chatted as she went about the scan, I could detect some looks of woe as she took, checked, and double-checked measurements. She left quickly, came back and without much warning, wheeked my waistband down a bit and scanned my lower abdomen then my clavicle area as well as my neck again. I asked her what she was seeing, and she was silent. She asked me if I had time; she wanted to speak with the Dr again. Before long, I was back in his surgery and he gave me a Pathology request to be taken that afternoon and told me to see my regular Dr the next day, don’t delay. Fuck!
The next day, I visited my regular GP. He was convivial, pleasant engaging as always and seemed non-judgemental of my procrastination on my bloodwork scheduled for a couple of months earlier. He read the ultrasound reports, felt my Lump (one of only 4 people to do so (I’ll explain another day), looked at me and hummed. His voice said nothing, his eyes said everything.
He said, ‘Innes, you have Lymphadenopathy, consistent with some sort of lymphoproliferative disorder’. I said, ‘eh?’. Fuck, fuck!
He said, ‘You have something that is causing your whole Lymphatic system (you know what that is right?) to go into overdrive. ‘OK’ said I. ‘Righto, time for us to agree to a plan’.
‘The fuck you mean? A PLAN? Gimme a ‘script and I’ll be on my way’. Months earlier, we’d agreed that language in context was ok.
‘Er, not so fast mate’. ‘We need another blood draw now, non-fasted. And another in the morning, fasted’.
‘WTF, Dr? You had some yesterday, I’m Scottish and I don’t give it up easy. We’ve discussed this’. Uneasy chuckles.
‘Yeah mate, I need to check for a few things, rule out HIV, you don’t have a chance of having HIV, do you?’
‘Not last time I fucking looked, no’.
‘Have you heard of CMV?’
‘I’m impressed, although by now I shouldn’t be’.
I straightened my back and felt proud 🖕🏻
‘What about EBV?’
‘C’mon Doc, you’re going to have to do better than that, Epstein Barr Virus’ with a deliberate and slow roll of my eyes.
My turn. ‘Ok Dr where are we going with this?’.
‘As I said Innes, you have widespread Lymphadenopathy. We need to rule out some easy stuff, EBV, CMV HIV etc. Then we need to do more tests. As I know I can be straight with you, I’d say it’s a good chance, if the Viral stuff and other things we’ve just discussed are ruled out, you have Lymphoma of some kind.’
‘Lymphoma? The fuck is that? You mean like Hodgkin’s? Non-Hodgkin’s?’
‘Hmmm, maybe.’ ‘Let me make a call or 2, can you wait?’.
‘Sure, I gueeess’.
He picks up the phone and asks to speak with the Haemo Reg. A decently long conversation ensued where I learned that: -
He was asking for a referral to a Heamo Consultant
He was asking how quickly the Heamo Reg could see me
He was establishing that I could ’get into the system’ with some urgency
Some other medical shenanigans
That he actually knew the Haemo Reg, she was ‘the year under him at Med School’
They chatted about rotations. On my time, fucker!
She’d (the Haemo Reg) obviously stated that Haematology was her chosen path, comforting!
He stated that he was dissatisfied with GP work, aww fucking cheers mate. lets get a jildy on.
He stated that he was thinking of psychiatry, with a deliberate look at me, I can only assume a wee smirk underneath his mask.
She clearly asked him about Haemo, he said ’nah, far too difficult’. Aww cheers again fuckface, klets get cracking.
They exchanged pleasantries waaaay more than they should’ve. C'mon man, I have places to be, people to see and all that.
He hung up and looked at me.
He was silent, deliberately. Then fucking waited for me to fill the silence like he knew I would.
‘Look mate, Anna was at Med-school. She’s lovely. She’s under a guy called (I’m trying not to mention names). I don’t know him, but he has an excellent reputation. you choof off and what’s going to happen is….’
‘You’ll need a series of tests. Each test is more to rule things out than in, in the initial stages. You’ll now be under the care of his team, and Anna. Please, if you don’t mind, keep me posted.
‘What? Whaaat? What the fuck Dr?’.
‘Look mate, as I said, I reckon it’s a Lymphoproliferative disorder of some type.’
Me thinking to myself…. why the fuck does he keep saying that, does he like saying it, is he trying to be smart with a big word, what even is that?
‘It’s not my job to diagnose this stuff. As we’ve discussed, re my potential change to Psych; GPs are just traffic cops here. We see runny noses, kids that spew and stick our finger up arses of blokes like you. We see all manner of what is ‘normal’, and most of it isn’t that pleasant or exciting if truth be told. We generally provide care for people who are mostly ‘fine’. We issue 'scripts, people go on their way, and we never really learn what’s happened/ happening to most of our patients until they return with the next runny nose, cough, or requirement for another fingering.’
‘Ok, I get it. But come on, mate, we’ve got to know each other; what’s your take?’
‘If I were a betting man, I’d say you have Lymphoma of some variety'.
‘There are more types of Lymphoma than I can recall right now, but given what we’re feeling/ seeing and initial blood tests, I’d say you could be in for some pretty intensive medicine and a longish course of treatment.’
‘Ok. So, don’t ignore this one?’
“What do you mean, don’t ignore it. Come on, Dr hit me with it.’
‘There’s nothing else to say, he said.
‘It’s NOT my job, and even if it was, we need some tests to isolate the issue. Although I will say, knowing you……strap yourself in, this will take a few days to a couple of weeks to get the necessary tests done.’
‘They’ll be in touch. Call me anytime and leave a message if I can’t speak’.
To be continued….