Sunday, June 1, 2008

'Any unexpected weight loss?'

Michelle actually laughed out loud when the admitting clerk asked me that question today at the Maine Medical Center. No, I said over the cackling, if anything I've got the opposite problem.

We weren't there for my weight -- loss or gain -- but because at the Brunswick, Maine, Starbucks Michelle noticed some swelling over my right eye and got worried. It's true, I had noticed the same swelling, and also had experienced some dizziness and nausea Saturday night beyond what I would normally expect at this stage of my chemo round. So, over my objections that it wasn't worth a hospital visit, we turned around, blew off the search for Maine's perfect lobster roll, and headed to Portland's big freeway-side hospital.

Because it was Sunday our only option was going to the Emergency Ward, which seemed extra goofy. After being screened and admitted, I was put on a stretcher in a hallway marked "triage," which I found doubly embarrassing as a parade of Mainians with actual emergencies -- a baseball player who missed a pop fly and took it in the eye, an older woman who apparently had heat stroke on the tennis court, some bleeding kids -- cooled their heels.

At one point some EMTs brought in a guy on an ambulance gurney who didn't look good -- a drugged, vacant look and a fresh wrap of some kind on his arm -- and there wasn't a stretcher available. I offered to give mine up, but they wouldn't hear of it. The poor guy had to wait, and the EMTs with him, while I was there with, essentially, a hangnail.

When I was rolled into Emergency Room 5, Dr. Good (no joke) came in to see me and we explained the symptoms, such as they were. She made a concerned face and went to fetch a consulting doc, who chatted us up about primo lobster rolls and hiking in the Northwest ("I always say Washington is like Maine on steroids").

A nurse came in to draw some blood, but she couldn't seem to do it right, and she lectured me about traveling without my complete medical records and about the need to avoid salt and wine. Yeah, thanks, I said, I'll try to remember to talk to my real doctor about that when I get home. I think my sarcasm was lost on her.

The eyelid swelling could be this, it could be that, my new medical team said. Maybe we should do a CAT scan. Ok, we waited some more, and then they wheeled me in to radiology. After the machine did its thing the tech lady said, "Looks like you've had some brain work done." Yes. I explained about the surgeries and, blah blah blah, the tumors.

"Oooh, benign, I hope," she said. No, I told her. Malignant. I let that hang in the air for a minute. Not a glioma, I hope, she said.

Anyway, six hours after we arrived, it turned out my brain isn't leaking into my eyeball or vice versa. I maybe, possibly, have cellulitis, which isn't something to be removed from your fat legs but a skin infection. They prescribed some antibiotics, which I may or may not take. I'm going to call my real doctor first.

Meantime, no lobster rolls today. We said poopy to Maine and skedaddled out of there, landing tonight at a Best Western near Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts.

Thoreau never visited Maine Medical Center, as far as I know. But he did write this: "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

Tomorrow, for something totally different, we're planning on driving to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Elaine said...


I've spent a fair amount of time in hospitals and ER's and some of the things that come out of the mouths of the medical staff are just amazing.

I am glad you are ok.

Elaine (yes, PInckney. . . I've been lurking!)

Ronelle said...

Michelle - you are care giver extraordinaire! THANKS!
Mark -I am glad it was no big deal after some aggravation. Kiss Michelle for her watchful eye and persistance.
I LOVE CONCORD - can't you just hear Paul Rivere calling to you?
I wish I was there too. I opened the pool yesterday -I will send some pics. Don't you want to come back?

Mark said...

Ronelle, thanks for the invite, and the pool sounds wonderful. I think, though, that we should stick with the fundamental rule of Pie in the Sky: Ahead!

Michelle's a big worrywart, but better safe than sorry. I even broke down and thanked her last night.

Elaine, thank you for coming out of the shadows and joining this goofy bunch. It's nice to hear from you. Where are you now and what are you doing?

freda said...

Michelle is very sensible, preventive care is always better than trying to fix something after it is too late. good for you Michelle. did you get your "real" doc? are you taking your antibiotics?

Rita said...

What a switch from perfect lobster rolls!!!

Good call, Michelle. Hope you've talked to your doctor, Mark, and mostly hope you're feeling okay.
(Skin infections and antibiotics make me wonder about the stupid biting midges of Florida.)

Enjoy Cooperstown. Sounds great.

Elaine said...


You and Michelle have a great blog. I was always curious about where your life took you, (if you ever wrote that book!?) No one at the 20 year reunion could fill me in. Anyway, I found your blog . . .

I am living in Phoenix, AZ and raising my sons, Connor (12) and Chase (9). My husband passed away from non-hodgkins lymphoma 4 years ago. We had 20 great years together and I feel so lucky to have that in my life and to have my boys.

I will continue to lurk if you don't mind. If you guys are ever in the Phoenix area I'd love to see you and meet MIchelle. Your life seems full and happy with great family and friends. That is all any of us can ask for.


Mark said...

Elaine, thanks for the nice note. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband.

I don't think we're going to make it to Phoenix on this trip, but if our plans chance it would be nice to get together and reconnect.

Feel free to lurk here or chime in as you wish. It's a blog about nothing, with a readership to match, but we all enjoy each other's company.