You’re Old, You’re Rude, And Oh Yeah, You Smell

Just a routine thing, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. It was one of those “oh you’re out of refills on your meds and you need blood work to make sure your brain is still intact” kind of things. The kind of thing that really could have been done over the phone, save for the lab work, but for some reason the docs want to actually see you once in a while.

I got there 45 minutes early—I left the house early in case I had a hard time finding parking at the base hospital, which is a common occurrence—and my doc was running about an hour behind. I had a book with me, so that really wasn’t a big deal. I’m a third of the way through Orson Scott Card’s book Xeoncide and figured I could immerse myself in it, and never notice the time that would otherwise drag by. No, I wasn’t particularly upset that the doc was so far behind; he’s a very thorough physician, and he deals with high risk and very sick patients. I could wait.

So I settled back, excited to pick up where I’d left off in the book, and then noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a very pale and seemingly terrified woman to my right. She was clutching the strap on her purse like a lifeline, staring vacantly ahead. Normally I would have sighed, wondered what was wrong, and would have gone back to my book, but the annoying little voice that sometimes pokes at me from the back of my head told me to say something to her.

So I did. I asked if she was all right, and did I need to get someone for her?

She shook her head no, and managed to croak out that she’d just gotten some bad news, and she was trying to digest it. So I asked again if there was anything I could do—and she let it out in one long gush.

The long and short of it; she’d just been told she had a pituitary tumor, and she was scared. Terrified. Her doctor had spoken with at length about it, but after hearing “brain” and “tumor” in the same sentence, she sort of shut down. She heard that she needed to go to the endocrinology clinic, but that was about it.

I know the feeling.

I put the book down—it’ll be there tonight when I decide to curl up in a comfy chair and read—and told her that I’d gone through the whole pituitary tumor thing, and I could tell her what it was like for me. We talked for a long time; while I’m not a doctor or any kind of medical professional, I could at least tell her the things to expect along the way, and share with her websites she could visit, what the surgery was like, and what I’d learned about tumors other than the type I had. Hers sounded like a Prolactinoma, and a small one at that. Small enough that they’ll most likely treat it with steroids and not yank it out. I didn’t promise that, I couldn’t, but knowing that in the grand scheme of pituitary tumors her was small and fairly common, she relaxed a whole lot.

She also has my email address, in case she needs someone to talk to again. And hopefully she’ll be able to get someone to go with her to her next appointment, someone who can hear what she doesn’t.

(As an aside: I read a couple years ago that when you get bad medical news, you only hear 10% of what you’re told after that point…I can believe it.)

So I finally get called back to see my doc; my labs looked good, but the Growth Hormone levels were still out, so he’ll get back to me on that. If it’s low, I’ll increase my dose; if it’s normal, I won’t. Very Simple. And he had to call the lab to see if they still had some of my blood, because there was no thyroid function listed…he suspects that will be fine, too, since historically it has been.

He didn’t even say I needed another MRI. So all in all, it was very good news for me today. I did need refills on all my medications, so he put those into the computer and sent me off on my merry way…

…to the hospital pharmacy, and the waiting room was packed to the rafters. I took a number, sat down with my book, and waited. My number was 560, and they were on 520…it could have been a very long wait, but they were calling out numbers right and left, and it was only 15 minutes or so before they called me up. I would have been out of there in 2 minutes, but they were missing my HGH, and needed to see if there was any in the hospital.

So back down I sat. Right next to this very old woman, who reeked of two to three weeks of not bathing. And almost as soon as I sat down, she started.

“This system is awful. They keep calling the same numbers, and I’ve been waiting her forever. They need to change the system. These people are stupid and slow…”

And on and on she went. I told her I thought the system worked just fine; before they changed it, my wait might have been 2 hours. Fifteen minutes was perfectly acceptable, especially considering how packed the place was.

But she kept on…and on…and on. I finally turned my back to both her attitude, and her smell.

I swear, I hope that when I reach that age, I’m not that bitter, nor that mean. I’m sure there was a reason for the way she was, but I never want to be that person.

Doesn’t matter. I had a good day. I selfishly feel good about being able to make someone else feel better, I was happy to get all good news from my doc, and even happier that it doesn’t appear that they’re going to shove me into that overgrown lipstick tube that they keep hidden in the hospital basement. :)

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