Thursday, August 29, 2002

This Is What I Get for Talking about Medical Specimens

That’s a funny place for a bruise. Inner thigh, high up. . . . No discoloration, but a walnut-sized lump definitely tender to the touch.

That was Tuesday morning around 5:30 AM, when I got up to go to the bathroom. By the time I got ready for work, the thing had grown and hardened. It felt like a flattened cone. The tip was half an inch under the skin, a smooth expanse bigger than the walnut. The rest of it widened to a mass wider than my hand — big, hot, painful. A hell of a bruise. Hmmm.

After some thought, I talked to Michele about it. She made me promise to get to a doctor if it didn’t improve. All day, whenever I left my desk I was aware of it, because it hurt. I talked to a doctor. Could be thrombophlebitis or a deep-vein thrombosis, a blood clot caught in the leg vein, which has obvious risks. So I spent last evening in the Kaiser urgent-care center, waiting, being examined, waiting, getting an ultrasound, waiting, getting a prescription for an antibiotic.

The good news is that it isn’t a clot. Probably either a cyst or a lipoma. The bad news is that whatever it is, it’s (A) painful and (B) going to need further tests and poking around. And I loathe that. I don’t worry about dying. What bothers me is being in the hands of the medical world. And I admit that my guess is that this isn’t a cyst (weird place for a cyst, deep in muscle tissue). I bet it’s a lipoma, because they run in the family, I’ve had one before, and they tend to recur.

Nine years ago, my annual pelvic exam was enlivened when the doctor discovered a mass in my belly. After a couple of months of tests (X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, IVP), a tumor the size of a canteloupe was removed. It was first diagnosed as a liposarcoma, a slow-growing and exceedingly rare cancer. After further testing, though, the tumor was reclassified as a lipoma. Still, they followed me up for three years, just in case.

I am not looking forward to going through this all again.

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