Thursday, July 5, 2018

Hobbley Flobbley, My Lymph Node

Here's a long, ridiculous story. Every part of it is ridiculous and it just keeps getting more ridiculous as time goes on. It starts more than a year ago. (Let me just say before you read further, because it might sound alarming, EVERYTHING IS FINE.)

Sometime in the early spring of 2017 I noticed that I had a swollen lymph node in my neck. I was only moderately concerned, so I did what I would do in almost every circumstance: nothing. I just waited for it to go away. It didn't go away, and I found another one under my chin shortly after, so Martin convinced me to see a doctor. The doctor was unconcerned, saying they felt okay, and they are likely being caused my my teeth, which have always had issues. I let it go for some months until one morning last July I woke up to find lots of my lymph nodes were puffed up and I thought, "Oh great. This is bad." I zipped off to my favorite urgent care with my favorite doctor and he showed legitimate concern and did a full blood panel, and when he came in and said my blood work looked PERFECT, my nerves celebrated. After awhile all those puffed nodes went down except for the original ones in my neck and under my chin, as well as the ones in my leg, which is really called "groin" which is a seriously creepy word, so I'm just going to say LEG.

Over the next six months I monitored them, asked my doctor about them, and eventually in December saw a surgeon to talk about removal. He also was largely unconcerned, saying they *could* be lymphoma, but probably weren't, however, if I wanted to have one taken out and checked it was a NoBigDeal surgery. I was glad to hear he thought they were nothing and told him I'd think about it, and left. I didn't call him, but I did think about it, all through Christmas, all through spring, and into the summer. Eventually I realized that the not-knowing factor was eating me alive. I finally decided that even though it was probably nothing, it was definitely not worth the anxiety of keeping it. So in June I went back to see the surgeon. (Super nice guy!) He again gave me peace of mind, but understood if I wanted it looked at just to be certain, and I did, so a few days later on a Friday I went in and he and his nurse, Mary (WONDERFUL MARY) just cut that little bean right out of my leg and sent it off to pathology. The procedure was nothing--no worse than having a cavity filled, except better because instead of having my mouth propped open, I got to chat about gardens and children while they worked on me. I can be a chatty patient.

This is where it gets obnoxious. The weekend was fine, my leg hardly hurt at all. It was just a scratchy-bruisey feeling. I went on with my life, and it seemed to be healing up nicely until about the middle of last week when it seemed to have turned down Not So Fine Road. It was super swollen, rock-hard, and it was hurting a lot--the pain was spreading all down my leg. I called Mary and told her about it on Friday, exactly a week after the surgery--she said keep an eye on it for the weekend and if it still hurt on Monday to call her back. Well, it did still hurt on Monday but I didn't call, because I'm one of those idiots who thinks, "maybe it will be better tomorrow..." (which is never is.) By Monday night I could see that my healing had veered onto Infection Avenue and on Tuesday I called Mary again. She was very apologetic about the doctor not being in until Thursday and agreed that it wasn't right to be still hurting this much after a week and a half, so she made me an appointment for Thursday afternoon, which was the earliest she could do. Meanwhile, I'm having a hard time walking and I can't invite my kids to sit on my lap, the pain is radiating everywhere. Still I was telling myself that it would probably be better the next day, but then before bed on Tuesday, a week and a half after having the lymph node removed, I got a little fever and the incision spot was super red and hot. I have no medical training but I've been alive in the world for long enough to know that fever + pain + red + hot = infection. I weighed my options and even though it was 9:00, which is bedtime, and the kids were getting ready for bed, I thought I could zip to the E.R. and get an antibiotic and be on the Healing Highway. I thought I'd be gone just an hour or two and it would be simple, and I'd be going before the crazies showed up at the ER.

Well, I was definitely right about the getting there before the crazies--when I arrived I was about the only person there, and during my three hours there the crazies definitely started showing up. I was wrong, however, about the people in the ER doing anything worthwhile or helping me in any way at all. Or even being nice people! They were super invasive and borderline rude and when I acted friendly toward the doctor she looked at me like I had three heads. They stuck a giant IV in my arm, drew a bunch of blood and did a freaking sonogram on my incision. I tried to converse with them and they were not having it. (Except the sonogram technician who was very sweet.) Martin was sending me texts that the girls were not going to sleep, not cooperating, and/or melting down. Greeeeaaat. I just wanted an antibiotic prescription and to be sent on my merry way, but that wasn't happening.

Three hours later, the doctor came back and told me there was nothing wrong with me and to take some Tylenol. WHAT?!? I said, are you sure?! I have a fever and this looks pretty infected?! She gave me a death glare and repeated what she'd said.

I. Was. Livid.

One of the grumpy, jaded young nurses came back and took my end of visit vitals and had the nerve to ask if my heart rate was always so high. I explained to her that I was pretty upset. She didn't care. I think she gave a weak "hmmm.... sooooorrryyyyyy..." under her breath.

So I struggled through the 4th of July, which was superbly boring, I binged on potato salad and green beans, and just simmered until today when I could go to my previously scheduled appointment with my surgeon, where I relayed (much more kindly) the Emergency Room experience and he was very surprised. He took one look at my incision and couldn't believe they'd told me to just take Tylenol. He called in a prescription for an antibiotic and drained the seroma that had formed. And while he said it's true that it hadn't become a terrible infection yet, it needed to be done because it wasn't going to get better the way things were going. Above all, he was SO KIND. He kept apologizing for this happening and told me I was handling it better than he would. He asked me if I was wishing for my lymph node back, and I told him honestly that I still am not--the stress of that little node was too much!

I could never be a surgeon or a nurse. Talk about nasty! They literally cut me open and drained old blood and fluid out of my *LEG* (if you've forgotten where this incident takes place, check the second paragraph.) So now I have a gaping wound that I HAVE TO PACK TWICE A DAY I AM SO GROSSED OUT, and I'm still furious about my emergency room visit, mostly because they just were so not nice to me. And also because I'm going to get a bill for millions of dollars that I don't have, for being told that nothing was wrong and that I should just take Tylenol. UGH! So mad! RAWR!

In the end, though, I'm still celebrating the glorious fact that the lymph node was totally normal (actually it was labeled "reactive" and nobody seems to know or care what's making it that way...) and my blood tests are all totally normal, because that news is totally worth the absolutely revolting wound packing that is going to be happening for the next few days.

So, if you've happened to have seen me hobbling around over the past week or so, now you know why! I kept it quiet to keep anyone from worrying, but now that I've had an *ANNOYING* experience, I needed to shout it out. SHOUT!