I have been missing in action. I admit it. The weekend was a handful and the week has been a strange trip. The fiance’ has been on my back for a while to make a doctor’s appointment. For the last month or two my left arm has been doing something strange that we both referred to as “the claw”. If I made a fist or propped up too long, my hand would lose all strength and start to curl in on itself. The arm would go all pins and needles and feel cold to the touch. It was disturbing enough to be something I preferred to ignore. But a few minutes later all would be back to normal. No harm, no foul, right?
But really, it was enough out of the ordinary to force me to violate my “I only go to the doctor if I’m bleeding or bones are showing” theory. Then the other day in bed, he said “What’s this?” A little lump, about the size of a pea on my ribcage. It didn’t hurt, itch, or do anything but be lumpy really. It moved when I pushed on it. It was out of the ordinary.
I called and scheduled an appointment on short notice. I hid other than what I had to do at the office and googled every possibility. As of this morning, I convinced myself that it was multiple sclerosis and cancer. I talked to the fiance’ over breakfast and said that no matter what turned up, I wouldn’t blame him if he left me. Which made him almost snort coffee out his nose and tell me that I would be fine, and even if I wasn’t, we would figure it out. God, I love him.
When I got to the doctor, a med student came in to do intake. I was feeling pretty confident in his abilities while he asked all the right questions, did a series of push here/ pull here tests, and looked appropriately concerned. Then he turned to the computer. Oh, I thought, he has to enter this in my record. Nope. He googled my symptoms. I was googled. Which essentially convinced me that my time on WebMD qualifies me to practice medicine. He showed me various diagrams of nerves in the arm and asked which path my numbness seemed to follow. Then he checked out the lump, mumbled something about it probably being a lipoma and left to get my doctor.
Lipoma. Every bit of Latin I ever learned crammed into the front of my brain. Lipo was fat, I was pretty sure. Oma. Well, that didn’t sound good. Sarcoma, lymphoma, any -oma generally seemed to come with a bad ending as far as I could figure. But “fat cancer” didn’t seem right. Leave it to me, I thought. To get “fat cancer”. That would be fun to explain to people. I waited. I looked at the December Time magazine on the counter. I read the posters on bronchitis and circulatory problems and encouraging your children to get exercise. I counted seconds.
And then my doctor arrived. She ran me through the same battery of tests and began poking at my joints. Wherever she poked, it didn’t hurt. Until it did. Just along the bottom of my left elbow joint. And then she and the student doctor looked at one another. “Do you play golf?” she asked. Of course I don’t play golf. I haven’t played sports involving balls since that volleyball hit me on the head in gym class in ninth grade. “Well, nonetheless. You have ‘golf elbow’. You’ll be fine.” The problem- apparently I lean and strain my left elbow repeatedly which has either pinched a nerve or strained the tendon. The cure for both is not to do that anymore, and to exercise with a stress ball, gradually increasing the strength.
And the lump? I was actually kind of right (thanks Latin!). A lipoma is a fatty cyst. A perfectly harmless fatty cyst. She poked it, prodded it, and pronounced it “definitely not cancer. You’ll be fine.” Essentially, unless it starts to do the rhumba, I can leave it be. And it will do the same for me.
Which means that I have spent the week planning for how to make my house wheelchair accessible and when exactly to shave my head rather than see my hair fall out from the chemo. And I have golf elbow and a fat lump. Really sometimes I disgust myself. But next time, hopefully I’ll make the appointment sooner, giving me less time to dwell.
I called BC, mentioned I was cancer-free and was off for a beer and a celebration. And I hope everyone is lucky enough to have friends who can celebrate “not cancer” on a Thursday night. And who forgive a Saturday night blow-out over silly trivialities to celebrate each other on a moment’s notice.
Tomorrow it’s back to life as usual. And in the meantime, I can be glad I only have Friday to survive. Then I can spend the weekend celebrating some more. I am a very lucky woman. In more ways than one.