Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another of those update thingies

So, after almost two months, I finally got to see my PCP today. (That's still "Primary Care Physician" and not the drug of old, folks.) My last appointment had to be canceled for some mysterious reason, and the next available date was a month after that. My PCP is a popular guy, and with good reason.

Y'see, my PCP is a doctor that cares. He sits, he listens, he explains, and then he takes the appropriate action.

For example, I've been having a little problem with my foot in a cast for so long. I am under the perpetual fear I'll get a cramp, and when there's even a little room inside the cast, my foot starts trying to work its way out of it. I can't get my foot out; that's the whole point. But tell that to my subconscious when I'm sitting at my computer, doing whatever it is I'm doing. That's a problem unto itself, as I'm supposed to be resting.

So I bring this up with my PCP, and state that while I may be on Xanax for my anxiety issues, that drug doesn't have the skeletal/muscular relaxation that can be found in Valium. If I were to be given a temporary prescription of Valium to address my restless foot, potential muscle cramps, and anxiety, I could kill multiple birds with one pill.

If I make a sound case with my doctor and he'll work with me. If I were to sit there and simply scream, "GIMME DRUGS!", I think he'd have me escorted out by security. He sat...He listened...He agreed with my layman's knowledge of the named drug...And he prescribed it to help me with my current issue. He also gave my oxycodone a 5 mg. boost because of increasing pain in my hips, which we hope to address in the near future. Finally, I'll be getting a referral to a neurologist.

Here's the thing...I have no idea what a neurologist can really do for me. I have a disease of the nervous system. It's degenerative. I'm already on the only drug that I KNOW works. But I'll go because that's what the special specialist wants me to do, and my PCP is in agreement.

Now if you missed my worried monologue some time ago, I had a white blood cell test done that brought about a fear that something horrible was happening inside my lungs. I mean, one glance at the pictures made it seem like the lower half of both lungs had lit up like stars on the blackest night, and that prompted Becky and I have to have a serious chat about what to do if I had any serious illness of the lungs. Fear is a terrible thing to live with, so I did my best to simply ignore it...but not so much as to forget to discuss it with my doctor.

Well, it turns out that it was NOT my lungs. It's my spleen and my liver, which are directly behind the lungs, and they're expected to light up like that because of the garbage they filter out. As for why my bladder was aglow, (what I've been jokingly calling "my uterus"), it wasn't bright enough to cause any concern. Just to be sure, he took a careful listen to my lungs, and they still sound remarkably clear for a guy smoking for 24 years. Go figure.

So for a guy in not-so-great health, I'm okay. I'm still facing several medical issues, but I AM facing them, and doing my best not to let them rule my life.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!


"Blue" said...

I just wanted to comment something real quick... something I should have commented earlier, but I haven't been especially well and I was like "Okay... I'll do this later when I feel better" and due to one thing or another, it kind of slipped my mind.

Anyways. You mentioned earlier that you probably don't need to worry about cancer because it's a genetic disorder and none in your family had that particular cancer.

That's not entirely accurate.

Cancer is basically when something goes wrong in a cell's division. Normally, the life cycle of a cell- its birth, life and death, is a very controlled thing. This is why tissues grow only in certain areas and certain sizes. With cancer, something goes wrong, and cells start multiplying totally out of control, like weeds, choking out the normal cells. These cells are wrong in more than just their division: their metabolism is also haywire (hence why they can be sort of targetted by some therapies with "minimal" damage to surrounding tissue) most of the time.

There are many reasons why cells may make mistakes like that, and, in fact, they very well may be making those mistakes right now in your body and in mine. Thing is, when they do go haywire like that, the body recognizes them as foreign and promptly eliminates them. It is only when the growth passes (somehow or the other) unnoticed by the immune system that it becomes the illness known as cancer.

The MAIN reason for cells becoming cancerous has little to do with genetics. It has to do with damage to the DNA. Nicotine is one major damage-dealer. It is also linked to some NASTY cancers. Lungs is the obvious one. But there's also mouth cancer (A friend of my mother's had an uncle who died of this one... he lost the lower part of his mandible and had to be fed through a tube the last months of his life), tongue cancer (I guess it might count as mouth?), throat cancer, and, surprisingly, colon cancer (a chronically-smoking uncle of mine died of this one. After YEARS of horrible agony, losing part of his colon and having to wear a little bag to contain the intestinal wastes... it was heart-breaking to see, I'm almost in tears recalling the last time I saw him...), not to mention it does terrible things to blood pressure and such (my mother's father died of THIS one. He also had, apparently, untreated diabetes, which is, we think, what mixed badly with nicotine to produce the deadly heart attack that took his life).

Cancer is a genetic disorder in so far as the fact that the propensity to make those mistakes is linked to certain genes which are indeed inherited. But the genetic factor is ONLY a risk factor. Genetic diseases are things that are carried down as illnesses. Cancer is NOT that. Genetics doesn't cause it. It only increases your chances (and not as much as other risk factors, mainly the damage-dealers).

You're starting a new life with Becky. I know she probably doesn't mind you smoking, but seriously, Rob. Think about it. You got enough going on health-wise. Do you REALLY want to increase the chances, at all, of getting it worse? The agony my uncle suffered... my uncle, a strong, HEALTHY man until cancer took him... he was in pain, like you, unbearable, not even morphine helped. Nothing did. You already know pain of that category. Do you want, even a 0.00000001% HIGHER chance of adding a problem like that to the mix? You owe it to yourself and to Becky and to your future family to try to make your life as long as possible. Please, please don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you don't have that kind of cancer in your family means you can't get it. No one aside from my uncle had THAT kind of cancer, after all. Like I said, it's NOT a genetic illness. Genetics is only a risk factor and the disease is caused by DAMAGE to the DNA.

I worry about you, Rob, even if I barely ever say anything...

Zeb The Troll said...

Rob, I couldn't agree more with Blue, here.

This is something about your health that you can control. You can say that it's hard to quit. It is. I know. I smoked for 25 years before stubbing my last butt. But I did quit and so can you.

You can explain to whomever will listen the many ways that quitting is difficult and why this method or that method won't work for you. These are excuses, they are not reasons. There is no reason to continue smoking, there are only excuses. Oh, I'll grant you that many of them are compelling, but in the end, its you versus the pack and you can't let the pack win.

If you're interested in hearing how I did it without any medical or counseling assistance, let me know. What worked for me may not work best for you, but you've got to do something to at least get started on the path to being smoke free. You owe it to Becky and your future kids, you owe it to your pocketbook, and you owe it to yourself.