Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekend House Call

When you get a phone call from your doctor—not the receptionist, but from your actual doctor—it can catch you off-guard.

When your doctor calls you on a Saturday, to tell you about the results of your tests, it's not unusual to get a little tense.

It couldn't be good news, could it? Surely, good news could wait until Monday.

I have a great doctor, who left no stone un-turned when I had abdominal issues earlier this year. She ordered ultrasound tests, a CT scan, an MRI, and a colonoscopy. She wanted to make sure that I didn't have cancer or some other serious ailment.

I had also complained to her, when we first met at the end of December (after I decided to change doctors), that I have problems sleeping: that test is coming in a couple of weeks.

So, when my doctor called me with the results of my recent MRI and colonoscopy, I was initially expecting the news to be bad, but instead, she gave me some good news. Two pieces of good news, in fact.

And one piece of news that was just a little distressing.

First, the good news: the mass on my liver is a cluster of blood vessels. They are gathered in a clump that is about a centimetre in diameter. Apparently, this can be a common formation and they pose no threat. No action is required to treat them.

The initial report on my colonoscopy is good: two polyps were found and removed, and everything else looks clear. My doctor is still awaiting the full report to see if a follow-up visit is needed but she doesn't think that is going to happen.

I was relieved. We agreed that the pain and fatigue that had brought me down for more than two months could have been a virus, but there's no way to know for sure. But there's nothing in me that says I have a serious issue and the fact that I'm feeling back to normal seems to support that whatever I had is gone.

But now, for the not-so-great news.

For a few months, I have had a problem with my left foot. I have severe osteoarthritis in both of my feet, and about 25 years ago I had reconstructive surgery on my right foot for what was diagnosed as Köhler disease, which essentially fused some of the bones. I was diagnosed with it in my early teens, but it was decided that we should wait to see how my feet would fully develop, that perhaps surgery was not necessary.

It was necessary, and I had it done in my early to mid 20s.

Over the past few months, my left foot has made a clicking sound when I walk, and I can feel bone grinding on bone. The pain has been bad: sometimes, when I take an initial step forward, there is a loud popping sound and I lose my balance, and wince at the pain, but I have been taking Tylenol to mitigate it.

After my colonoscopy, I went to our neighborhood clinic, where I had the foot x-rayed. It was one of the issues that I had recently brought up with my doctor, and she had written me a requisition for an x-ray.

This is the reason that my doctor chose to call me on Saturday. She did have some good news, to help with the call, but the real reason was that she had some news that she thought we should act upon. The x-rays revealed that I have severe joint deterioration, which will, in all likelihood, adversely affect my circulation in my foot.

It's a rare condition, called Mueller-Weiss syndrome.

It can be treated, but not without surgery.

While I'm glad that the problem can be fixed, I'm not looking forward to the surgery. When my right foot was rebuilt, the first operation didn't work and I had to have surgery twice. It was a long, painful recovery in which it took three years before I could walk properly.

So, that's the story with my health, that's why my doctor called me, personally, on a Saturday afternoon. It's good news in that I'll be around for years to come. I'll just be doing it slowly.

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