Between my Oncologist (Onc) and my Primary Care Physician (PCP), I have had more appointments with specialist doctors than I can remember. It’s probably a good thing because I’ve learned a lot. Now I can decide which branch of medicine I’d major in when I grow up. At the same time, going to and from these doctors and writing about them give me something to do, write about, and share with those who give a hoot.
The latest medical specialist who examined me was a gastroenterologist (GE), a doctor specialized in the human digestive system, which includes the esophagus, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, large intestines, small intestines, appendix, rectum, and anus. It makes me wonder, After dealing with those body parts steadily, does the good doctor eat soul food such as chitlins or the Filipino dish called “dinuguan?”
I am not a hypochondriac preoccupied with my and only my own health issues. My Onc had sent me to GE after the liver MRI specialist already declared there’s nothing wrong with my liver, in agreement with the CTscan radiologist. But no! My Onc had a need to know why a portion of my common bile duct is distended, even after I told him I’ve had that since the CO-1686 clinical trial three years ago and Dr Brevity never got excited about it. But Onc insisted, so off to GE I shuffled for my appointment.
What can we do for you today? asked the 20-something intake aide. I thought you’re going to tell me, I replied with a smile. She flipped through my record. It’s hard to find something if one does not know what one’s looking for. I asked her, Are you the Physician’s Assistant (PA)? The PA, like the Nursing Practitioner, is the closest thing to being a doctor. Oh no, she said. With nothing else to do, the intake aide asked me my weight and height, told me the PA will see me in a few minutes and then took off.
The wait for PA was more like 45 minutes. I suspected she was studying my medical records. PA, a 35ish Chinese beauty, came in seemingly happy. She had figured out the purpose of my appointment! It’s your common bile duct, she said. How long have you had that condition? Three years, I answered. She asked, And you’ve had no symptoms? Like, your urine is not cola colored? Your stool is not pale? To all her questions, I answered “no.” She instructed me to lie down face up on the examination bed. She poked hard at various points on my tummy to elicit a scream or screams. No screams occurred because nothing hurt me other than her painted fingernails. Finally exasperated, she said, I think an invasive procedure to find out what’s wrong with your common bile duct should not be done. It will do more harm than good. But I’ll ask GE. He has the final say on this matter. I’ll phone you as soon as I find out his decision. Great! I exclaimed. I resisted the urge to do a somersault to celebrate.
Do you drink alcohol? She asked as a parting shot. I answered, Yes, once a week at a dance in the retirement resort. It sounded like an innocent confession. Of course I minimized the fact that the dance event features a live band and BYOE or Bring Your Own Everything, which is wide open to interpretation, as in bring your own everything from the cellar. Thank goodness the dance is only from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. With the resort’s bus limo service, I make it to my manor upright every time.
The next day, PA phoned and told me GE said there’s no need to do anything with me. I said, Yes! and pumped my fist in the air.
Let me know what you think about GE or the weekly BYOE dance.