Sunday, July 14, 2013

What tomorrow brought

The mystery has been solved!  I hope.

*disclaimer: this post has medical stuff that might be TMI for some folks*

So, starting over a year ago, I started having crippling pain.  With my Crohn's, pain is not in itself unusual, and my gallbladder was acting up as well.  However, this was an odd pain, and although I self diagnosed (never a good idea) with some random inflammatory thing that nothing could be done about, I went to a series of clinics, ERs, and doctors to try to figure it out.  The ultrasound I had in the fall indicated a benign condition that I decided might possibly account for my pain.  After our wedding (oh yeah, I got married this spring and landed myself a family in the Poconos!) I went through a decline that was impossible to ignore.

After I got myself a new, top rated doctor only an hour and a half away for my Crohn's, I set about healthgrades looking for a (hopefully closer) doctor to help me with my mystery pain.  Now, I don't know how rare this is, but I found a D.O. that specializes in both Urology and Gynocology.  Since I wasn't myself sure what the heck was going on, I thought he would be perfect to solve the mystery.  Didn't take much.  One exam and one set of ultrasounds later, "Congratulations, you're growing a little monster!"  Okay, he didn't say that, but he should have.  It's a dermoid ovarian cyst, apparently the little bugger finally got large enough to be seen properly on my ultrasound.  Who knows, maybe it was on my CT scan they charged me hundreds for last summer in the ER, but the bastards never delivered the results to the doctors I was seeing in Arizona last fall.  Unless I will bleed out by driving an extra 20 miles to the next closest ER, I am never setting foot in that crappy place again.

Anyways.  Dermoid ovarian cyst.  Accounts for my symptoms, and even some I had attributed to my Crohn's.  Really threw me for a loop, having considered myself relatively in tune with what could go wrong and has gone wrong with my body.  I even know someone who had a massive one of these suckers removed in high school, and I never considered it.  Now, I don't know if you've seen the movie Critters, it's this horrible 1980s comedy horror movie, but basically they are like tribbles with teeth.  That's the firm mental image I've got for this nasty thing growing inside me, pushing on everything it can.  So, unlike the usual relief that comes with finally getting a diagnosis, I'm counting down the days to surgery (which I would normally be terrified of) and my imagination is running away with thoughts of  this thing gnawing at my insides with its hair and teeth.  Sorry, hope you weren't eating breakfast.

Guess I should go back to writing papers and applying for jobs.  My brain clearly needs something better to occupy itself with.  Now I just need to stay off of the medical journals...

Friday, June 28, 2013

The bucket list

There's an odd feeling when you cross an item off your bucket list, and last year was a big one.  As part of my cross-country adventures, I finished my goal of visiting all 50 states in the U.S. (and Puerto Rico too).  Ending with Florida.  As I stepped out onto the beach, facing the Gulf of Mexico, I pondered not only the strangely warm water, but that this was the farthest south in the country I'd been, and it was my last state.

A year ago, my carefully planned route was listed here.  The "Southern Segment" from Pennsylvania to Arizona was carried out pretty much to plan, with the addition of a detour up to Hot Springs, at the welcome insistence of my Aunt.  But the "Western Segment" never quite came.  You see, last year not only had adventure and the challenges of facing hours of being alone with only a very well behaved Australian Shepherd and some audio books in between the highs of social interaction with dear friends and family, but it also had physical challenges.

An improperly diagnosed infection threatened to sideline me, but I still launched into the Southern Segment, willing myself to improve and not be shut down by the side effects of various medications.

It was worth it to go white water rafting with my cousin in Charlotte, to spend a day wilting in Savannah with my dog, to go on banana yellow speed boat adventures to isolated beaches with old friends and their children in Naples.  To visit other friends in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and have the most perfect pot of tea with a much needed productive day in my friend's lab on campus.  To struggle with getting my hydrophobic dog back into a pontoon boat in Arkansas, to meet new friends at delicious barbeque found at a gas station in Austin.  To catch up with an old friend in the little town of Fredericksburg, reminding me that there are happy little corners where you least expect to find them.  To power through the long drive to a decadent hotel room in Las Cruces before the last stretch to the oasis of my mother's home in verdant Green Valley.

But that took the last of what I had.  It was time to rest, heal, and work.  And figure out where to set down roots.  The 50 states were done, even if the last segment of the epic road trip didn't lead me full circle.  You never can tell where life will take you, and that's my reason for embracing a bucket list with the best of intent of experiencing opportunities as they present themselves.  For you can never tell what tomorrow will bring.