The Tuesday afternoon consult with the surgeon has come and gone, and I now have $17 less in my bank account (babysitter and parking the car fees), and no surgery date in sight. I’ve written about my gripes with the aching slowness of the medical system before. I won’t repeat myself here. But I am miffed.
Make that double miffed (or for you Tim Horton’s fans, double-double miffed).
You see, this consult was presented to me by Nephrologist A as an opportunity to meet the surgeon and review the details of the impending lymphocele operation. By the conversation with the nephrologist, I understood that surgical intervention to drain this three month old lump o’ lump had been deemed a necessity. Well, that’s not what transpired. Nope.
Now, I understand that surgeons need to be cautious when potentially planning to cut someone open. I get that. In fact, I appreciate a degree of hesitation; I would be concerned if a surgeon appeared overly eager to use surgical tools (aka: razor-sharp knives) on me. But this particular lymphocele procedure would be laparoscopic, so while still “mucking around” with my insides, no large incisions would occur. All that said, it doesn’t look like I’m undergoing lymphocele drainage surgery, laparoscopic or not, any time soon.
My healthcare let’s-deal-with-the-lump plan has changed yet again. If anything, I am (unwillingly) learning to be flexible when it comes to the medical strategy regarding anything to do with getting rid of this dang lymphocele. And, unfortunately, I am likewise learning that, despite my best efforts, I am sometimes a bystander in my own health care plan.
Thanks to meeting with the surgeon, the most current strategy is not surgery, but to now get a CT scan and then a short-term lymphocele drainage tube inserted. The CT scan would be to gain a better visual of the lymphocele, as the previous (four) abdominal ultrasounds didn’t show it adequately enough to decide whether or not surgery is the best option*.
I am admittedly less happy about the second part of this new plan: yet another drainage tube.
I don't want one more tube jutting out of me and a drainage bag dangling at my side. It is humiliating. Over the course of the past nearly four months since the transplant, my vanity has been kicked down and dirt rubbed in its face. It's been a hard-fought struggle to re-gain a semblance of feeling attractive enough even just to be seen in public**.
So I am miffed. I wanted/didn't want but was (begrudgingly) willing to undergo surgery to finally be rid of this lymphocele. If the new drainage tube does not work adequately, then surgery is yet an option. But, as anyone in the medical system knows, all these test and procedures take time to schedule and undergo. The medical system is a slow-moving machine.***
*Indeed, during the consult, I saw the latest images, and I would have to agree that the pictures do appear fuzzy. But I’m not a medical professional. To me, most ultrasound results look like drunk black and white abstract paintings.
**Here's my confession of the evening: while social isolation after a transplant is necessary due to tremendous immunosuppression, I admit that during those first weeks, I was relieved to have an excuse not to socialize. This lack of desire to see people in person stemmed from both an overwhelming grief regarding the transplant and a deep embarrassment about how I looked.
***I (unintentionally) lied. I said at the beginning of this post that I would not gripe about the slowness of our medical system. Oops.