Bittersweet Sympathy

June 6, 2011

We missed a call from the thoracic surgeon.  He called barely 30 minutes after we left his office and left a voicemail letting us know we have to come back to his office on Monday.  I didn’t quite know what to make of this.  Nevertheless, my dad, Erica and I were going back on Monday.

I left work early to go to the appointment.  Just another appointment, like we’ve done so many times the past couple of weeks.  The doctor came into the room to explain why he needed us back right away.  After we left his office, late Friday afternoon, he rushed over to his radiologist to review my CT scan.  He was deeply concerned with what he saw.  I will always remember this moment.  It was intense, it was surreal.  You could feel the intensity in his eyes as he explained with resounding conviction: he thinks the mass is malignant, too big to be benign…it’s huge.

He talked about the fluid around my lung, but his main concern was my heart.  There’s a lot of fluid around my heart (pericardial effusion).  On average, a person has about 30-40 ccs of fluid around the heart, but I’m carrying what looks to be about 300 ccs.  This could possibly lead to a more serious condition known as, Tamponade.  Apparently, not the olive spread.  This causes strain on the heart and possibly surgery would be needed to remove the fluid.  Right at that moment, it felt like my heart was carrying a lot more than 300 ccs of fluid.  He assured us that he doesn’t mess around.  When he knows something is serious, he doesn’t waste any time and it showed.

We knew the mass was big and we knew the about the fluid around my lungs.  We knew it was serious, but we never got a sense of urgency from any of the doctors.  Until now.  He comforted us by freaking us out.  Actually, it was refreshing.  Finally a doctor that felt my condition was critical.  He seemed genuinely concerned and wanted to get things moving right away.  It was hard news to take, but it was what we were looking for from all these doctors.

He scheduled the biopsy and another thoracentesis first thing the next morning.  He wouldn’t be doing the procedure himself, but highly recommended this surgeon.  He also mentioned something about this surgeon.  I couldn’t remember exactly what he said about him.  Something about the way he looks or something.  Nevertheless, it was go time!

2 thoughts on “Bittersweet Sympathy

  1. Jeff,
    You missed your calling…you should have been a writer. Robert is an internist and said this blog was helpful for next time he does a thoracentesis…he’ll be more conscientious. We are praying for you and you can call us anytime at home or page Robert with on the fly questions…no time is a bad time. Julia has my number. We were inspired by your writing and think you should get published. You can call us about that too :) Marina (friend of Julia Goolia’s)

  2. Jeff, I have a agree with Marina and I just want you to know healing energy is being sent your way from Lafayette California.

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