Lump in my throat


I have a lump in my throat.

It started in June or so. I thought it might be a cold, or a cold sore, or something like tonsillitis (I still have my tonsils).

Almost two months later, I still have a lump in my throat.

The other day, I gave in and went to my doctor. He wasn’t available, so I saw a nurse-practitioner instead. She was terrific, and tested me for everything under the sun.

Final (preliminary) diagnosis: it’s not bacterial. It’s just a lump.

Is it viral? Is it – um – cancerous? I don’t know yet. I will see a specialist soon. (I’m still tremendously relieved that it wasn’t something stupid and infectious like streptococcus.)

Maybe it’s the family inheritance: cancer.

Or just a cold sore in the wrong place.

Here’s a story:

Back in 1978, I traveled to the (then) Soviet Union with a tour group. We started in (then) Leningrad, and then split into two groups: my group went to the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the other group went to Siberia. We were to meet in Moscow about two weeks later.

In Moscow, one of my fellow travelers who’d gone to Siberia – a lively and funny woman – told me this: “A flea bit me on the eyelid while I was sleeping, and my eye swelled terribly. They took me to the hospital in Novosibirsk, and very evidently they had no idea what to do with me; I spent days in the hospital listening to doctors and nurses talking about me in Russian, and I had no idea what they were saying. Finally they brought in a translator, and I told him that a flea had bitten me, and he told the doctors, and they were very relieved. And the translator laughed, and told me: ‘They were very relieved. They were convinced they were going to have to amputate your eyelid.’”

Remember: even when you have a lump, it could always be worse. The doctors might amputate your eyelid.

Human frailty

I have my kidney stones, and my ischemia. I told you about my tennis elbow.

What else can go wrong?

We came back from France a few months ago, which means hoisting things in and out of overhead compartments on airplanes. Then, a few days after arrival, I went to the Providence Public Library without my sweet-little-old-lady library bag and came out with four heavy books and two “I LOVE MY LIBRARY” t-shirts. I walked for at least twenty minutes balancing thirty pounds of cargo – oh, that’s right, I stopped at CVS to buy some candy.

Two days later, my right shoulder began to ache.

Two days after that, I couldn’t raise my arm. I couldn’t put on a shirt without screaming with pain. I couldn’t lift a box of Junior Mints from the table.

I reconciled myself to this, though the blinding pain. I assured myself that I could make it through life somehow with one arm.

Then, after consulting WebMD and applying a heating pad and doing some physical-therapy exercises I learned from Partner, most of the pain went away.

It still twangs once in a while, and reminds me that it’s there. Naturally the words “rotator cuff” peal in my head.

And I remember what I heard a health professional say once: “Once you begin going downhill, you might slow down a bit here and there, or delay, but you never really stop going downhill.”

How cheerful!

Here’s a toast: to going downhill.

I hope the scenery along the way is nice.

The Supreme Court’s health care decision


Yesterday morning I was at the office, crawling under a desk to connect a telephone wire, when Partner called me. “The Supreme Court upheld health care!” he crowed. “Roberts voted with the liberals!”



I was so excited that I got up too quickly and bumped my head.



Seriously: I’m delighted. Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was a landmark piece of legislation, which finally put health care into the same category as education: everyone should have access to it, in the same way. No more marching poor people off to emergency rooms, where they can wait patiently like the paupers they are. No more hospitals amortizing the money they lose on emergency-room care by charging more for standard services. No more insurance companies charging inflated premiums because hospitals charge inflated rates.



Well, maybe not all at once. But a huge step in the right direction: the biggest step since Medicare.



The Right’s attempt to overturn the health care act was, for me, sick-making. They couched it as a moral and political issue: how dare the government tell us what to do?



Honey, they do it all the time: law enforcement, income tax. Get used to it. And this is for something good and well-intentioned.


I have seen, just last evening online, images of Obama burning the Constution. I also read online that a number of angry conservatives are Tweeting about moving to Canada, to escape the communist tyrant Obama. (Canada, get it? That place with free health care?) When it was pointed out to them that this made no sense, they claimed it was a joke. Really?  “I’m moving to Canada” means, to me, “I like the idea of free health care.” One said: “At least in Canada they’re openly socialist, unlike Obama who pretends to be a democratic leader.”



Yikes yikes yikes.



And here’s the best part: even if the Mayans are right and Romney becomes President, he will have a hell of a time overturning Obama’s legislation; he will never have a supermajority in either house, and Democrats will filibuster him to death on the issue.



And the American people, in the meantime, will discover that it’s nice to have health care, and the polls will turn in favor of health care.



And you know how Mitt Romney feels about polls, and about agreeing with the majority.



I got up yesterday morning thinking it was going to be a sucky day. And it turned out to be a great day for America.



Who knew?


Clinical trials


The evil pollen arrived early this year.  Everything bloomed out of season: the forsythia, the cherries, the dogwood. And every year my allergies get worse.  I used to get a mild cold in the springtime, and thought nothing of it.  Then I realized it was allergies, because it was always at the same time every year. (I keep a diary, so it’s easy to check these things.) 



I normally soldier through with no pharmaceuticals, but this year I felt a little frail, so one day I took a Claritin (loratidine), on Partner’s advice.  No result.  (I know these things are supposed to take time to build up in your system, but I’m looking for immediate relief, you know?)



“Nah,” Paul the Brown shuttle driver said.  “Zyrtec.”



So that evening I went shopping for drugs.  I bought some CVS-generic Zyrtec (a dollar a pill!) and some CVS-generic Benadryl (much cheaper).



Next morning I took a generic Zyrtec, AKA cetirizine. Nothing. Again, Then I realized that I was getting lively and intense, and I though, Oh god, here it comes.  (Antihistamines make most people sleepy; some of us, the really lucky ones, react as if we’d had a shot of adrenaline  It’s artificial energy, and I end up exhausted at the end of the day, when the pill wears off.) 



The following morning: generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine).  Immediate effect: it dried me out right away.  I was still coughing, but my throat felt tight and nasty.  And there was that same rush of fake adrenaline energy.  (Luckily it went away in a few hours.)



“Why do you do this to yourself?” my friend Cathleen said to me the other day.



“Clinical trials,” I said. “I need to find out what works. I’m my own test subject.”



She groaned and shook her head.



Following day: no drugs.  I gave up.  And you know what?  I felt much better. It was cooler, that’s true, and there was probably much less pollen in the air.  



And so I tucked away all my pills in the medicine cabinet.



Until next year, when the pollen comes back, and the clinical trials resume.



Contagion: the update


 Only a few days ago I posted an entry about flying to Florida and back, and all the dangers of contracting an illness.  But I hadn’t gotten sick yet, so ha ha!



Well ha ha ha.



Let this be a lesson, kids: if you’re okay, keep your mouth shut about it.  Otherwise something will happen.



I felt more or less okay until about Thursday of last week.  I joshed around with Apollonia and the merry crew at lunchtime that day, and then I went back to my office and –



And I really didn’t want to be there anymore.  I felt bone-tired and listless and strangely aucch.



So I let my boss know, and I went home around 3pm, and I lay down and slept.



I maintained a pretty constant vegetative state for about forty-eight hours, mostly lying on my left side, my hands cupped under my head.  I got up once in a while to get some water or try to eat something (usually a mistake), but inevitably groped my way back to my little futon.



I was running a pretty high fever (which finally broke sometime on Saturday night, praise the Lord Buddha).  I alternated sweats and chills.  The sweats were just sort of non-aesthetic; the chills were actually scary.  I felt like I was having spasms. 



My dreams were stupendous.  They went so fast that they were exhausting.  Sometime I was having three at once!  One of them was entirely in the form of printed pages of dialogue flying all around.  They were literally exploding out of me: I’d just close my eyes, and it was like standing over the crater of a volcano, watching the lava rushing straight up for you.



On Sunday, I finally felt better, a little.  I had some meager Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar, which is not really my favorite food, but it sufficed.  And some of Partner’s much more interesting pasta dish with meatballs and Italian sausage, which I somehow managed to tuck away when he wasn’t looking.



Listen: I lost at least two pounds in the last three days.  I need sustenance.



Anyway: I’m still alive.  Just so you know.


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