Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Doctor Dad

Went to see Dr. B this morning; had some blood drawn so the lab techs can look in astonishment at all the millions of white blood cells I have magically created this week. Computers are down, so I'll have the results in a few hours and if all is well, can restart chemO tomorrow.

Dr. B pronounces chemOtherapy like this: chem uh therapy. I like this.

I had to have a word with Dr. B today about doctors and being able to get in touch with them. I had a rather important question and tried to reach him directly. You have to go through this system where you call and talk to the advice nurse line and leave a message and then the advice nurse calls you back. For most things, like nausea and papercuts, this system seems ok. But when you have a pressing issue, like Your Pupils Being Asymmetical so One is Huge and the other is Tiny, you want to talk to your doctor. So after I called the advice nurse and insisted on a brain MRI and after I called back and said "I would like to speak directly to my Dr. so please have my Dr. call me directly," and after the nurse practitioner called to say the MRI was scheduled, I expected to hear from my doctor.

I did not hear from my doctor. But I am a very lucky cancer patient because I have a Dad who is not only an awesome dad, but who also happens to be a doctor. From the beginning of my diagnosis, through my surgery (which I may someday write about here - you know you want to hear all about it) through the diagnosis of my cancer recurring to my lung and everything in between, my Dad has been there to explain everything in detail. To interpret medical jargon. To reassure me. To make sure I always understand that there is hope.

We have never been a dramatic family when it comes to illness and ailments. We are more of a "if it hurts when you do that, then don't do that" family. (And when saying we have never been a dramatic family, I do mean in terms of illness and ailment - give my family a small piece of gossip and we'll be sure to turn it into a full blown drama and also probably a more than slightly exaggerated tall tale). Anyway, when I noticed my pupils being different sizes, I did not want to worry anyone so I didn't say anything and I just did some internet research (not smart) instead of calling my Dad. I suddenly had the intense feeling that the tumor had invaded my brain. I insisted on a Brain MRI because I wanted someone to tell me that I was wrong and I wanted to proof.

When I began to check myself and the level of drama I was creating for myself, I called my Dad. He immediately had some research on hand about nerves in the upper lobe of the lung and how one goes up and around the eye. Apparently, if there is pressure or inflammation around this nerve, like say from a tumor in the lung, the pupil near the eye of that nerve can have a hard time constricting. Horner's Syndrome or something. Although I was not totally freaking out and I did have some level of calmness about myself, my Dad once again reassured me and made me feel better. Isn't that what a doctor is supposed to do? Make you feel better?

But I still had the MRI. And when I saw my doctor today and he told me the results were negative for any brain involvement, I said, "Yeah, my DAD told me that would most likely be the case." Then I kind of reemed Dr. B out for not calling me back like I asked the advice-nurse-message-talk-into-a-machine-about-important-stuff-you-should-be-talking-to-your-doctor-about-line to have him do.

In Dr. B's defense, he did not receive the call back message because it was mistakenly put in his "append" folder, which is a folder that I guess is a not-that-important folder. Anyway, my mom was there with me at the appointment and she said, "You know, she's not really a complainer. She's not going to call you with a hangnail," or something like that. Dr. B said he knew that and he gave me his cell phone number, direct voice box, and email address. Anyone want this info? Just kidding. Scott says he's going to call up and say, "Hey Dr B., it's me Scott - I made up this really great song about cancer, do you want to hear it?" or "Hey, Dr B., it's me Scott again, how do you spell cancer?" But he won't. Do that I mean.

So I have some funny lookin pupils sometimes, but that should even itself out when the tumor starts to shrink a little bit. In the meantime, I feel thankful to have my Dad researching the latest treatments and what to do if the chemo and radiation aren't quite cutting it. To have him to talk to when I need reasurrance. I feel thankful that my mom is here to keep my house clean and to play bingo with my daughter and that my husband and my friend Thandi are putting together a sauna in the backyard. Oh, and also that I have Dr. B.'s cell phone number.


  1. Hi Julie,
    I have been savoring every word you write, someone said a long time ago that you could write, more than true - take it from you bookish aunt. You are in my thoughts every day and I cheer for your good spirit. I have to say how glad I am that my brother is your dad and that your mom is there for you. Two better people may not exist.
    Fight on sweet girl...

  2. I like your dad, too. And your mom. It's good to be appreciated. As parents, I mean. Are you sure this pupil thing isn't some kind of horrible acid flashback? Just kidding. You are sharing so many unknown side effects of this crazy thing. We can all be the knowledgeable, helpful voices for future reference. I pray you're good to go, tomorrow. You've got to be up and running for CR!
    Pop, pop ...breathe...breathe .... Nanc

  3. Hellooo,

    I found you site while googeling Horner Syndrome..( which I have and some other stuff )

    I read every word you write! Your words, strenght and beauty is amazing....I hope all the best for your Journey!

    I send you energy, blessings and love!