Recapping… unable to refute multiple 2nd opinions, I now had to entertain everyone’s opinion, except for mine, that I had cancer. There was only one thing for me to do since no one would listen to me, and that was to prove them wrong.
Up until this point, I had not mentioned anything to my fiance about this wild goose chase the doctors were on. She knew I was right, that I was injured, and the doctors just were either not listening to me, or just had no clue. Every evening she knew the pain I was in. At the same time, she had enough pressure on her planning a wedding that was six months away. I had everything under control.
That Monday evening before Thanksgiving, I pulled her aside from her parents to talk privately with her. I still was avoiding using the “C” word because, well… whatever was going on with my shoulder was not going to be cancer. So, there. I was not going to throw her into a panic. Instead, I chose to explain it to her this way:
Me: I can’t get these doctors to pay attention to the pain in my shoulder. It’s there. They can see me wince in pain when they extend my arm. But they have this thing for some reason about this stupid lump in my neck. I told them to stop worrying about it because the medicine was working, and the lump was shrinking. But they want to do a biopsy on it anyway. I don’t know what else to do since they won’t listen to me. Maybe after they do this biopsy, and they see it has nothing to do with my shoulder, they will finally be convinced to look more closely at my shoulder. The doctor got me in tomorrow.
I could tell from the expression on her face, there was no concern from her. She knew I knew what I was talking about. Things were going great. I had a good job. We were both so happy and preparing for the rest of our lives. Just get this biopsy done and over with, rehabilitate and get that shoulder back into condition. I wanted to prove them wrong. I know my body.
I had only been inside a hospital one time in my life, and it was as a child. I had “tumors” that were blocking my molars from coming up when I was six years old. I do not recall much about the ordeal, other than reminded by a few pictures my mother took, showing a young boy in what resembled to be a bed inside a cage. Evidently I must have had an escape plan.
But this was my first time as an adult walking into a hospital. I went through all the pre-op procedures. The surgeon, yet another doctor, came in to tell me what the plan was, to do the biopsy and how it would be done, and if I had any questions.
Me: I did not hear you say anything about putting me under anesthesia.
Doctor: Because we won’t be.
Me: Whoa! Wait a minute! Yes you will be. I want to be put out!
Doctor: We do not use general anesthesia for a procedure like this.
Me: Perhaps you do not understand me. I am not letting you get near my ear with a knife, where I can hear everything that you are doing to me. You are either putting me out, or I am out of here.
Doctor: Mr. Edel…
Me: I’m serious (as I start getting off of the gurney).
The doctor walked out of the room, and moments later, he and an anesthesiologist came into the room, now explaining to me what I would experience with the anesthesia.
I am not sure how long I was out, but the procedure was done. The lump was out. I was not feeling any pain or discomfort at the moment. My fiance was sitting in a chair next to my bed. Relieved that it was over, she gave me a smile, the same smile that attracted me to her when we met. Now we would be able to get back to planning the wedding. Now we could get back to planning our lives together. The biopsy was over, and nothing would be found. Just get my shoulder straightened out.
The surgeon came into the room.
Doctor: How are you feeling Mr. Edelman?
Me: Pretty good. Ready to get out of here.
Doctor: Okay, but first. We did the biopsy and removed the whole lymph node.
Now I was confused. Lymph node? I had a lump. Nobody ever said anything about a lymph node.
Doctor: We closed up the surgical site with five stitches…
Me: So now I look like Frankenstein had one of his electrodes removed?
The doctor did not respond to my attempt at deflecting humor. I was not getting a good feeling.
Doctor: We sent the node down to pathology where they will perform several tests on it. Also, a frozen culture was done…
He had completely lost me. Lymph node? Pathology? Frozen culture? I was lucky if I knew how to spell them let alone know what they meant, just like… hematology. Dammit.
Doctor: The frozen culture indicates that you have Hodgkin’s Disease (now called Lympoma). The full report is going to be necessary from pathology to confirm this.
Me: Confirm it? Don’t you think you should know everything before you tell someone they have cancer? What the Hell is wrong with you doctors? Why do you keep telling me I have cancer without having any proof?
Doctor: We will send the results to your doctor as soon as we have them, and you can discuss your course of direction from there.
And like that, this grim reaper of bad news was gone.
For the first time in all this mess, the expression on my fiance’s face had changed. Her look had gone from confident to fear. We sat there silent waiting for my discharge orders. I had no idea what was going through her mind at that point. As for me, in spite of what I had been told, I had a shoulder injury. This frozen section was going to be wrong, and the pathology or whatever was going to prove that.
The trick was for us to get through Thanksgiving weekend without knowing. The results would not be back until after the holiday.