Archive for June, 2011

I don’t have Cancer…

Or at least I will find out for sure in July…

In the summer of 2010 I begin playing indoor soccer in a game developer league with a co-worker of mine. It was great to be playing again but I quickly remembered how much I didn’t miss all the scrapes, bruises and aches. This reminded me of the small darkened patches of skin that I had around my waist and hips which were abrasion scars from my years of goalkeeping. Vizelle began to notice other patches of dark skin, forming, around my torso and waist. Later she noticed that they were growing. It was odd and there was a slight itchiness to the patches, so I did some research and figured it was some sort of fungal infection. Indoor soccer turf isn’t exactly clean and since I roll around on it for an hour a week, it made logical sense.

I saw my physician and she diagnosed it as a skin fungus. I was prescribed some special soap and a creme and was sent on my way. Needless to say nothing had changed and the follow up appointment ended with me trying to book a dermatologist appointment. The patches were growing still and I started to develop spots that were extremely itchy so I had to settle for a Dermatologist at the bottom-of-the-list just so I could get an expedited appointment.

My visit with the Dermatologist was certainly a bottom-of-the-list experience. The staff was nice enough, but the environment was shabby and rather low rent. The Dermatologist was oddly impersonal and uncomfortable too. I was desperate however and having grown up visiting Kaiser Permanente offices, I was not concerned with “presentation.” They cut a chunk of skin out of me, sewed me up and I returned a week later for the results.

As it turns out, there was no fungus. The spots were some weird viral infection that is a summer thing, that would eventually go away. But I had a new diagnosis. Aconthosis Nigricans. A skin disorder typically found in people with obesity. I was told to lose some weight and my skin should clear up. Ok.

Wait.

I know that I am not fit nor skinny, but I am pretty sure I am not obese. Not to mention I have been this size for my entire adult life so why did this condition crop up from out of nowhere and develop so quickly? Something didn’t sound right. That’s when the nightmare train left the station.

With my laptop, on my lap, I did some searches for Aconthosis Nigricans and found that it was linked to a lot more, less benign, conditions. I immediately freaked out, on the couch, in the livingroom of our brand new house that we had been living in for less than a year, with zero life insurance. Vizelle worries easily, especially about health stuff, so I lost my shit – but had to keep it bottled up. She thought I was acting weird, but I played it off well enough. From what I read, I could have had any number of diseases from diabetes to cancer.

I saw my physician as soon as possible she pulled some strings to get me in to see a Dermatologist at the top-of-the-list. The difference was night and day. There really is something to having doctors that are genuinely interested in seeing you get well. More biopsies and a lot more tests. Diabetes, which was what I sure it was since my Dad was diagnosed with it a few years ago, was ruled out and the tests also looked negative for preliminary cancer conditions. The new Dermatologist wanted to make sure all the bases were covered so he wanted me to see an Oncologist (cancer specialist) just to get his blessing and I told Vizelle what was going on.

The Oncologist appointment at the Cancer Partnership was a real eye opener. I have never felt so completely out of place. As I sat there in the waiting room, surrounded by people 20 years my senior, the emotional toll begin to weigh on me. The gravity of the past weeks had finally started to sink in.

Thankfully the Oncologist was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. We ran through my history and he was ready to give his “blessing” but asked if I wanted to go ahead and do a CT scan just to be safe, and of course I said yes. Funny, but I don’t remember when I reached the point in my life where I started saying yes to doctors when they suggested elaborate over-aggressive tests, just to be safe. I had my first, of many CT scans, the next morning.

There is nothing quite like the taste of blood in your mouth on top of the warmth of shit in your pants. That is the best way to describe what you feel like when iodine is injected into your bloodstream. I seemed to handle it well the first couple of times, but I almost hurled during my last visit. Since I was only required to get my torso scanned, I didn’t have to go into a tunnel. It was more like a giant ring that I had to deal with. Sort of a combination of 2010: A Space Odyssey and the gesture you make, in grade school, using your thumb and forefingers to simulate… well, you know.

Turns out there is a “nodule” in my upper left lung.

One of the malignant causes of Acanthosis Nigricans is lung cancer. So, yay.

After 3 CT scans, over the period of 10 months or so, the nodule has not grown in size. When I was young I was exposed to tuberculosis, so it might be scar tissue. I have another CT scan in July. If the results are the same, I’ll probably get scanned once a year. I still don’t show any early signs of cancer, so fingers crossed.

Currently the Dermatologist thinks the Acanthosis Nigricans is simply genetic.

I’ll let you guys know, when I know.

Also, do me a favor and get a physical done, if you haven’t been to a doctor in a while.

Law & Order across the pond

Hey,
Has anyone seen the “Law & Order UK” series? I am very curious to see the differences in British law enforcement and legal proceedings from their US counterparts. Additionally, I would want to check out the filmmaking style for a police drama as the UK has a long history of quality TV dramas focused on law enforcement.

The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas

That Fincher fella sure knows how to cut a trailer!