“The assignment of degrees of urgency.”
The core of my professional life in medicine has always been thus; it’s the crux of my work in the nursing biz.
Where should I start, where should I end, and how can I do the least amount of harm along the way.
Today, as a cancer patient, it’s moved from crux to credo.
Recent degrees of urgencies:
Constant pain in my right side, bad enough to send me to the emergency room. After the mandatory (necessary or not, but always done) ECG, then a CT scan of the offending flank.
Bad news from the scan, and now the hit single at the top of my reverse-order billboard: spots/shadows on my liver that weren’t there a few weeks ago. My oncologist arrived to discuss it. Not a good doctor-face.
Some of my pain could be from constipation, along with the fresh tumors. And, because of these “inoperable” liver urgencies, we’ll probably not radiate the lung/lymph node, and will instead shift to other courses of chemo drugs.
I felt like a fisherman who’d run out of his favorite doughball bait, and would have to settle for dead worms.
Fast forward a few days running in place (easy, if you’ve ever hit the brake and accelerator simultaneously):
Back to the hospital lab after calling-in my signs & symptoms to the Doc: a low-grade fever, concentrated urine, increasing fatigue, muscle weakness, some shortness of breath. He said to come in and drop off blood and urine. The pee came easy; the blood took a few sticks. (We had to postpone the IV port earlier due to some other little urgencies, so the repeated probings and pokings go on.)
I received a phone call an hour after leaving the lab: please return to the emergency room for blood cultures, more x-rays, and a transfusion.
Well, hell, why not.
How about a brainectomy while we’re at it. And, let’s throw in an awfulplasty and a fuckinostomy to be on the safe side.
Yes, I’m discouraged. I don’t like shifting gears on a horse of a different color in the mid-stream of a mixed metaphor.
Dammit. Before today, I’d thought I’d known where I wasn’t going; now I don’t, and my timetable is yesterday’s no-news.
One transfusion and a few more reassigned and revamped urgencies later, I went home to hang up a new mental triage game board, the kind that I hope will accommodate doughball darts.
(Point of order: my computer's spellchecker wants to keep correcting "urgencies" to "insurgencies." Smart computer.)
Next week, when we get the latest MRI results of my brain tumor, along with the CT scans and new x-rays of my lung and liver tumors, the docs and I will have to switch chemo baits again and move my bull’s-eye.
My top takeaway from all this: “A compromised immune system can mask symptoms.”
Great. Now I’ll also need some new disguises.
Right now (for the Monty Pythoners among us), I’m Graham Chapman’s Colonel, interrupting myself in this increasingly improbable skit, pronouncing me and these fracturing metaphors as “Too silly! Get ON with it!”
More as we go, El