Flopsy, Mopsy and Biopsy

felix's picture

Saturday morning. And the doc is making two holes in my right leg just below the knee, with a device that takes a straw sized core of flesh about a centimetre long. I could watch one be schlopped out, but not both.
I had made this booking to arrange my takeaway methadone for Manila, and to pick up results from the Mater A&E - I went there the night of Jan 2, after a day of sweats and dizziness. A very young doctor had seen me after about a three hour wait, professed he had no idea what this strange 8 x 6 cm patch on my leg was, then proceeded to swab the infection and send it to the pathology lab.
Which, now, a fortnight later, I was being told was a waste of time.
"All infections are staph!" my doctor exclaimed.
"What a complete waste of a medical procedure. You have to find out what the underlying issue is, not what the infection on top is."
I didn't mention that I only went to the hospital because , after showing her three times, a month apart each time, she'd taken no action other than booking me in for a biopsy, then telling me the frontdesk person had not made the booking when I turned up - "Can you come back in six days?" she'd asked after I had left work early for the biopsy.
Anyway, all that aside, it was happening. She'd told me she thought it was possibly Tuberculosis. I had no idea that you could still get TB, and that you could get it on your leg.
Turns out there's a whole family of Mycobacterium, and TB is just one. Doc tells me to stop taking anti-biotics, they're not going to do anything for my leg. Mycobacteria are slow-growing, and pernicious. They don't let go, and certainly not to some baby anti-biotic like Fluclox.
So here I am, feeling run-down and experiencing a battle of doctors egos. Naivety whispers in my ear that healthcare should be about diagnosis and treatment. But addiction to gear for two decades and the major available treatment being criminal not health-based, well that has taught me the society I live in still has quite a few lessons to learn. With a damaged body that takes about an hour to feel human after waking, that gets night sweats once a week, that itches all over like I have fleas.
At this point, I just want a name for my lesion. The fact that TB was the original diagnosis for mum's Hodgkinsons was a fact I was unaware of when I told dad what the doc said. I thought I'd be easing his mind by giving it a name, now I've just made things worse. I'm the same age mum was, and I have the same symptoms.
The doc sent one little tooth sized core off, in saline, for culturing to detect TB. The other core went in Formalin, for cancer assessment. Histo-pathology or some such term. Such a weighted term, cancer, that she only mentioned it when I asked why one sample went one way and the other another way.
Hell, the fact that it's taken 14 billion years of a near infinite amount of atoms to come together to result in the life-form that is me is more than enough magic - some minor bad programming in genetics that may result in an earlier than expected termination date detracts not one iota from the unlikeliness that is humanity.
I asked the doc half-serious, half-joking, if I would have to 'manage my own pain relief'. A prime example of what is called, in the industry, 'drug-seeking behavior'.
She proceeded to tell me about a twelve year old Sudanese girl who has the same procedure two days earlier, and had needed no pain medication. She had picked up some neck-wide infection in the border camps that are part of the journey from there to here.
An effective knock back. So I looked after my pain medication myself, as I had known I would.Crud gear, which happens but is not what you want to happen, especially after such a morning. So it goes, said Kurt Vonnegut. I'd have been smarter to keep the $120 and pay some bills, buy some fruit, see a movie. Retrospect, respect.


sayarsan's picture

I reckon you should be seeking a referral to a specialist for this one, "possibly TB" for a mycobacterium? Why not "possibly leprosy"? Don't get excited i just looked in Wiki but really i don't think it is a good idea to use your methadone doctor as a G.P. The trend towards specialising in medicine has its logic considering the vast body of knowledge medicine encompasses. With no knowledge of the doctor in question i can only go by your account and by this stage i think she has not shown much concern for your problem to say the least. I was spoiled by having Dr. Eastwell for so long who was a recognised specialist whether or not i really needed that level of care but this one apart from being comparatively young seems to be riding two horses at once. I never expect to get G.P. service from the shrink at the clinic even though i will seek an opinion and would question the motives of a doctor, especially a private doctor who tries to be both. Is it possible she might be a little 'overworked'?