chapter 29: let’s get (a) physical

on august 2nd, just two days before my cerebral angiogram (which had been moved to the 4th), i went to my primary care doctor for a pre-op physical.  my impending, femoral-arterial surgical procedure would require me to be admitted to UCLA Medical Center. but first, they needed to make sure that i was well enough at the doctor’s office to be treated for being so sick i had to go to the hospital.

having been forced to make my appointment at the last minute, the only doctor available was a woman i’d never seen before.  i told her i had a brain lesion, and her face lit up like a fluorescent Christmas tree.  she asked all kinds of questions, with her neck stuck out and a cheshire cat smile.  this was a lady who loved a good brain tumor case.  she nodded all the way through, then she told me good luck.

the girl at the office window gave me my marching orders, and so i high-stepped straight to my car and headed to Glendale for the fun stuff:  give ’em some blood, give ’em some pee, and then stand in front of a wall and let them baste my chest in radiation.  like a “to your health” toast with a glass full of gamma rays.

when i arrived at the lab for blood work, an asian lady took me into a little room and told me to sit in a metal chair with an ugly green padded seat.  she tied medical tubing around my arm to force my veins to swell like a bunch of 12 year olds vying for robert pattinson’s attention at the premier of Twilight:  Rpattz Loves Sixth Graders.  i was surprised by her making the thing so taut, and as i looked down at my swollen vessels, the thick rope of latex popped off my fighting-back bicep and hit me in the right eye at lightning speed.  i closed my eye just in time (lesson learned from mace class) to avoid giving blood, pee, and an iris.

there was a running theme here…a series of accidents and almosts…first, a rubber band to the eye while getting my medical ID bracelet fixed, and now a rubber tube to the same one during clearance for my angiogram.  the impending craniotomy also posed the risk of wiping out my vision on the left side.  i seemed destined to go blind from this ridiculous gumball that was stuck in my head.  if only someone could just give me a shake, force a penny in, and the thing would dispense out of my mouth…i’d donate the change to the Lions Club.  they could have the tumor, too.


the nurse apologized, fitted me with a new tourniquet, and a few seconds later, i was a quart low…

next, she handed me a cup, and asked me to fill it with urine.

and i thought:

it would be really, really funny if i started to unzip my pants right then, right there.  as if i thought she was telling me to fill the cup right in front of her.  a hilarious joke.

but i hesitated.

the moments passed…

these kinds of jokes, like microwavable burritos and veiled arranged-marriage brides, are best when served hot.

a few more moments went by…

i decided it was too late.  my sense of comic timing told me my window had closed.  so i headed out of the room.  then halfway to the toilet, i stopped; maybe i could walk back into the room and still make it work.  but no.  i stood in the hallway, confused.  defeated.  i went mundanely into the restroom, and peed boringly into the cup.  and that was that.

almost.  but still no.

even afterward, i couldn’t let it go.  “maybe i can STILL make it work.”  how do i go back to the lady, who was now at the front desk, and act like i think i’m supposed to piss in the lobby?  DANG IT!!!!

driving to the hospital for my chest x-ray, i couldn’t get past my missed opportunity.  i was riddled with regret.  the one bright side of my brain tumor had been that it was almost worth it for the jokes.


for my chest x-ray, i arrived at the Glendale Memorial Hospital and signed in.  within minutes, i was plastered against a wall.  a girl aimed what looked like a large cannon toward my heart, and in the name of excellent health, she blasted me with radiation.  in the fight against my hopefully-benign mass.


UCLA hadn’t even required a chest x-ray.  but my doctor’s office thought it was a good idea.  well, you know what they say:  being gratuitously bathed in an electromagnetic, radioactive field never hurt anybody.

leaving the parking garage, i thought about something:  i anticipated a fair amount of soreness and semi-consciousness after my angiogram, which was only a couple days away.  maybe i should enjoy a movie while i could.  and so i did.  Inception.  it was my guilty pleasure before the surgical procedure that would go in near my testicles and end up in my brain.  i know they say guys think with that part, but the insertion point seemed a bit far away for reaching the center of my mind.  but i’m no doctor.

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