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.