Monday, December 29, 2008

Another day at the doc's

Today I had another appointment with Dr. Kurtis Birusingh, a head and neck surgeon.

I asked for this appointment after my Christmas Eve visit with Dr. Larry Rusheen, my neurologist. I asked Dr. Rusheen which doctor is best qualified to treat my swollen tongue, and he said that my tongue falls squarely under the head and neck department's jurisdiction. The day after Christmas, I went online to request an appointment with Dr. Birusingh, and I was given a slot on Jan. 13, two-and-a-half weeks away. Later that day, I unexpectedly found myself in the Emergency Room at Kaiser. The doctor treating me there worked some hocus-pocus and got that Jan. 13 head-and-neck appointment advanced to today.

Dr. Birusingh didn't have a lot of good news for me. But he did review the notes that my doctors at Kaiser have been compiling on my case, and he pointed out that Dr. Rusheen is exploring the possibility that my problems may be caused by myasthenia gravis. That's as close as I've come to hearing a possible diagnosis, but I'm keeping my expectations in check until the results of the blood tests return. Dr. Birusingh also showed me images of my brain from my recent MRI. He acknowledged that he doesn't know how to read brain images. He wanted to see if there MRI picked up any images of my tongue or jaw. It had not, so I'll be getting an MRI of that region of my head in the next week or so.

Dr. Birusingh also cautioned me to get to a hospital immediately if I have trouble breathing. I've been breathing exclusively through my nose, and if that should fail, a tracheotomy will be necessary.

I also got instructions from the pharmacist on taking my HIV meds through the G-tube. Two of my meds are in liquid formulations, so the only thing I need to worry about is making sure I measure the dosages accurately with the syringe. The three other meds, however, are in tablet form, and need to be crushed before being dropped down the G-tube. I put each tablet into a separate Baggie and took a few whacks at them with a hammer. There's a bright orange tablet, a blue one and a yellow one, but after being pounded down, they all look like white dust. After my neighbors spot me emptying Baggies of white power into a syringe, how long will it take for them to call the cops on me?

Tomorrow morning, I'm having nerve tests performed. I have no idea what to expect. But that's how I have begun each and every day since this odyssey began.

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