Discover more from Adventures In "Journalism" by Sari Botton
What Feels Like a Sane Choice...
...after a crazy experience.
Since so many of you reached out after my last post to express concern and support, and to say you’d be thinking of me today when I was supposed to be seing an oncological ENT (THANK YOU ), it seemed the responsible thing to do to update you and let you know that with the blessing of my general practitioner and my uncle who is a doctor, I decided to cancel my appointment.
It felt like a really sane choice, and for the few minutes after I made it yesterday, I felt really empowered. My mood lifted and it had a positive affect physically, too. I felt vaguely human, which is rare right now, in the midst of this acute phase of mononucleosis.
I really had no idea what I was in for. Like, I didn’t know you could feel as sick as I do, in as many ways as I do, and live. There have been many moments where I’ve thought to ask Brian to bring me to the emergency room. This morning my head throbbed so intensely and painfully, I worried I was on the verge of an aneurism or something.
One of the reasons I canceled today’s appointment is because I’m simply too sick even for the car ride from Kingston to Hudson and back. I wrote this in my email to my GP yesterday, and sure enough, at the exact time of my appoinment this morning, 9am, I violently vomited. I was so happy not to be in a car, or in a doctor’s office, on a wild goose chase started by an ENT who somehow doesn’t know what mono-infected tonsils and swollen-glands look like—something I was able to learn in two seconds flat via google images. (Do yourself a favor and unless you find yourself in my boat, never google the term “mononucleosis tonsils.”)
But the main reason I canceled is because the likelihood that I contracted mono and developed cancer in the same 10 days is infinitessimal, and I’m not interested in throwing good money (and time) after bad. The two conditions present very similarly. The ENT with the monstrous bedside manner that I saw on Tuesday hadn’t yet learned of my mono diagnosis (neither had I, nor my other doctors), and it seems pretty clear he mistakenly chose door number two instead of door number one. Then we found out it was conclusively, clinically door number one. Presented with the new information, the ENT doubled down and insisted I still needed to rule out cancer.
When I spoke with my uncle, he said to his mind this was lunacy. In medicine, when a condition like mono is clearly present and active, you wait until it’s passed before exploring other possible diagnoses. If god forbid I miraculously also have tonsillar cancer, it will not hurt to wait at least a couple of weeks to address it.
The plan for now is to wait until my mono subsides, and then, if and only if I still have a gnarly looking tonsil, then I will reschedule my appointment and take it from there. Otherwise, I am not wasting my time, money, energy, and sanity pursuing a diagnosis for something I almost certainly do not have. I’m already pissed that I will have to pay out-of-pocket for my appointment with the jerky ENT.
While I’m at it, I’m also pissed that the first doctor who saw me didn’t take one look at my throat and the swollen gland on the right side of my neck and recognize it could have been mono. Especially after my rapid strep test came back negative. If he’d seen it for what it was, instead of incorrectly guessing “peritonsillar abscess,” he never would have sent me to that jerk, and that jerk never would have tried to send me to the oncological ENT.
I wish I could rewind to last Thursday and have it all go that sane way instead. Then I never would have been on Amoxycillin for five days, which is bad for mono patients. I never would have popped Extra-Strength Tylenol and chugged acetominophen-filled Theraflu for days, both of which are contra-indicated for mono, because they are hard on the liver. (My liver enzymes are off the charts, consistent with mono.)
I also wouldn’t mind fast-forwarding to the moment when I am finally 100% certain this isn’t cancer, and I can report that jerky ENT to the medical licensing board.