When your doctor scares the crap out of you…And then has no information for you at all!

I tend to be a bit forgetful. Oh sure, I can tell you just about everybody’s name from my second grade class, and I know most of the names of the 120 people who lived in the dormitory I managed in the USAF over 20 years ago. But when it comes to remembering to take my blood pressure medicine? Yeah, not so much.

I’ll get up in the morning, determined to take my medicine…Right after my son gets on the bus. Oops! He forgot to put something in his bag! Hopefully I can catch him before the bus comes. Then I might as well fill the bird feeders. The goats are looking pretty friendly this morning. MAN! Am I hungry! Next thing you know, its later in the afternoon, and once again, taking my blood pressure pill has slipped my mind.

So my doctor decided it was time for an MRI just to make sure the only problem is a little A.D.D. and he set me up for my visit on Wednesday the third of February.

The MRI took just over twenty minutes. They shoved me into the tube with a whole eighth of an inch or so to spare, cranked up the 80’s rock music, and started obtaining proof that I do in fact have a brain.

When it was all over, the arthritis in my shoulders thanked me by helping me drop light things for the next three days or so, and keeping me awake at night. It’s thoughtful that way!

Life went on. Snow storms were cleaned up, groceries were bought, the in-laws were visited, and another trip to the doctor’s office to meet with a med nurse was in order.

Getting home from that appointment on Monday afternoon, I catch the tail end of somebody leaving a message on the answering machine.

Around here, the phone doesn’t ring much, and there are even fewer messages left on the answering machine. If the phone companies don’t think of something soon, e-mail and social media will send them by way of the dinosaur.

I discovered that in addition to the “important information about up coming elections” that I had just missed, there had been a call from my doctor’s office last Thursday asking me to give a call back, and ask to speak with one of the nurses.

I call, and get the nurse that left the message. she says, “Hi Ralph!” all bubbly and cheerful, despite the fact that I have told these people no fewer than 43 times that I don’t use my first name, I use my middle name, of Doug. She gets all silly, and sorry, and promises to remember next time, and goes on to tell me that since they had found a couple of small cystic areas on the right side of my brain, they would like me to have another MRI in 6 months or so.

WHAT? Another MRI? I was hoping that was done for a while. She asks me if I am claustrophobic. I tell her that it’s not that, it’s just that I am a big man for such a tight fit, and the arthritis in my shoulders was still giving me a hard time from the last one…Hold on a second….

“They found WHAT????”

“Oh, it’s just a couple of small cystic areas that they want to keep an eye on. If you have any questions, you can ask Dr. (I’m not telling you!) when you see him in April.”

“Ummmm A COUPLE OF CYSTIC AREAS? On my BRAIN? And I can discuss it in APRIL???”

“Oh…well, they are just a couple small ones, that they want to keep an eye on, it’s really not that big a deal. Do you want me to maybe see if I can get you in sooner?”

“Um…YEAH! Like YESTERDAY sooner! You tell me I have a couple of cysts on my BRAIN, and you expect me to wait until APRIL before I talk to the doctor about them???”

So she sets me up for an appointment for Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, she apologizes again for calling me Ralph, and tells me to have a great day.

Meanwhile, I get to searching on Google, and querying my nurse friends on facebook to see what I can find out on my own.

I had a CT scan back five years or so back, and there was nothing there, so in my expert opinion I ruled out a bunch of different types of cyst, and settle on two likely candidates. One called a pineal cyst, and the other an arachnoid cyst. I don’t recall what I method I used to come up with them, but those seemed to be the 2 you’d want to get if you HAD to have one.

My appointment was for 2:20 in the afternoon. My doctor showed up around 2:40. He walks in, and I ask him, “So…Pineal, or arachnoid?” He looks at me like I have five heads, and tells me he honestly doesn’t know, but that something like this is really not something to worry about.

I tell him, “How can I NOT worry??? Remember me? I worry about EVERYTHING! We are talking about something inside my head for crying out loud! The ONLY thing that is supposed to be in my head, IS MY BRAIN!”

I ask him if HE were in my shoes, if he would just sit and wait for 6 months for the next MRI, without even knowing the TYPE of cyst in his brain. He assures me he would, because he would trust the neurologist that read his MRI.

I tell him, “Look. Let’s say we are in Florida, and you tell me there are two snakes loose in my house. Even if you are 90% sure they are harmless snakes, I am STILL going to want to know everything there is about these snakes, because I WANT TO KNOW WHAT KIND THEY ARE, and WHAT I need to do about them!”

He seems to appreciate the analogy, and again tries to reassure me that they have found similar cysts in the brains of old folks who passed away from natural causes, and they never had any effect on them.

I point out that I no longer have the luxury of not knowing that they are there, and now I will be obsessing about every little twitch of the eye, every stuttered word, every forgotten name, and every headache that wont go away with a couple ibuprofen tablets.

He asked me if I would feel better if I spoke with another doctor, one who was not just a neurologist, but one of the best neurosurgeons around. I tell him it might, as long as I don’t have to wait SIX MONTHS to talk to him!

He didn’t say how long it would be, but I have to wonder…Couldn’t the entire step of sending me to a specialist to talk about this have been prevented by a simple email, or phone call between my doctor and the neurologist?

So! There it is. MOST LIKELY all is fine and dandy. Provided I don’t gain two or three ounces between now and the time the next MRI is scheduled, they will tell me if my cysts have begun to grow.

Maybe they might begin to show some features that reveal them to be a long-lost sibling! A twin brother or sister perhaps?

Or maybe they will simply reveal themselves to be balloon like sacks of fluid that will sit harmlessly in my brain until I am older, and grayer.

All I can do is sit and wait, and put my faith in the Lord above.

My name is Doug, and I have a couple of cysts on the right frontal lobe of my brain! Thanks for letting me share!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.