Friday, October 6, 2017

A Tale of Two MRIs, Part 2: When It Rains...


In early August, I found out that what I thought was a perfectly normal mandibular torus was NOT a mandibular torus at all. What is it? We don't know!

A dentist appointment led to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon led to an MRI. Back to oral surgeon, who didn't see much of anything in the MRI. Oral surgeon referred me to Endodontics. 

Based on other findings in the MRI (another mass), my doctor was checking with Radiology to see if I could have an ultrasound in place of a second MRI.

Back to the story...

When I left off, I had just been told I was being referred to Endodontics, which turned out to be located upstairs from the oral surgeon. The assistant I'd been working with, Chuck, was nice enough to walk me upstairs so I could get started on paperwork. At this point it was around 10 AM.

I handed in my paperwork to the receptionist. She told me that they had me scheduled for 12:30, but said that if I stuck around for a few minutes she would check to see if the doctor could see me earlier. I waited. About 10 minutes later I was told I would have to come back at 12:30. So I drove home (about 15 minutes) and worked from about 10:30 until noon. Then I headed right back to the very same building where I'd sat just hours before and sat some more.

I got called back pretty quickly and got a few more x-rays (this would be the third set of x-rays, for those keeping score). Then the specialist came in and talked to me.

"I hear you've been in and out of appointments and machines." Yep. Sure have.

"Is there a plan for what happens next?" I told him about the oral surgeon's suggestion of a referral to ENT if this didn't yield any results. He seemed to accept that and got to business poking around my mouth. Then he explained what was coming next: the root canal test.

Allow me to explain this quickly for the uninformed. Basically, they make the end of a long Q-tip extremely cold (like, liquid nitrogen style) and then touch it to a tooth. If you feel something - anything - you raise your hand. Once the feeling goes away, you lower your hand. Repeat on the surrounding teeth.

I got worried when I didn't feel anything on the first tooth, but I definitely felt it with the rest of the teeth. (It didn't hurt, thankfully, but it's not a particularly pleasant sensation either. Not so much an "Ouch!" as a "The f*ck is that? That's weird. I don't like it.") Apparently that was all it took. The specialist said I didn't need a root canal. I had all the right reactions, my bone and root structure look strong and healthy... No problem from an Endodontic perspective.

While most people are probably relieved to hear they don't need a root canal (and trust me, part of me definitely was), this was just another appointment, another test, another set of results that showed nothing. For everything I'd been through, there were still no answers for me. I started to tear up and said, "On to ENT then!" I took a breath and calmed myself down so I could get going.

Just before I got out of the chair, this doctor (who is clearly doing well for himself; the Endodontics office is REALLY nice - fireplace in the waiting room, sculptures and art everywhere - and the beautiful Corvette in the parking lot may very well have been his as well) looked at me and said, "Since you're not having any work done, I'm just going to comp this appointment."

What? As in, you aren't going to charge me? Well that did it. Tears welled up anew. I was floored by his kindness, and so (SO) grateful. One less charge to worry about? You better believe I'll take that. I thanked him again and again before finally heading out. So I left feeling a little upset that this appointment hadn't given me any answers, but the greater feelings I had were gratitude and relief.

On my way home I was almost in an accident (a guy turned out in front of me and I had to lock up my breaks to keep from hitting him). Then a few blocks later I witnessed an accident (a head-on where one of the vehicles spun into a building) and got to call 911 for the second time this year (and in my life). Aside from the asshole behind me who was honking and gesturing for me to move (despite the fact that there was an accident right in front of me, I had my blinkers on, and I was on the phone... with 911), I made it through the experience pretty well (which is saying something for me!).

When I got home, I was taking things out of my purse when I saw the copy of my MRI results. What the hey, I'll take a look at it, review it on my own. I was reading through it, trying to remember what my doctor had told me the week before... And that's when I figured out that I had misunderstood my doctor. Badly.

After my appointment with her, I had come away thinking that they had found an additional mass during the MRI. But there were three separate things noted on the report. The first, of course, was the original bump. The second was a mass on my thyroid, for which I was referred an ultrasound. The third was a mass near my clavicle, for which I was referred another MRI. So it wasn't a matter of having the ultrasound instead of the MRI; it was whether I'd have to do both the ultrasound AND another MRI.

If the accident hadn't erased my good mood, this certainly had. Hubby and I were just about to go on a weekend away for our 7th anniversary, and here I was staring down one or two more tests for two more unknown masses. If the ultrasound would suffice for both, though, that would really help. I kept a good thought.

Friday, on our way out of town, my doctor called: the ultrasound and MRI were both going to be needed. Yay.

To be continued... 

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