Saturday night, typing from the couch!
To pick up where I left off about my health scare- after an ultrasound and an MRI, the mass on the side of my neck appeared not to be malignant, based on the radiology reports, big relief. Going into my appointment, on Friday, I was very much looking forward to speaking with a live specialist and getting some real information about what this thing was instead of what it wasn’t.
Well, the doctor positively burst into the room and said he was excited to see me. That he’d read the reports and couldn’t wait to get the images, which he had now seen. I asked if I was some kind of special case and he said we’d just start by taking a look.
He did an ultrasound and showed me that the mass has fluid in it (I could see that) and also pointed out that while the report said the mass was “vascularized,” it also said that it didn’t change with contrast. All of this to say, the report contradicted itself and it seems to be a cyst. Which I think made it less exciting to him but a relief to me, since cysts aren’t usually scary things.
He did a biopsy (not pleasant but not too terrible) and said that there was clear fluid coming out, which would be consistent with his diagnosis of a cyst. Also, there was no blood, leading one to believe it was not vascularized. Now here’s the crazy part:
Pending the results of the biopsy, he is predicting that this is a “congenital branchial cleft cyst.” What is that, you ask? Well, to explain this condition, we have to go back to when we were two-week-old embryos, when we were more like fish than humans. When we had gills, or at least the beginnings of gills. This is the moment that the gills “obliterate” or seal shut. In some cases, though, the seal is incomplete, and a pocket forms. A cyst is there at birth and eventually can enlarge due to an upper respiratory infection (which is what happened to me). It’s more or less harmless yet could be prone to infection.
So, my friends, this turned out to be a problem with my gill. I asked the doctor if I should blame my mom and he laughed. Two weeks is very early- I mean, maybe one extra cocktail and boom! My gill doesn’t seal.
When I got home, I started considering the possible symbolism around this. If I have this removed (likely, if that’s the diagnosis), will I then and only then become a full-fledged mammal? Will I experience some level of rebirth as a non-reptile? Will I have to re-learn how to swim?
I started googling, “branchial cleft cyst poetry” and “branchial cleft cyst spirituality,” thinking for sure there must be something along these lines. It’s just too surreal. There was nothing. I would own this literary niche.
After all my stress about this being something super serious, I find this to a be a downright friendly diagnosis and I am grateful. I don’t yet fully understand why this, why now, and maybe never will, but I’ll meditate on it. And if it turns out to be something completely different next week, you will be kept apprised..
Meanwhile, I’m back on the best case scenario track while E, with no appreciation for any of the above, has become Mr. Contrarian this week, fully exercising his use of the word No. We are working on Yes, which sounds like “Jesh,” but it doesn’t get nearly the airtime or level of passion. Diaper changes, clothes on, clothes off, stroller, car seat, close to everything is not what he wanted. It reminds me of this video: Charlotte No No No
It’s part of the drill! Gracias a dios.
More to write, but I’ll save some for Tuesday on the bus.