Saturday, May 19, 2007

Go on…tumor me!

A tirade necessitated by the discovery of a tumor. These are my musings.

Part I

My knuckles are sore. The intensity of the scarlet bruise changes in tandem with the needle in my wrist watch. I look away to try and distract myself. It has been 20 minutes since I sat here, waiting for my turn.

There was an uncanny calm. Not the kind one would expect, especially outside a clinic. Seems like a slow day, I thought, or was the little child wailing not loud enough. A constant throbbing grasps my attention. No it is not my head, neither is it the right hand bearing the above mentioned battered knuckles. It was my left leg, the left calf muscle to be precise. An obtrusive bulge wherein nestled the tumor.

I have a tumor. It’s benign. It is called ‘intramuscular lipoma’ not to be confused with the infamous and at times fatal lymphoma. A lipoma is docile. A recluse of sorts, I guess that’s keeping in line with its bearer. Its more illustrious, hence undesirable cousins which are malignant and which often undergo metastasis will strike the fear of God. At the mention of their name compulsive mortals quiver, dreading the worst, assuming one believes in it of course, God, cancer or either.

As the condition seldom is fatal, the anxiety I felt that day seems to be misplaced, yet justified. With the baggage that I carry genetics or otherwise, I felt the impending catastrophe would be in accordance with my errors. But, alas, it is but a mere deposition of adipose tissue, namely fat, that ails me!

My penchant for drama aside, I was truly wrecked at the thought of surgery, however routine or safe it may be. Anything that requires a sharp, pointed object to be thrust in order to penetrate any body part cannot be termed as ‘a routine’ not for someone at the receiving end, at the very least.

The decision to taste steel, not in course of a dinner mind you, hangs in balance due to self-anointed enthusiastic doctors, healers, messiahs of God…well what ever that may suit their taste. It is interesting how a medical situation triggers the latent talents in almost everybody except the doctor himself. He will ask you to get tests done and encourage you to go for a second opinion. The rest surrounding you, however, are ready with their brand of cure, from massages to leeches and more.

That is the reason why we do not insist on universal Medicare in India because apparently everyone here is a doctor, capable of treating everyone else but himself, as suggested by several excursions to neigbourhood clinics. Healer, heal thyself!

My family physician, an ex-military corps surgeon, whom I was waiting to see, now a general practitioner, has advised against convention, not to remove the tumor. As it causes little hindrance in my movement now and will possibly remain uneventful if left alone. While the other doctors, whomever that I have consulted offer the opposite.

To be or not to be under the surgeon’s blade, that is the question.

As I stared at my bruised hand that morning, it became clear that I have not quite dealt with how I felt about the tumor, the surgery, the lay-off from work and an indefinite wait before I roam free again. A wooden door bore the brunt of my suppressed angst. I write to heal. I write, therefore I am.

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