Friday, February 15, 2013

Repulsive But True

C. now and then shares a frank remark or two about the workings of his intestines, so, having a couple of weeks ago produced really a rather remarkable, um, production, I described it to him on the phone. “Basic math,” he agreed, after I had estimated the length in inches, and then he murmured, “Repulsive but true.”

Yesterday morning on the phone, C. said these things:

“Disorientation knocks on the door.”

“I’m kind of in clouds or something.”

“I’m an open slate right now.”

He also said, most heartbreakingly, “If this could be a joke, that would be good.”
Lately, to express that he felt tired, he said, “I’m low force.”

I went over to his place yesterday at 10:30 a.m.; I'd taken the day off work. He’d been trying to get dressed for two and a half hours and still wasn’t quite done. In the end, I had to beg him to walk out of his apartment with me.

We went down to Mission Neighborhood Health Center, where C. met with Dr. Ricardo Alvarez. While we waited in the exam room for him to come in, we were talking about how society has changed, how people no longer live in groups, and I made some remarks on how the automobile played into that—if people couldn’t get along with their families, they now had the option to drive away. At the end of my mini-lecture, C. said, “You’re the director of that show.”

Dr. Alvarez proved to be tall and thin, wearing clogs and what appeared to be a Buddhist mala on his wrist. He was kind, calm, absolutely lovely. He asked C. what was wrong—was he feeling depressed? Oh, yes, C. said, he was feeling depressed. How long had he been feeling depressed? Since birth, C. estimated, and started to discuss his childhood, whereupon I asked C. if I might interrupt and share some observations. C. affably agreed, and I told Dr. Alvarez about the memory issues, and Dr. Alvarez said, more or less, “Oh!” and told C. that he was going to ask him some very focused questions. He also performed a brief physical exam.

At the end, he said he thought it might be a subdural hematoma, which is highly fixable, which was a tremendous relief to me. It seemed we would, incredibly, have C. back as good as new. We left and got on the bus to go to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH henceforth) for a CT scan. On the bus, C. observed my little notebook and said, “I think N. got that idea from you.”

“I think she gets all her best ideas from me,” I joked, and he said, “Boy, that’s a solid snap.”

At the hospital, as we walked toward Radiology, he wondered if I was going to have a scan. I said he was the one who was going to have a scan and he said something like, “I feel like I’m taking all the turns.”

The scan took no time, and then C. and I made our way back to his place, stopping for a bit to sit on some stairs near 21st and Valencia. That morning, C.’s roommate, J., had given me a piece of his mind, saying he hasn’t observed anything different about C. at all and he’s known C. for 15 years so he ought to know, and who am I to have an opinion and so forth, and after we arrived there after being at the hospital, J. gave me yet another, even angrier, piece of his mind while C. fell asleep on his couch.

I went home and later called to invite C. for dinner, and was surprised that he said yes and turned right up. (I thought he might be too tired and want to stay home.) We had a lovely dinner. We shared some olives from Rainbow and we had pasta with homemade tomato sauce and avocado chunks, and Sleepytime Extra tea.

Alas, as he snoozed on my comfortable chair, I got a call from Dr. Alvarez saying there was no bleed, and that there is an ill-defined lesion in his brain. What is a brain lesion? The Internet and I agree that that is a brain tumor.

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