Sunday, September 28, 2014

'Help me! I'm bleeding!'

I walked into the doctor's office with blood running down my chest, dripping onto the carpet. "Can someone help me?" I asked, ignoring the patient ahead of me in line at the window. I heard someone scream. A woman yelled, "We need help. Quick! Come in here." A wide-eyed woman in her 60s or 70s jumped up to hold the door for me so I could get to the doctor's treatment room. All the time, I was trying to hold a bandage on my neck to curtail the flow. It all began that morning. At 9 a.m. I drove to Terre Haute to attend orientation at a new job. There was a growing lump on my neck that was hot and causing no end of discomfort. My wife had tried to lance it with a needle over the weekend but it was not a boil. After her scare with the Big C, I was aware of the possibilities. So, instead of waiting any longer I made an appointment with our family doctor for that afternoon. I was to start my new job the next day. "He will probably put you on some antibiotics or send you to a specialist," Linda said. She told me to what specialist our family doctor had referred her. I arrived at our doctor's office at the appointed time and was soon escorted into a treatment room. The doctor touched the lump and said, "We're going to cut that out now." The nurse escorted me to another treatment room and prepped me for surgery. I laid down on a table. "Boy, he's in a hurry to get that off!" she said. Soon he came in and covered my head with with a blue sheet. "Is that so I won't see the blood?" I joked. "Yes." He wiped liquid on my neck to numb it and then said he was shooting some more pain killer into the area. I felt nothing when he was cutting. "Go ahead and pack it," he told the nurse. She began to pack it and I kept feeling something run down my neck. "Do you take blood thinners?" she asked. "No. Why? Am I bleeding? A lot?" "Yes, I can't seem to get it to stop." Hmm. Interesting. And I said the only thing that came to mind. "Oka-ay." She called the doctor to come back in. This is where it starts to sound like a Halloween story. "I do this all the time," he said. "I want to get it all out so it doesn't come back and I cut too much." "Is it a tumor?" I asked. "No." Then he gave me the Latin medical term: "It's a big honkin' cyst. But we'll send it in to be sure." "Did you cut an artery?" I asked. By this time I could see out from under the sheet over my head, a little bit and I was still joking a bit. "I don't see blood shooting against the wall." He remained serious. He told me an artery would shoot blood but this was a vein because it was just bleeding. About that time I felt something run down the back of my neck, through my hair. "I think we have it stopped," he said after working on me what seemed like a long time. "I pulled my new cell phone out of my pocket and called the bank where Linda works. "Hi, honey, guess where I am!" and promptly dropped my phone off the table onto the floor. . The nurse picked it up (it still worked. Thank God for Otterbox cases.) I told Linda the story up to that point and she offered to come get me. But we live just down the road from the doctor's office so I knew I could get home. The nurse finished bandaging my neck and I walked out of the office. Five minutes later, I was in our driveway. I had a blue windbreaker on over my bare chest. I had left my T-shirt off while they were doing surgery on my "big honkin' cyst." The whole thing struck me as so funny. We love our family doctor. He has always done so much for us and has shown so much care. It just seemed hilarious that this had become such a big deal and that he had actually operated in his office. My mother had her tonsils removed in her doctor's office in Winamac but that was 90 years ago. I thought I had to share this funny experience with my Facebook friends. Just as I was writing the entry, I felt that liquid sensation again. This time it was running down my neck on to my chest. I could see the blood running toward my navel. I started the car, dropped my phone onto the seat next to me, and drove like a mad man back to the doctor's office. Why not the hospital? Because the nurse said if it started bleeding I should call the doctor's office. This time the doctor stitched up my neck while one nurse assisted and another nurse wiped up blood from the floor and everywhere else. I have never had a nurse scrub blood off my shoes before. I apologized for the mess and one nurse said, "No, it's not your fault." Then she said something about the cleaning lady and I said, "I'm sure you have had this happen before." "No. No, I think you set a record." We still love our family doctor and I would highly recommend him to anyone. But I have to laugh when I think of this true story that sounds like a Halloween tale. Leaving the office, there was a man standing at the window for an appointment. He looked at me with my great big bandage on my neck and dried blood in my hair. "Don't even let them take your temperature," I said, and walked out. Frank Phillips is a free-lance writer with ties to Montgomery County. He has a blog, "Being Frank: Letters from Indiana" at frankphillips.blogspot.com. He can be contacted at frank.phillips@gmail.com.