Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Story of my Leg

In 2001, I was diagnosed with what appeared to be a blood clot behind my right knee. I was briefly hospitalized and started taking Coumadin. In 2003 I had a recurrence. At this time, my leg started curving inward. My doctor reassured me it was just swelling from the blood clot. On January 15th 2004 I saw a vascular surgeon to have a Doppler scan of the clot. Instead, the technicians scanned the inner part of my right knee and freaked out. Instead of being edema, I appeared to have a tumor the size of a grapefruit wrapped around my knee. They told me to go to my regular doctor’s office and wait there. When I arrived Dr. Hirschman told me to see his associate Dr. Bloom, a surgical oncologist who shared an office with him. Dr. Bloom introduced himself my sticking a thick needle into my leg with no anesthesia and I tried to ignore the pain by fixating on his blood-caked fingernails. I was sent out for a CAT scan and an MRI and told to come back next week.

On my next visit Dr. Bloom told me that the results came back as a low-grade firbosarcoma, a stage 2B (there are only four stages). Sarcomas are very rare and do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation and most often have to be surgically removed rather drastically with very wide margins. He then cut to the chase and flat out recommended amputation of 75% of my right leg. I tried hard not to puke, or pass out or puke and pass out. My cousin who was with me asked me if I was okay. The doctor snapped, ‘Of course she’s not okay, I just told her I need to amputate her leg!’ Oh and by the way, I had two weeks to make up my mind about the surgery, which he claimed he had performed hundreds of times. Through my tears I asked him that if I get a prosthetic limb do I also get an eye patch and a parrot? Silence from Dr. Bloom. Not a fan of pirate jokes I guess.

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