It was around September; autumn was just around the corner, when I felt a swollen gland in my throat and wondered, “How could I be catching a cold this time of year?” Besides not feeling good, I was feeling a little down because at this time of year, right before it starts to get cold, I always look back throughout the year. Then I realize I didn’t do anything special or exciting but work; didn’t do any traveling, didn’t have a “first time” type of story for the year and didn’t complete anything off my “always wanted to do list.” My mind switched back to my cold and I wondered if a trip to the family doctor would fix my throat with antibiotics or if I should make a quick stop to the local Walgreens, for some over-the-counter cold remedies. My decision was to see the family doctor, Mr. Rivers, which for those of you old enough to remember could be right out of a Marcus Welby, MD episode.
Stately and distinguished Dr. Rivers, older with slightly graying hair used his ordinary flashlight with the confidence of a seasoned medicine man. After a quick look down the throat and the familiar “ah” while he listened with his stethoscope, he always gave his patients the diagnosis before you left. This time the visit had a different feeling about it as not only was the right side of my throat still hurting but now a strange earache on my right side had surfaced. To add to my already “down in the dumps” mood, Dr. Rivers gravely advised, “You need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist.” For the first time in any episode I could remember, Dr. Marcus Welby, aka Dr. Rivers couldn’t fix his patient and I was advised to make an appointment with a Dr. Wright.
While the pain was intensifying, especially during eating or swallowing, I couldn’t help but still feel that life was passing me by, no “wild and crazy” experiences to talk about with friends or family. Along with a now constant earache, day-to-day living, much less working had become an almost impossible task, making me more than nervous as to what is wrong and elevating my depressed mood.
Sitting in the white, sterile and bland office, Dr. Wright didn’t have any of Dr. River’s mannerisms, but if he gave me a diagnosis, the bedside manner could easily be forgiven. With the skill of a plumber, he guided his scope down the sinus passage revealing strange images on the small monitor. More tests were ordered, one was an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan that would look closer at the head and throat region to see what the doctors couldn’t. Marcus Welby, MD would have loved to have an MRI machine! The diagnosis wasn’t instantaneous, so as the weeks went by every second was filled with dread and thoughts of the worst things that could happen, the endless “what if” questions. Finally the news arrived; science had finally found a cyst at the base of the skull that would require removal, but the really bad news; it’s attached...