Last year, this time (remember back then?) my sweet GP handed me over to the Dorktor while she spewed out her last kid (she promised me, but I think it was less for my benefit than the fact that this kid was rough and she was calling it quits on that front). Now, the Dorktor was (is) a brilliant guy, and I seriously liked him — I mean, I’d like hanging out with him and I think we could have some awesome geek pissing matches — but I only got to see him a month or two before he was moved out of office hours into overseeing rounds for a medical school.
The Dorktor had an advantage in that he has seen a lot of stuff, and that he hadn’t seen me — but his not knowing me was also a disadvantage. Seeing and knowing are very different. Let’s put it this way — I am a lousy patient. I would be an awesome patient if I had something going on that was vaguely conventional, and the usual tests could back it up. Why? Because I really don’t notice stuff about me until it’s really wrong, and then I pretend I don’t notice it even more until it convinces me it isn’t going away. But you can tell a doctor that till you’re blue in the face, and if they don’t know you and know it to be the case (like my sweet GP does) it rates right up there with people who “always have low body temperatures” and who have high pain thresholds. (I don’t know what I should say when they ask how I am with pain… I think my pain threshild is generally just completely irrational and wired badly, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily higher or lower. It means the goalpost is always moving when I kick at it.)
So there was confusion when the Dorktor pointed out that the right side of my face was sagging. As in, “Is her face always like that?” (How the hell could Mr. Shoe answer that one correctly? He was doomed.) Of course, neither of us knew. Was it? My mom says I have always had a crooked smart-ass smile. Okay, she doesn’t say smart ass, she says “little.” We all know what that means. And the Dorktor thought that it did vary over the couple/few months I saw him.
But I hadn’t noticed, and Mr. Shoe hadn’t really. Look, sorry, folks, it’s not like I spend hours doing my hair and makeup. I wash my face in the shower. And I comb my hair without my glasses on. And I’m out of there. But last year it did look creepy. I mean, creepier than I recalled myself looking. Then it looked less creepy come November, when the neurologist (who finally thought I seemed interesting later that winter) looked at it, and said, “Let me see your picture ID.” Well, I looked equally less creepy in the ID –in a picture taken over ten years ago. I had a smart ass, crooked smile.
Case closed. Dorktor was hallucinating. No one had noticed because my face was weird to start with. I don’t think that Dorktor is one to see things looking nastier on patients than they are anyway, so I don’t think he dreamed that up. But I didn’t feel anything weird…
So I’ve spent the last couple weeks wondering why it feels like I have shampoo, or conditioner, or boogers on the right side of my face when I’m in the shower, when I know I don’t. Hey, look, all bets are off now, and the consistency of Paul Mitchell conditioner is… well, mucous inspired. As I was drying off yesterday, I realized my nose, eye, mouth and ear on my right side felt like the dentist went crazy with the novocaine and I was cottony feeling and yet drooling out of all these spots. Worse, my face felt heavy. Like someone shoved a roll of pennies in my cheek.
It’s also apparent the Dorktor didn’t imagine that droopiness, or the fact that it changed. Because I felt it first this time. Okay, I mean, I actually feel it this time. I had limited sensation last year, but none of the heavy feeling, or the occasional muscle fluttering on and off when I try to smile naturally. And my eye didn’t come open when I sleep. I don’t know if it actually comes all the way open, but as I drifted off a few times, believe me, the fact that it wasn’t sealing like the other as I relaxed woke my bad self right up. And that makes me think first of how pugs and pekingeses sleep with their eyes open, and then makes me think of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
So if I try to smile (force it) I overcompensate on the right — and I can hold it. Same with the eye, so that at least I don’t get shampoo and conditioner (and, I guess, since we’ve already gone there, boogers) in it while I shower. If I act natural… talking, smiling, whatever, then it is noticeable.
It’s also heavy as hell. Did I mention that? Yeah. I did. That’s just weird. So here’s my thing:
I can’t see the dermatologist till I see his nurse practitioner, and I can’t see her till mid-June (and maybe she can get me in with him before August, but not likely). He’s got nothing to do with this, of course, but I also don’t want to spend my time waiting on that end… If it were cosmetic, who gives a crap, but his nurse practitioner can’t order a biopsy with cell staining and stuff. So I need to talk to my sweet GP about her third and fourth choices for who I should see (she prefers referring to specialists she knows personally, which is usually fine unless they’re booked till August). I was just going to call her, but then my face does this.
And I still can’t bring myself to call and tell her. How the hell do I explain this? I mean, it’s gotten to the point it’s completely unbelievable, and even though I have the context of it’s having been noticed last year (just that it didn’t feel like this), she wasn’t aware of it because… well, I took the cue from the neurologist and said it probably was just always that way, and maybe it hadn’t fluctuated. So I am hesitating to call her this afternoon and drop the “oh, yeah, and my seventh cranial nerve decided it’s tired and is taking the summer off, so I feel like I’m drooling out my nose and my eye is a little funny about closing sometimes” bomb on her. And it doesn’t look… well, it is noticeable. It is. More in the mouth and nose than the eyeball region, and I think maybe I only notice the eye changes because I am funny about eyes that are mildly off and it already feels like it ought to be off, so maybe it isn’t that bad there. It is off, I can tell you this, but most people who aren’t freakish about that won’t notice.
See, Marty Feldman had Graves Disease. That doesn’t phase me at all. I can identify right away what’s off about that. I had a specialist I saw who had a pug-like wall eye issue — again, very clear what was not uniform, and that could be tidily processed away. But if it is a slight sort of thing — I get skeeved out and I can’t say why exactly, many times. Except this is my face and I can feel why.
I feel like I should actually see my doctor, then. It’s not a nice thing to just dump on her over the phone (she’ll be like, “Get your ass in here!”) She’s not in tomorrow. Yes, I know her schedule. And truthfully, I can’t get in today, and I don’t want to until I know what it’s going to do. Will it reverse? Be more noticeable? Give me superhuman abilities? I don’t know. I probably will by Monday. The immunologist is in tomorrow, and if I needed to I could give him a ring. Now… I know. This is more a neurology thing, but I figure that either specialist will just say, “Get your GP to send you to the ENT,” and I think we’re now all in agreement that the root of the screw up lives in my immune/lymphatic system somewhere.
It doesn’t look much worse this morning than it did last night, and it feels just as irritating. I also felt better (relatively speaking) yesterday than I did the day before… so maybe that was it blowing up big time. I feel pretty crap today, though, so maybe tomorrow it’ll be more interesting. The issue is I have no idea where to go, or when to go with it. It’s kinda all hard to believe, and it sounds dumb explaining it, and I’m tired of explaining it. If it is something like a Bell’s palsy, they have been known to be seasonal. I think it tends to be idiopathic in those cases. Eventually, enough idiopathic stuff should point to something besides idiocy.
It is very consistent with the few things left on the table to consider. It’s just bazillions of puzzle pieces that we have to put together, and no picture on the puzzle box to guide us. And to save my time, and my energy and morale, I don’t want to come in, have it not be terribly striking so that tests aren’t ordered that should be or have them ordered too early so that they aren’t re-checked if necessary later… Definitely will go to the ER if closing my eye really becomes an issue over the weekend, and will ring someone if tomorrow looks weirder. I probably ought to make an appointment with my sweet GP next week either way.
I like my doctor’s office. I just wish I didn’t have to see them all so damned much.