For those who are unfamiliar with California, let me tell you that Sacramento, where I live, is not exactly a small town. I know when you were in 4th grade and learning the State Capitals, it took several passes with the flash cards to remember that Sacramento is the capital of California, but that's only because LA and San Francisco steal our thunder. The Sacramento metropolitan area, in fact, has two and a half million people.
And, it's a nice place to live, with a lot to do, or so I hear. I'm a homebody so I wouldn't really know, but I read in the paper that we have fabulous rivers and professional theater and fantastic restaurants manned by James Beard-nominated chefs. We have what is considered great weather and, of course, I'm here. Sacramento is most famous for being easy to get away from - it's only a 2 hour drive to San Francisco and the same distance to Lake Tahoe, and even shorter if you are going to Napa and wine country. Homes are affordable, by California standards anyway, which means you are going to pay a lot for a two bedroom crapshack compared to Idaho - where I hear they run about ten bucks - but you won't pay in the millions and still have to sweep a dirt floor, like you would in San Francisco.
We also have more than one well-respected cancer and radiology center and we have doctors who have been trained at Harvard and Baylor and other learned institutions; not all of whom were at the bottom of their classes either.
Why do I defend my city of choice?
As promised, Dr. SuperSurgeon called me back as soon as he and his tech support team were able to crack open the mystery of the PET CD.
Unfortunately, his phone call only generated more mysteries, and it put me right back on the cancer see-saw.
I had hoped to hear, "As expected, your PET looks fine, and it was nice getting to know your slippery liver, enjoy your small town life."
But, what I actually heard was, "We need to get you back to San Francisco and redo your scans."
He said that after reviewing my Sacramento-generated scans with the San Francisco radiologist, they were uncertain about what they were seeing, and the "conservative thing to do" would be to rescan in his facility where the machines are clearer.
Once I got past the idea that anybody in San Francisco would ever consider doing anything that could even remotely be considered conservative, I agreed.
Who doesn't want monthly radiation?
Then I started wondering about why the scans from my own hometown are blurry. Are Sacramento radiology techs playing some kind of joke on their big brother San Francisco medical counterparts, and hilariously putting their thumbs in the way of the photos?
"Haha, that'll teach those big city slickers!"
Or, maybe it's just an accident. I know how easy that is to do; half my iPhone pictures are of my thumb.
(The other half are of my dog.)
I got to thinking that maybe it's not the techs' ability - maybe it's the equipment. Are Sacramento machines really that bad? Or, could there be some big city snobbery at play?
Really, it's not like we are in a third-world country or they pull the only CT scanning machine available around on a cart pulled by a team of donkeys. But, maybe they did stop buying CT machines in 1988 when the price of rent started to climb, and they figure slightly blurry is good enough. After all, we are only 2 hours away from SF, it's our claim to fame. If blurry pictures don't cut it, we don't have far to go for clear ones. And, the State can use the money it takes to cross the bridge.
Not being an expert in medical equipment, I suppose it is possible, even likely, that a famous doctor at a world-renowned medical center does have better scanning machines than are available here in Sacramento. After all, doctors are just grown up boys, and they all like their special toys. The bigger you are, the better your toys. So back I go, sometime in April, to get the elite, clear scan that will actually show if cancer is growing back. Hopefully, this elite scan comes with a mani/pedi.
All this means, of course, that they are not sure what they saw on my blurry Sacramento PET but that something didn't look quite right, and so my three days of thinking I was cancer-free and the surgery was a success are over. I'm back to the unknown with the shadow of that noose hanging over my head again and I'm back to worrying my son might have to go to college sheetless.
Honestly, cancer jerks you around more than a 6.9 earthquake. Which, by the way, is one thing we don't have in Sacramento. I guess it's a good trade-off. San Francisco, you can keep your clear PETs and big city ways, we'll keep our earthquake-free city and big-thumbed radiologists.
Pain and Frustration
1 week ago