February 5th, 2003


Today's Word Is: Gamma Knife.

I’ve got a few doctor friends, being a model minority and all; so I’ve got to remind myself to ask one of them what the deal is with their making patients wait.
And wait.
And wait.
I mean 15 minutes is tolerable. Barely. But most of the time your ass is waiting close to an hour while they make a miniature chateau out of tongue depressors. Or take an online personality test to see what kind of melon they are. Or play practical jokes on the other doctors with your stool sample.

Yesterday, for instance, we spent about three hours waiting, and maybe twenty minutes actually talking with the neurologist, three minutes of which was him telling my baby sister how unlucky she was. The guy told us that the lesion in my sister’s brain was really tiny (good news) – too tiny for a biopsy (good news). But he wasn’t quite sure what the lesion was (bad news) or if it even was a lesion (head-scratching news). However he was fairly certain that they’d probably end up zapping it with a Gamma Knife.

A Gamma Knife sounds like something Boba Fett would use to shank Batman in a bar fight. Or a cool name for a garage band. In fact it’s not a knife at all, but a really large hat…

I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but my basic description of it is this: The Gamma Knife essentially fires 201 concentrated beams of radiation from 201 different angles. All those beams intersect at precisely one location, the lesion, thereby “killing” the little fucker. There’s no open surgery involved and the side effects are minimal.

But, as I mentioned before, the neurologist wasn’t even sure what it was yet. Whether it was a tumor that traveled up from the ovary or something else entirely. So the Gamma Knife may not even be in the picture. Over the next fourteen days he and his staff are going to analyze the MRI scans, CAT scans, PET scans, etc. – and try to get a clue.

In the mean time, we wait. And I continue to try to get my sister a puppy. As of yesterday, my mom changed her mind and decided she didn’t want a small defecating animal in the house. I tried to change her mind, and it worked, briefly, then she changed her mind again. She’s an extraordinarily stubborn woman, my mom; and I not only inherited this, but perfected it to a destructive art, a ninja weapon. As a result we’ve had some epic arguments over the years, about my major, my career choice, even my taste in pants. So in keeping with hallowed tradition, our puppy negotiations almost turned ugly…

ME: Another reason she needs the puppy is because you’ve got a high blood-pressure personality.

MOM: Cannot be. My blood pressure is very healthy.

ME: No, I mean your personality gives other people high blood pressure. You’re the ahjuma version of salt.

Luckily every time she hears me inserting a Korean word into a sentence, she automatically ceases to take me seriously. Or she probably would’ve spanked me right there in the doctor’s office. Or worse, pinched me on the arm, on the skin on the back of your triceps area – that really smarts.

But I don’t want to taint the whole puppy thing with the usual mother-son headbutting. I just don’t want there to be bad feelings period. There’s simply no room for it right now. So I’ve decided to swallow a maturity pill and take the diplomatic approach, even if it means waiting longer for results. God willing, my sister will get her puppy. And everything will turn out okay.