Thursday, March 17, 2016

Penile Discharge Deja Vu

Yesterday was groundhog day-

About 2 months ago, I was volunteering at one of USC's free student-run clinics, located in a homeless shelter.  The last patient of the day was a guy with penile discharge and burning. After treating him, we went out for ramen in Little Tokyo afterwards, since there isn't too much else to do in LA at 9pm on a weekday.  We had a great time eating and chatting late into the night.  It would be the last time I'd ever speak normally.


The next morning I woke up having lost my voice, and within a week they found a mass in my neck which had permanently taken out one of my vocal nerves. 2 weeks after that, I had had a surgery on said mass, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, and started my chemotherapy cycles.  I also went through 2 months of speaking like Batman in the most hoarse voice of all time.  When popping into patients' rooms, I started opening with "I AM NOT THE DOCTOR YOU NEED, BUT I AM THE MEDICAL STUDENT YOU DESERVE".  (Not really, but that would have been amazing if highly inappropriate)  Last week, one of USC's most skilled ENT surgeons took me back into surgery and restored much of my voice with a medialization thyroplasty.  My chemotherapy had also been going quite well, with relatively tolerable side effects that I was able to work through.

Now we come to last night.  I got a text asking if I could volunteer at the clinic again as they were short on senior students, this being late in the academic year.  I dislike psuedoscience and quackery, and figured I really shouldn't be superstitious.  At the very least, I didn't want my experience at the clinic to end on that note.  So with my voice restored and my chemo going well, I signed up.

Once again, after a full day on rotation, we carpooled out to the homeless shelter.  I was a little apprehensive walking into the clinic, but we soon started seeing patients.  As usual the complaints were varied, and our resources were poor.

Then our last patient came in.  His voice sounded familiar.  And when he began outlining what was going on, his complaint was familiar too.  Our last patient of the day was the exact the same dude saying he had the same penile discharge and burning.

So it goes...

But I still managed to nerve up enough to go out for ramen afterwards.