Gripped

Oscar returned the clipboard with all of his medical information to the front desk. He wasn’t quite sure if the family medical history part was right, his mom’s side was a bit distant. He sat down in a plastic chair with a thin cloth cushion and then pulled out a small bottle of ibuprofen. 200 grams each, he popped two pills and dry swallowed them, only afterwards noticing that the other sides waiting area had a vending machine. But it was fine. It had to be fine. It would be fine. He checked the clock. Only a single minute passed. He continued to stare at it for what felt like half an hour, and the clock only ticked 5 more times.

A woman in the waiting room forced a cough, and Oscar looked at her. She motioned downward. He looked down and saw he was bouncing his leg. Probably too much. 

“Oscar Soto, please come to the front desk.” The intercom shocked Oscar with its volume and he gripped his chest. 

After standing, Oscar noticed a nurse holding open the door to the observation rooms. The nurse was a younger man with short blonde hair and light lavender scrubs. Oscar walked towards the nurse, looking for where to go next, but the nurse looked at his shoes instead. 

“Which room am I in?” Oscar spoke gently.

Without looking up, the nurse responded, “Please go to room 4. Dr. Karzca will be with you shortly.” 

As Oscar walked into the hall he noticed the other nurses and administrators begin to look down as he passed them. 

“Which direction is room 4?”

A nurse working at desk in the back continued to look down, engrossed in her paperwork, and pointed down the hall. Oscar saw the blue number 4 above the door and entered the room. He sat down, and his leg started bouncing again, quicker this time. Absentmindedly, Oscar reached up to his chest and pulled at his shirt. He noticed what he was doing, reached into his bag and pulled out the bottle of ibuprofen again. The label said not to take more than 2 in four hours, but surely the manufacturers were not considering the amount of pain that Oscar was in, so he took two more. Dry swallowing was harder now, so he chewed them.

Ten more minutes passed, even though the clock said it was 2 minutes. Oscar picked up a pamphlet on IBS. He read through the symptoms and the prognosis and the treatments. He smiled a little, happy to know one thing he for sure didn’t have.

The door opened and Dr. Karzca walked into the room. “You having digestion troubles too? We’ve been trying out a new medicine for IBS and it’s been doing wonders for my other patients. We can put you on it right away.”

Oscar spoke up, just a little, “Oh, uh, no, just trying to keep my mind busy. The pain goes down a little if I’m not thinking about it.”

Dr. Karzca ran a hand through his long brown hair. “Look, it’s completely okay if you do! There’s no shame or judgment in my office. Just a desire to help each patient.”

“N-no, its, uhh, just the chest pain. The chest pain and the trouble breathing. Nothing else really. Well, also headaches, but I think that’s stress, from the chest pains.”

“Well, we got your scans from the lab. Would you like to look at them with me?”

Oscar looked at Dr. Karzca, waiting for him to turn and speak to him directly instead of continuing to stare at the file in front of him. 

Instead, he gave in and responded, “Yes, please.”

Dr. Karzca pulled out a thin plastic sheet from the file and set it in front of Oscar. He turned to Oscar, but kept looking at the scan in between the two. Oscar could understand a bit of the scan. It showed his longs, it showed his heart, and it showed five long white growths coming from a collection of small white dot growths.

The doctor pointed at the lungs with a pen, “If you look here, you can see your lungs, and then here is your heart, and all of that seems fine. No problems there.”

“Okay…”

“The problem is this here.” Dr. Karzca circled around the white masses that seemed to entwine around the other figures in the scan.”

“What are those?”

“Well, judging by the density of the material, and the shape…Look, do you see how its the same shade as your ribs? We think it’s a hand, a human hand. These are the fingers here,” He pointed at the longer growths, “and these are the metacarpals, the part of the hand after the wrist.” He pointed at the smaller growths further down.

“That…that can’t be right, right?”

Dr Karzca looked back at the file and his notes. “We think its a tumor. I mean, some tumors grow teeth. One grew an eye. But this is definitely the most defined tumor I’ve ever seen.”

Oscar breathed in the sterile air of the room, held it there, and then exhaled. “What do we do now? How do we get rid of it?”

“We need to figure this out, maybe consult a surgeon up at the hospital. Look, do you see how it’s placed? It looks like its gripping your pulmonary arteries and veins. The hand doesn’t seem to have much muscle definition, but it’s squeezing.”

“Okay…go on.”

“Well, a single nick could cause severe damage. I think the best course of action is to perform a biopsy to see what material it is made of and then just monitor it. We can give you something stronger for the pain in the meantime.”

“I want it gone.”

“I know, and we will remove it if we can, but I’ve never seen anything like this. We don’t know what it’s doing, how its growing. We have to be cautious.”

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