Chapter 3: Extensive Testing
Mike was beginning to find that, like everything else, even going to the doctor's was getting predictable. He opened his eyes and scrambled to turn off the earsplitting alarm that plagued him every morning. Normally, Mike would have then gotten up and headed to the bathroom to prepare for his day, but on this morning, he laid his head back on his pillow and stared at his ceiling. This was the first time Mike had ever actually needed to see a specialist, so he couldn't help but be slightly afraid.
Mike wanted to think nothing was wrong, and he tried desperately to do so, but he couldn't get the doubt out of his head. What could possibly be wrong him, and what could possibly be wrong with his liver? Mike could feel his eyes lightly glaze over with mental and physical exhaustion as he let out a deep sigh. He felt his eyelids become heavy as he drifted back off to sleep.
"Mike! What are you doing? Why aren't you ready to go?" Mike's mom yelled as she feverishly entered his room.
"Oh crap!" Mike said jumping out of his bed realizing he had fallen back to sleep. "How much time do I have?"
"We need to be leaving in about five minutes." Mike's mom told him. "What happened? Didn't your alarm go off?"
"Yeah, I mean I just… I guess I fell back asleep." Mike said quickly walking to his bathroom.
"Alright, well hurry up and get ready so we can go." His mom said walking out of his room.
As Mike brushed his teeth he then realized this was the first time that actually meant something.
Unfortunately, the specialist's office was across town, so both Mike and his mother knew it was going to be a long ride, especially with all of the traffic. So when Mike was ready, they both headed to the car and began their journey. Majority of the car ride was silent, similar to their last trip together, except now they had music playing softly in the background, soft rock hits of yesterday and today.
Even after his high octane awakening, Mike found himself with his head leaned against the door's windshield, slowly drifting off. Of course as much as he drifted off, he couldn't seem to get completely asleep. Even though now was the perfect time for a nap, his mind wouldn't shut off, and he was becoming increasingly worried about what tests he would be subjected too upon reaching the office, and what results those tests would yield. He desperately wanted to sleep, since these same thoughts had been plaguing him since his last appointment with his doctor, but his attempts bore no fruit.
After about an hour of trying to go to sleep, Mike finally found himself about to go unconscious until he felt the car come to a stop and then shut off.
"Hey, you awake?" His mom asked him with a gentle tone. Mike blinked his eyes a few times and looked over at her with a soft, tired expression. "We're here."
They both left the car, and walked across the long parking lot to the specialist's office. Upon walking in they were happy to see only about 3 parties sitting in the lobby, but they were slightly disturbed at how some of them looked. One of the parties had an old man breathing with a plastic tube connected to a small tank in a bag. Every breath seemed to be deep and strained, and the man's eyes seemed tired and exhausted, almost as if he had already given up. Even the young woman next to him seemed tired. The other party had a man in about his forties who seemed to weigh possibly 250 to 270 pounds, and by no means in shape. He had a blond haired woman sitting next to him, also somewhere in her forties. While she didn't weigh as much as him, she still seemed a bit overweight, and quite a bit out of shape herself. Her hair was frayed and her face told the story of a hard life. The last party didn't seem to have anyone that was particularly bad; they all seemed to be relatively normal people. A young woman who was decent looking, a decent looking man who was probably her husband, and a young child probably around the age of eight, all looked pretty healthy.
After his mom signed them both in, they took a seat and waited. It only took about five minutes for the large door to open and for an old man in a wheelchair to be led out by a nurse. The healthy family all stood up to help the man, and after talking with the nurse for a minute, they were handed a piece of paper and they left. Suddenly, Mike became even more worried. It turns out that he was the only healthy person here to the see the specialist at all. Then Mike began to wonder, what if he wasn't as healthy as he thought? He looked down at his lap with an expression that equally reflected his exhaustion as well as his worry.
"Try not to worry too much," Mike's mom said rubbing his back. "The doctor said it might be nothing."
"… But what if it is something?" Mike asked in a low tone, trying not to break the silence in the office. He could tell the people in the office were looking at him with the corner of their eyes, pitying the teenager with liver problems.
"Well, then we're gonna make sure you get all better." His mom said with a smile.
Mike simply gave a slow nod as a response. His mom's words seemed to cheer him up somewhat, but they could only do so much.
One thing Mike, nor his mother, had anticipated was that you typically spend much longer with a specialist then you do with a regular doctor, so they found themselves waiting about an hour and a half before they got in. They couldn't imagine how long it would have taken if the office had been busy. Regardless, they were glad they had finally been called back, and they made their way through the door with the nurse who had called them in. They walked down a long hallway, this one being much bigger than the one at his regular doctor's office. Mike couldn't help but be slightly intimidated at some of the large machinery he saw on his walk. Eventually, he just looked at the ground, not wanting to see into anymore of the rooms.
Finally, they reached a room that seemed oddly similar to the room he had talked to his regular doctor in. The nurse sat him down on the small bed with a paper sheet on it, while his mom sat on a chair a few feet away. There was a small radio that was quietly playing smooth jazz. They spent a few minutes listening to the complicated stylings of an obvious Saxophone virtuoso, until the doctor walked in. He was a dark furred Chartreux, and like most doctors, was carrying a clipboard.
"Hi, I'm Doctor Bernard." He said offering his hand to Mike, and then his mother. "So, Michael, what I'm seeing here is that you have a particularly high amount of AFP, as well as red blood cells. So I'll start off by asking if you've had any odd symptoms lately." He said with a slight French accent, truly a rare thing to hear in a place like Roseville.
"Uh, no, I don't think I have." Mike said slightly unsure.
"Okay, well I'm going to read off a few different symptoms, tell me if you've had any of these." He said to Mike. "And please tell me if you've noticed any of these symptoms in your son as well. " He said looking at his mother. They both nodded.
"Fatigue?" The doctor asked.
"Um, yeah, I suppose I have been tired lately." Mike said trying to hide the worry in his voice. The doctor marked something on his clipboard and continued.
"No, well, sometimes." Mike said suddenly realizing it.
"When do you normally get them?" The doctor asked looking up from his clipboard.
"Sometimes after I eat dinner I guess." Mike said with a worried expression rubbing his arm and looking at his lap in nervousness.
"Mike, you never told me about that…" His mother said a little hurt he had never brought it up.
"Well, I mean it was never really that bad. It just started recently, and I don't get it every time I eat anyway."
"Hmm, how about jaundice?" The doctor asked looking at his clipboard once again.
"Uh, what's that?" Mike asked, knowing it sounded familiar.
"It's yellowing of the skin or eyes."
"Oh, no," Mike said remembering it from sex-ed.
"Alright, well what I'm gonna do is run you through some tests." The doctor said walking over to his desk and opening up a drawer.
"What, uh, kind of tests?" Mike asked with apprehension.
"Don't worry," the doctor said inserting a small bottle onto the top of a syringe. "Nothing that bad."