My recurring (chronic?) pregnancy

With all this recent health craziness going on these past several weeks, I’ve had a lot of medical hands on my belly. Eyes have widened when those hands have found my spleen, which has been especially prominent lately. In order to figure out what’s going on inside me, my doctor sent me for an abdominal ultrasound this week.

Ultrasound image of abdomen.

Any idea what this means?

Ultrasound technicians are somehow able to look at their screens and see many things that look to me like 50 shades of grey. They are also highly skilled at not telling the patient what they are seeing. I started the examination by asking what I considered an educated question, quickly followed by, “You’re not going to answer that, are you?” Her dry response, accompanied by a smile: “Good try.” With this, I knew we’d get along well.

But I broke this lovely woman down later in the exam when I pleaded with her to give me some explanation for my expanding girth. Not that I have much say in what she finds, but I provided the options of abdominal fluid or a growing spleen. I told her otherwise I’d just have to admit I was getting fat, and I wasn’t quite ready for that.

My timing could not have been better. Turns out the day before, someone had asked this lovely technician whether she was pregnant, and she is not pregnant, she assured me. I know not to ask any woman if she is pregnant until the precious newborn is cooing in her mother’s arms. (I didn’t really know that until J. taught me. Her social graces are light years ahead of mine.) Let’s clarify that this woman did not in any way look pregnant; she looked like a healthy, young athletic sort. She acknowledged that, out of protest, she had dipped into a few extra leftover Hallowe’en chocolates and was planning on skipping her aerobics class that day. Sounds like my kind of revenge. I imagine this insensitive query gave her some compassion for my current preggo-like predicament.

And so she let the cat out of the bag: my spleen was 23 cm long, 4 cm longer than at my last ultrasound 10 months ago. Since I’ve likened my huge belly to a never-ending pregnancy for a long time, my curiosity led me to the internet. Thanks to Google, within seconds I discovered that my spleen is about the size of a healthy almost-five-month-old fetus.

Of course, it’s still possible that I’m getting fat–I, too, have quickly diminishing leftover Hallowe’en candy in my house–but my ultrasound technician, in light of her own experience the day prior, was sensitive enough not to suggest that. She was instead fascinated by my spleen’s outsizing my liver, which she does not see very often.

Did the technician break the rules by sharing this information with me? Not really; she wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know in my gut. And she helped me make sense of how my body was feeling. In return, I was appropriately indignant over the insensitive question she’d been asked the day before. Least I could do.

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