I picture it in my mind as looking something like an iguana, with its tail wrapped around my spine and the top of its head pressing against the inside of my lower abdomen.
The radiologist who took its picture on Thursday called it a sarcoma and said it grew from the muscles of my back. If that's already too much information, read no further.
I first noticed it months ago as a hard area about the size of an iPhone, not too far from the place where I had a minor hernia repair last year, and figured it was scar tissue forming around the patched place.
But I went ahead and made an appointment with the surgeon for last week, because we were going to be in New York anyway for family stuff. I expected a quick exam and blessed assurance.
"So where is this thing? I can't feel it," said my doc.
"It's here," I said, pointing to the spot. "I can only feel it when I'm on my back." I lay down on the examining table.
"That's not where I operated," he told me. "The hernia was lower."
He put his hand over the place I was indicating.
"Oh," he said. "I don't like that."
He felt around some more and said it again. "I don't like that at all."
"If you don't like it, I don't like it either," I replied.
After trying half-heartedly to come up with harmless reasons for finding an iguana in my belly, he told me that rather than speculate it would be best to get a CAT scan right away.
I went in the next morning, and a few hours later he called with the very bad news I was expecting but still hoping not to hear. He gave me the name of an oncology surgeon at Beth-Israel where he had made me an appointment for Monday morning and wished me luck.
As I write this on Saturday, that's all I know about my condition. I expect to learn more when I take my CAT scan to the new surgeon Monday. Through friends who've been through this we've identified other possibilities at Sloan-Kettering and NYU and we'll consult them too.
But I've now read enough about what they call soft-tissue sarcomas to know that I am in for the worst summer of my life. Feel free to join me.