[Spoiler warning: Mildly squicky medical details within. The squeamish may not wish their appetites spoiled.]
It had been quite some time since Laura or I had visited a doctor, probably too long. Now we're all too familiar with the decor at our physician's new office.
Do I need to tell you how it started? Okay, it burned a little when I peed. (Don't worryLaura's story and mine are not related.) This went on for a couple of days and I didn't pay much attention to it, but then on Saturday morning it didn't just burn. It felt like a red-hot poker was being jabbed up there when I peed.
Our doctor doesn't have office hours on weekends, so I took myself to a clinic. The doctor there didn't take much of a medical history from me, but he put me on an antibiotic in case it was a urinary tract infection, told me to drink lots of water, and sent me home.
I kept meaning to make an appointment with our regular doctor, especially since the burning, while its intensity fluctuated, never really got any better. On Wednesday, however, something new happened. My urine looked normal at first, but was followed by a bright red stream. When the panic subsided, I called my doctor to see if I could get in that day. I realized that, far from having a UTI (which I already pretty much knew I didn't, since the antibiotic wasn't helping), I probably had stones. I passed a stone once before, in 2006, and the things apparently run in my family. I should have realized what it was sooner, but I guess I didn't want to think about that possibility.
My doctor confirmed that was likely the case when I saw her that afternoon. She put me on a different antibiotic, Cipro, just as a precaution, told me to drink lots and lots of water, told me to make an appointment with my urologist, and told me to go to an emergency room immediately if I started having pain in my sides or developed a fever.
That was thirteen days ago, November 9th. I still haven't seen my urologist because the earliest appointment I could get was November 30th. The blood in my urine has only recurred once since then, but the pain during urination fluctuates between pretty intense and nonexistent. I think I've passed at least one small stone, which felt very strange but not at all painful, but I can't be sure that was the case. All I can say for sure is that urinating felt completely normal for the rest of that day, but that it was back to burning to next day.
Still eight days to go before I can see my urologist, at which point I imagine he will stick a camera up my urethra and take a peek around inside my bladder. Fun times. It's happened to me before.
Meanwhile, my left eye had been bothering me a little, but I didn't really pay much attention to it since all my energy was focused on my quarter-hourly trips to the bathroom. But on Tuesday last week Laura told me that my eye looked really terrible, all red and a bit puffy. Like I said, I hadn't been paying much attention. My glasses have thick rims and narrow lenses, which has the effect of casting a shadow onto my eye when I look in the mirror, so I hadn't noticed how red the eye had become.
By now our doctor was on vacation, but I dragged myself over to the office the next morning during walk-in hours and saw one of the other doctors. Probably conjuctivitis, she said, though if, as I told her, it had really been bothering me for almost a week, I should have been waking up with a lot of crust around my eye, which I wasn't. "Maybe the Cipro tablets you've been taking have kept the conjunctivitis from worsening, like it normally would," she said. "I'm going to give you Cipro eyedrops. Hopefully you'll start to see improvement within a day or two."
I did, and I'm happy to report that my eye is pretty back to normal. If only my damn knee would stop hurting now when I'm going up and down stairs.
Since everything seems to happen at once, Laura has been in and out of doctor's offices at the same time. It was a little over a month ago that we made a trip to New York City. Because of a work commitment that came up, she ended up leaving Chicago a day later than I did. As she tells the story, that first night that I was in New York, she was riding the subway home from work when the train banked hard around a curve. A woman standing near her, texting, was not holding onto anything and fell onto Laura, smashing her hand. When the woman straightened up again, Laura's left pinky finger was sticking out at a funny angle at the second knuckle.
Laura looked at the finger, as did the shocked woman. Then Laura took her right hand (which, you may or may not know, consists of only two opposing digits, thanks to a birth defect, and is nicknamed The Claw) and popped the left pinky back into place. The woman turned ashenthough Laura says she doesn't know whether it was because of the finger-popping or because of the unexpected appearance of The Claw itselfand fled through the crowd to the far end of the train car.
(I told Laura she should have held her hands up accusingly and shouted, "I'm a hand model!!!" She does guard her fingers jealously since, as she says, she doesn't have any phalanges to spare.)
Anyway, the finger ached for a while, and it felt stiff, but Laura thought it was actually getting better. Finally, though, the knuckle swelled up and she went in to see the doctor. An X-ray confirmed that there was a hairline fracture in there. She visited an orthopedic surgeon in case surgery was going to be necessary, but he said he didn't think it would be, that it looked like it was going to heal right on its own. He did, however, pull out a gigantic needle and administer two injections of an anti-inflammatory directly into her finger joint. Laura says the surgeon asked her first how well she dealt with pain. Pretty well, Laura said. No, said the surgeon, as in do you pass out?
She didn't, but that's how much the injections hurt.
Laura's finger does seem to be improving, but that's not all that's been going on. Ella recently visited the doctor because of a limp in her left hind leg. She was diagnosed with a probable partial rupture of her cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL, which is the canine equivalent of the ACL. This knee injury meant we had to prevent Ella from running for an entire week, though walking was prescribed as "very good for her." Question: Have you ever tried to walk a dog and prevent it from running at all? It was a long week. Also, Bart (our Honda Accord) has been to the doctor to have a brake light fixed and a new set of tires installed.
So there you go. We've now been to doctor's offices more often in the past two weeks than in the past two years. The lesson here, kids, is to go visit your doctor at the first sign of any problem. Don't put it off! Also, stop that damn texting, unless you can do it one-handed.