This may be part of what is contributing to my foul mood.
Over a year ago, I went to see a doctor about getting my Happy Pill prescriptions refilled and about this overwhelming fatigue that I couldn't seem to shake. He sent me to get lab tests. The urinalysis (and here is where we start to get the TMI) came back with blood. He dismissed it as being "that time of month," and sent me back.
Incidentally, he never asked when the last "time of month" had begun, as most doctors do. This was my first clue that maybe he wasn't the doctor for me. That, and the fact that he dismissed me when I assured him that it was not "that time of month."
I went back, gave the sample (at least that is pain-free), and it came back with the same results. Hematuria. Again, he dismissed it as "that time of month" and sent me back for a third time. Understand, both times, I was careful to schedule the lab visit so that there would be no question that it was "that time of month." Yet, here he was again, extending this process by yet another month or so simply because I get "that time of the months." In fact, he even told me that, were I a man, he would have sent me to a urologist after the first lab visit.
I found another doctor. A female doctor. As I age, I find that I prefer to see women. In fact, I'd rather see a woman who is maybe a decade older than myself because, first, a woman knows what it feels like to be in a woman's body and will be less likely to casually dismiss things as "that time of month." Second, a woman older than myself has been through the things that I am about to go through, like menopause, so it all won't be as mysterious to her.
This female doctor sent me to the lab, got all of the work done. Hematuria again. So, she sent me back just to be certain. When the results came back again, she sent me to a specialist.
She also sent me to get a mammogram because I'm over forty and have managed to avoid them. I'd prefer needles to mammograms. I honestly thought my tits would pop. Then, I wondered if that ever happened to women with implants. The lab tech assured me that she had never seen a breast with or without an implant pop, but she understood how I felt. She'd had her boobs in the vise more than once herself.
Anyway, after being referred to the specialist, I dawdled. For all of my health-care feminist talk and worry, I do hate to see doctors who will most likely use needles or who will like to poke around down in my insides. As that Vagina Monologue about the "Angry Vagina", "You got to convince my vagina, seduce my vagina, engage my vagina's trust."* I'd like a little sweet talk, first. Some candlelight. Dinner. You have to get it over its issues about violation and abuse.
Sadly, that's not the way it works. So, I cowgirled up, girded my loins, and made the appointment. If finding a female GP nearby is difficult, try finding a female specialist. Then, factor in the need to stay "in network" on your insurance. You know, having lived without insurance for long long stretches of my adult life, I can tell you that having insurance is grand; but, the one and only benefit of NOT having insurance is that you can go to pretty much anyone and don't have to deal with all of this network and paperwork business.
I went to the specialist. You know, gynecologists believe in the KY jelly. Urologists don't. Ouch. At least she said that all of my equipment is in excellent condition, except for two things. The first being the hematuria. The second being a set of symptoms that had developed in the previous month. Inconvenient symptoms. Symptoms that, on that very same day, had me excusing myself in the middle of teaching a class to run to the ladies' room. Quickly. After I had visited the very same ladies' room scarcely an hour earlier.
Thank goodness for antibiotics.
When these symptoms showed up, I was glad that I already had an appointment to visit this specialist. You see, I think the hematuria is related to these symptoms. Not the ones that I'm having now, but the same ones that I was having for nearly two years between 2005 and 2007. For most of that time I had little to no insurance. I was on my little professional detour through library school, dirt poor, and only had the insurance that allowed me to visit the very minimal school health center during the semester. Then, when I did get insurance, I was paid so very little that I could barely afford the co-pay, much less any other charges that might result from the discovery of any complications.
I did, once, explain my symptoms to the doctor in the health center -- who I swear was not old enough to be out of college, much medical school, she appeared to be so young, and who was used to dealing with bodies that were a good 15-20 years younger than myself. She told me not to worry, "sometimes urine just has sediment in it." Sediment? You know, I had been peeing for nigh on 4 decades at that time. This "sediment" thing was new. It disturbed me. What's more, research (Google), told me that my symptoms indicated an infection, not business as usual.
How did I conclude that those symptoms were perhaps the result of happy bacteria partying in my urinary tract? In 2007, I visited my parents. My nephew, 2 and in pre-school, was also visiting. We bonded over a shared bottle of water. Two days later, I had strep. I worried that I might have given it to him, and asked my sister-in-law. She said strep had been going around his pre-school. Far from me infecting my nephew, the little munchkin had infected ME!
I did have adequate insurance and an adequate paycheck at that time, so I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. Not only did the strep clear up, but so did the other symptoms. "Hmmm," I thought, "could there have been more going on below than 'sediment'?" I have since read that untreated bladder infections can travel through the urinary tract and cause damage to the kidneys. Damage to the kidneys results in hematuria; and, of course, I haven't been helping matters by giving in to my own discomfort with examinations in the pelvic area.
This specialist has given me antibiotics for these symptoms, but she wants to do some exploration in regard to the hematuria. First, I have to go get a sonogram on my kidneys and bladder and everything else in and around that whole system. That's later today. I'm hoping that the sonogram is like those that they do for pregnant women, and doesn't involve poking, prodding, or anything invasive. Of course, I do have to drink about a gallon of water beforehand, and keep it in.
Ah, the irony: the sonogram requires holding it, but the infection insists on getting rid of it. Immediately.
The sonogram isn't all. She also wants to go spelunking in my bladder. My eyeballs popped out of my head just at the mention of what she wants to do. "Don't worry," she told me, "we will put you in a twilight state."
"Twilight state?" I wondered. "Like sparkly vampires?" Then, I thought, "oh, shit! This involves an IV." IVs freak me out. I don't want a needle staying in my arm. In fact, I have such anxiety about needles staying in my arm that I worry that it will overcome the effects of the anesthetic and I will feel all of the spelunking. Then, again, maybe the anxiety over the IV will distract me from the spelunking. Either way, this is not shaping up to be one of my better days.
The concept of "twilight" also freaked me out a little. I'm assuming this means that I won't be all the way into dreamland. I'm not sure if I like that idea. With the IVs and the spelunking, I'd rather be out cold. That, or I'd like to be conscious enough to watch whatever she's watching going on down in the cave. I'd just like to not feel anything from the waist down. Then, I wondered if she could just give me the laughing gas that the oral surgeon gave me when I got the wisdom teeth out.
That led to a logistical problem. I have to have someone drive me home. I'm kinda embarrassed to ask anyone to drive for me, not only because of the nature of the procedure, but also because who knows what I will say while I'm high on the way home. After all, I only share my deepest, dearests secrets on the blog. Real life? Oh, hell no!
Here's where the Gentleman Caller proves himself to be a stand-up guy. He's going to fly down to tote me to and from the doctor that day. Who does that? Certainly not any of my ex-idiots. To be fair, he is rather looking forward to seeing me on drugs. He said that he wants to get me to do simple math equations. I told him that he would get the same result right now, if math is involved. So, this will also be a huge trust test in our relationship, too. At least he's passed the "above and beyond the call of duty" test.
Is there a moral to this story, or even a purpose? Not really, except that, if there is something wrong in my kidneys, and it is the result of an infection that went untreated for 2 years, and if the lack of treatment was due to lack of insurance and affordable health care, well, there you have a mundane argument for a comprehensive (as in "covers everything you absolutely need") public option in health care.
*Here is a perfomance of it that I found via Google. In the Women's Studies class that I'm observing, the instructor is showing Eve Ensler's HBO DVD. The guys in the class, for all of their fascination with pussy, and all of their desire to get pussy, are completely freaked out by the posessors of those pussies talking frankly about their vaginas.
Vagina Monologues - "The Angry Vagina"
SuSan MySpace Video