Okay...I am lying in bed with my wounded leg propped up, and Mitsuko Uchida is finishing off Schumann's "Davidsbundlertanze & Fantasie" on my iTunes, though I can barely hear it with the fan going. I am not officially on the disabled list, but I have to be good and not do too much over the course of the next few days.
Right up front, I want you to realize that what I'm writing about is not to bemoan my condition, or that I am at death's door. I've already been there once, so let's forget that.
But...what was to be a routine procedure turned into a week-long agony of weirdness which brings is to the state of the average person's health care and the wonder of why we need to do something about it.
If you don't know, I'm staying quiet on this because I really don't want to talk about it, but I can't help it. Here's the deal: I have over the years found myself susceptible to having a thing called a Sebaceous Cyst, or rather, several of them on my body.
I have two along my jawline, one of which got to be the size of a damn golf ball a few years ago before it blew, and I spent the better part of two days squeezing blood-tinged cottage cheese out of it. Lovely sound it made, too. The same one blew again a couple years ago, but cleared itself out with one huge sound of like someone blowing their nose.
I have one on my lower back which has been there for years, and the one on my inside left leg, right near the family pride. They tend to be hard as rocks, and occur when hair somehow gets twisted up inside the skin (I think). Sebum, this lovely white substance that is either like cottage cheese or hard as a rock, fills into the area and makes things get really big.
They are not cancerous, nor are they particularly dangerous. They're just there; some people notice them, some people don't. I don't like it when people stare at the one on my face, and immediately think something's the matter with me.
Surgical removal is the only way to officially get rid of the things. Draining them doesn't really work, you have to remove the wall of the offending area.
So anyway, a week ago I'm on this same bed, and I felt and heard the cyst go...internally. A very strange feeling. Where's it going, is it getting into my bloodstream, etc., etc. These things make you wonder.
I was urged by a friend of a friend to go to find a doctor, fast. I went to a Patient First outfit, and I must say I like the place. They're open a lot, and provide decent service for not much money.
The doctor there took one look at it, there really wasn't much to look at but the now diminished ball; he saw no issue, no sign of infection, but, "We don't do that here."
The above is almost like the mantra for a lot of doctor places.
This fellow says I need a General Surgeon, for an in and out job. Okay; need to see primary care physician, can't see anyone till Monday.
See where the trouble is beginning? The delay in getting this looked at becomes a problem.
Well, my primary care physician is on vacation (heard that one before, haven't we?). I get her boss; a doctor who was way too happy with the world around him.
By the time this dude sees me, that cyst is now reddening, and not looking so good. I'm doing my best to keep it clean, but the swelling makes it rub...everywhere. Against my skin, against my clothes, against everything. It's getting raw, and it's getting ugly, folks, see where we're going here.
Well, the doctor takes one look at this mess and says he does not dare tap it himself. Okay; why not?
Too many other patients (customers) waiting? Worried about your skills? Or are you just grossed out by what you're seeing and I'm feeling?
So he sends me out front to the desk people and it's call the General Surgery people up the street and get me an appointment. Oh, and drugs.
Antibiotics and me don't get along. I'm allergic to penicillin, and most sulfa meds. So they call in a scrip for a powerful, and expensive antibiotic. Very expensive.
And they try to book me. Oh, tomorrow they say? But he won't have the antibiotics? Let's again ask the doctor if that's okay, shall we?
Meanwhile, I'm standing there, and realizing that the pain that is coming out of that throbbing mass of gristle inside my skin is getting worse.
So they call again..."they have one on the 14th," the young lady behind the counter says.
Eight more days...let's pause for a moment here.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, LADY? IS THERE ONLY ONE SURGERY I CAN GO TO? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND?
I'm saying that to myself of course. They then find one for today (this day), and I figure all right, I can hold out till then. Knowing in the back of my mind, that I am in trouble.
The glutinous mess inside my leg is now expanding and hardening again. There's one small area that's flaming red, and losing its skin. I cannot even put bandages over it, it's that painful.
So, two more fucking days of this and trying to act like everything's okay. And people say our health system is the best ever? NO. NO. FUCK NO. YOU SNOTTY LITTLE FUCKTARDS WITH INSURANCE FOR LIFE, GET REAL!
I have insurance, and it don't pay for shit. I pay $180 for TEN, count 'em, TEN Avelox pills. They make me dizzy, they make my body temperature rise and fall like the waves around Cape Horn, and you hope they actually work.
So I'm toughing it out. The only way I can be comfortable and pain-free is lying down or sitting and not moving. When I stand, not good.
Okay, flash forward to 4 am. I am awakened by something, and I know it ain't good.
I don't even dare move, but I have to. Something down on my leg does not feel right. I feel something there; it's wet. Thick. Glutinous.
It blew. Outward this time. Now a closer inspection reveals the top of this dome has opened itself up to the air. It's dark purple, it's ugly, it's bruised, it's bleeding. Oh, and the pus.
The wastebaskets in my bedroom, office and bathroom became repositories for medical waste. And lots of it. The fucking thing is bottomless, and I am in fucking agony. Two more Aleve (how many of these have I had?) and I finally force my body to calm down enough to where I figure I have no choice but to take the pain of wrapping this semi-fecund mess and hoping I can make it to the appointment.
Bless my friend Alice, for coming to drive me out there. I could not have done it. Into the surgery place, which is basically a doctor's office for the specialty; the guy who leads it looks a prize.
Paperwork, another copay, loud old people SHOUTING AT ONE ANOTHER EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SEATED BESIDE ONE ANOTHER IN THE FUCKING OFFICE. And whatever else.
So finally I am brought back to another waiting room, then into the exam room. More questions, blahfuckingblah and I meet the young female MD who's going to do the job.
Wow. A smart one. One who doesn't think she is all that; one who is professional, not a smiley faced nut, and actually seems to have a handle on the matter.
Nothing against her colleagues, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT. THIS IS NOW INFECTED, ABCESSED. WE DID NOT HAVE TO GO HERE. THIS, as I told one of their receptionists, SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH A WEEK AGO. THEN I WOULD NOT BE HERE.
Well, the Doctor gets down to business. Now...I should tell you if you are eating, STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW. This is not for the squeamish. This is not even for the sadistic or those who derive cheap thrills out of reading or watching a train wreck happen before their eyes.
Needless to say, breathing near this dome of infected flesh causes pain. I keep telling myself that I've endured much worse; my car wreck in '94 and all that went with that, yes, damned sight worse. But this had its own fun little moments, to be sure.
Anyway, the procedure generally calls for a draining of the blood and pus, removal of the cyst (if anything hard actually remains) and a cleaning out of the wall. First things first, cleaning around it...
...my doctor did a very good job, and she was very keen on causing me as little discomfort as possible. (Mozart's Mass in C Minor, with valkyries singing along with forboding music has begun...oh this works).
That done, the injection of painkiller, with a very long needle. The young lady medical assistant did take an effort to hide the length and thickness of said needle from me, but I still saw it. Strangely, that did not bother me; consider that my dental hygienist went through school sticking those into her own gums as part of her training before she got to me...and you will find that not much fazes me.
"You'll feel a stick, and then a burn..." Well, not so bad, really. I felt it, sure, but again the doctor showed her skill at doing this without much issue.
Then we get to the issue. I barely felt the incision, only about an inch long through the infected epidermal layers, and down and in we go. The doctor begins the "draining." Actually, more of a heavy-handed massage of my thigh...the top of the dome had been seeping out all this shit in the morning, so I could only imagine something reminiscent of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 going on where I could not see.
That is one creepy fucking feeling...you can feel the ooze splattering, gushing and crawling down your leg into the waiting formerly white medical stuff they use down there to catch shit.
I have seen Youtube videos of this kind of procedure; if you want, go there and then you'll really be grossed out.
Now if this is not enough for you (are you with me still? Good.), we then get to the main event. REMOVAL.
I don't know what tool the doctor used, a forceps of some sort, and she started working around in there with it. Now the pain really starts. This is a unique brand of torture; didn't last long, but that was enough.
The doctor shows me a piece of the sebum that was in there; half the size of a dime, it looked like a piece of plastic that had been chewed on by some animal.
So while they fill a wastebasket full of the remnants of my leg, they finally clean it off again. In the past, they used to pack the entire hole with cotton or something other; you'd have to have it removed every day, cleaned, repacked, etc. They don't do that anymore.
The wound is still open, and the idea is to keep it draining. You tuck a corner of a gauze bandage into the hole, then hold that in place while you use your second and third hands to wrap it in place. Not too difficult, but you have to be thorough. You need to get it tight, but not too tight.
So...hopefully there's a scrip for Vicodin awaiting me, though I don't think I will need it. The post-operative pain is very little, and Aleve does a good number on me. I can shower, but I cannot swim, so I need a new training adjustment.
I have to keep an eye on this wound, and make sure it stays good until next Tuesday, when the doc wants to see me again. Hopefully we'll have made progress; a re-drain, maybe or something other.
Anyway...the point I make about all this is that I really don't feel I should have been made to fucking wait an entire week to have this done. I would not have an abcess and infection had I been able to have access to my doctor, or any doctor and be able to get this done.
Instead we have this; someone has to be seriously fucked up or near death before anyone will act. I have never understood the world of insurance billing, but I know when things don't work.
The argument over what kind of health care works and does not work is left to the people who think they know what works. I don't want anything to do with it, and I'm sick of hearing all the lies about how wonderful it is.
It is not. It is a fucked up system where bureaucrats and non-medical people are deciding how things will be run, and doctors, nurses, assistants and patients have to figure out how to work within that.
You may not like Obamacare, but is it worse than what we have now? Or what we once had? Remember HMO's? Managed Care? Horseshit, was what it was, and I know because I had to fight with them every fucking time I went to the pharmacy or to any doctor's office.
So...just to make a long story short, I'm okay. I'm taking it easy and hopeful this all works out. I think it will. Exercise in patience.
Now, here's the update on my moving of the blog. I will likely be leaving here and going to Wordpress. The aim is to attract a wider audience and have something a bit better to present.
Also, to stop the Russians from pinging me, or whatever it is they're doing.
I'm getting a lot of hits from Russia, but I don't think they're humans. If you are, please leave a comment and tell me what you are reading of mine.
Some kind of bot or engine is doing it, and I don't know why. Weird.
Anyway, I shall have hopefully better things to write about.
Oh, and I have studiously ignored the Olympic Games. They really rather bore me. NBC's coverage has been absolute shit, and the BBC has totally owned them. The Brits get that little nuance that there are actually nearly 200 COUNTRIES WHO HAVE SENT ATHLETES TO THE GAMES.
IT IS NOT THE AMERICAN OLYMPIC GAMES, NBC. GOT IT? I doubt it.
Time to crash. Hope your week went better than mine. Peace.