Thursday Things

1. I haven’t even started my seemingly endless upcoming travels, and I’m already stressing about travel plans for next year.

For years and years, I’ve dreamed of visiting the Netherlands. I’m half Dutch, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, and having been born and raised in the excessively Dutch culture that is West Michigan, I’ve always had a bit of an interest in the Netherlands. In 2014 or 2015, I believe, I decided that I was an adult, darn it, and if I wanted to go to the Netherlands, I could make that happen. Since I’m particularly interested in seeing the tulips while they’re blooming in the Netherlands, that meant I really could only travel at the end of April. Initially, I planned to go in April 2017 (i.e.: like right now), but then conflict after conflict after conflict came up, so by Thanksgiving of last year, I had already decided to delay my trip until April 2018.

Then, when I got home from work on Monday, I discovered a save the date for a wedding. I had suspected I’d be invited, and had heard a few months ago from the bride’s sister that the couple was planning on a destination wedding. I had forgotten all of that information until I saw the save the date, which announced that the wedding would take place in Punta Cana on…April 20, 2018, which you may notice is “like right now” in 2018.

Needless to say, that put a monkey wrench in my Netherlands plan. On the wedding attendance continuum of “required” to “you only invited me because I asked about how wedding planning was going as a way of making conversation, which you quite mistakenly took as me having any interest whatsoever in flying across the country to see you marry someone I’ve never met,” I’d put this particular event at, “recommended, but not required.” So while I’m not certainly going, I expect that I’ll be going, unless something dramatic happens between now and then. This leaves me with two options: getting a whole lotta passport stamps in April of 2018, or delaying my Netherlands trip by another year, again

I’m definitely leaning towards the “getting a whole lotta passport stamps” option at the moment. I’m tired of putting off visiting the Netherlands, and the more I put it off, the less I believe I’m ever going to actually go through with it when it’s still reasonably easy to do so. I’m not sure I’m particularly interested in traveling to multiple countries over the course of three weeks (because my ideal Netherlands itinerary also includes a couple days in London and traveling to London by train, which would cross Belgium and France off my list of countries I’ve been in as well), but I don’t think I’m 100% opposed to it, either (except for the hours and hours of flying that all of this will entail, but I’m always 100% opposed to flying, given that my happy place is, “anywhere where there is solid ground under my feet, or very easily accessible by my feet.” Haha.). We’ll see how everything shakes out, I guess.

2. Speaking of weddings, I have a wedding in two weeks that’s a destination for me, but not for the couple, since they’re getting married where they live. This wedding is for family, and close family at that, so it definitely lands on the “required” end of the wedding attendance continuum. Anyway, the issue is not that I have to go to this wedding. The issue is that I don’t have a dress to wear to this wedding, nor do I have time to get a dress between now and two weeks from now.

I initially planned on doing Rent the Runway like the good blogger I am, until I realized that Rent the Runway isn’t even half as cheap as I was led to believe (I expected Rent the Runway to be, like, a $30 experience, so when I found out the absolute least amount of money I could spend for an eight day rental [which I have to do, since I’ll be out of town for the wedding for four days] was nearly $70 once you included shipping, insurance, etc., AND the only dress I really liked only came in one size, I became severely uninterested), and further talked myself out of it by remembering every harrowing dressing room experience of my past, when I’ve pulled a dress off a hanger that claimed to be my size only to find it 1) didn’t fit, period or 2) didn’t fit well.

So now I don’t know what to do. I could wear a dress I already own, obviously, and realistically that’s probably what will end up happening, since I didn’t bother to seriously think about any of this until Monday. But I don’t have any dresses that I feel are wedding appropriate. I did this exact same thing the last time I went to a wedding, and ended up wearing a dress I bought from Old Navy like four years ago that got the job done, but it’s like 100% cotton, and I felt so underdressed compared to everyone else. That’s really all I own in the dress department, other than super fancy dresses that would definitely be over the top for a wedding that recommended cocktail attire. I suppose this should be a lesson to me that I should have a cocktail-y wedding appropriate dress on hand for these (or similar) occasions, but man, even the shame of feeling underdressed isn’t enough to make me want to go not just clothes shopping but dress shopping, which is the very worst kind of shopping as far as I’m concerned.

3. My health woes continue, and to say I’m frustrated would be quite the understatement.

To recap, a timeline:

  • Feb. 25: Acquire sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in neck, and white streaks on tonsils.
  • Feb. 27: Go to doctor for aforementioned symptoms, leave with a diagnosis of, “Close enough to strep to call it strep,” get prescription for azithromycin (five days).
  • March 3: Notice recurring cyst has flared up on leg for the first time in five and a half years. Get annoyed, and increasingly uncomfortable throughout the day. Take last dose of azithromycin.
  • March 4: Notice said cyst has caused substantial swelling in the area. Panic. Visit urgent care. Leave with diagnosis of infected cyst and instructions to follow up with a general surgeon for removal. Get prescription for clindamycin (seven days).
  • March 7: Visit general surgeon. Learn that what I had been calling a cyst is not actually a cyst. Leave with diagnosis of, “Maybe MRSA, maybe an ingrown hair, maybe hidradenitis,” and instructions to return if/when it flares up again.
  • March 12: Take last dose of clindamycin, praise the Lord on high that I’m finally done with 11 straight days of antibiotics.
  • March 25: Notice throat feels off, though not quite sore.
  • March 30: Upgrade self-diagnosis of throat from “off” to “sore.”
  • April 7: Visit doctor re: sore throat. Get swabbed six ways from Sunday (ok, fine, twice.) Get a negative rapid strep A result. Have second swab sent off to the lab for further investigation. Get prescription of azithromycin with instructions to wait to fill it until lab results have come back.
  • April 10: All lab results return negative. Still have sore throat. Instructed to take azithromycin anyway (five days).
  • April 11: Begin taking azithromycin. Sore throat heals within hours.
  • April 13: Notice recurring not-cyst has flared once again. Use critical thinking skills acquired from liberal arts education/life in general to think there’s no way it’s just coincidental that this not-cyst, which hadn’t bothered me once since 2011, has now appeared twice in six weeks, both times while on a course of azithromycin. Email doctor with my hypothesis.
  • April 13, approximately two seconds after sending email: Discover doctor is on vacation until April 24, because of course she is.
  • April 15: Take last dose of azithromycin. Praise the Lord on high again, because this round of azithromycin was meaner than the first and consistently left me with crushing nausea for 15-20 minutes about 90 minutes after each dose.
  • April 17: Have nothing to do at work. Set about self-diagnosing with MRSA. Panic.  Call the surgeon, only to learn that the surgeon, who only works on Tuesdays, has no openings on April 18, due to his vacation the previous week. Am told to schedule an appointment for April 25, even though I know from past experience that the not-cyst will long since have healed by that point, meaning there will be nothing available to culture. Schedule appointment anyway.
  • April 17, approximately an hour later: Text my long-suffering mother. Decide to see if I can get in to my doctor’s practice and see a different doctor. Call doctor’s practice. Learn that the office is super booked due to my doctor being out. Manage to sneak in a 4:30 appointment with a different doctor the following day.
  • April 18: Visit different doctor. Recount the entire timeline to him. Doctor expresses doubt over hidradenitis theory and also doubts that a culture will show anything, due to a lack of culturable material coming from what has now been labeled as a boil (culturable material meaning pus. Attractive, I know.). Takes a culture anyway. Asks if I’ve seen a dermatologist about this (no). Asks if I could go see the dermatologist upstairs about it right now (ok, but only if they’re in network, and I do need to be somewhere at 6:30). Learns the dermatologist can see me immediately. Sends me upstairs.
  • April 18, two minutes later: Visit dermatologist. Recount entire timeline to 1) medical assistant 2) physician’s assistant 3) dermatologist. Mentally note how both the PA and dermatologist are significantly less socially awkward than my current dermatologist and file away that information for my annual skin check next year. Learn roughly no new information re: the boil, other than that it exists (duh) and does not appear to be culturable at the moment (also duh). Dermatologist says it could be MRSA, based on how my endless rounds of antibiotics earlier hadn’t prevented this, threatens me with sulfa oral antibiotics that “will be really hard on your stomach.” Throws minor temper tantrum (me, not the dermatologist). Dermatologist backs off oral antibiotic and suggests topical antibiotics and surgical-grade hand/body wash instead. Leave with instructions to return to dermatologist upon recurrence, with assurance that they will see me that day, no matter what, unless it’s a Friday because they close early on Fridays or a Saturday or a Sunday.

Here is an itemized list of the various things that bother me (and by “bother” I mean “make me want to tear my hair out and sob with frustration”):

  1. No one seems to see what to me is an obvious pattern here: sore throat -> azithromycin -> boil -> inconclusive non-diagnoses. This boil situation has happened, on and off, since I was like 10 (though it’s been entirely “off” since I was 20, at least until the past six weeks). I don’t know how ANYONE, never mind a trained medical professional, never mind MULTIPLE trained medical professionals, could hear me say, “Both times in the past six weeks that I’ve taken azithromycin, this boil has appeared, when it hadn’t appeared once in the past six years,” and not think to themselves, “I wonder if there’s some sort of connection here?” There has to be. I don’t see any way that there could not be. Nothing in life is that coincidental.
  2. If this is, indeed, MRSA, why has no one tested me for MRSA? From the exhaustive Googling I’ve done, I’ve learned that one in three people are carriers of staphylococcus aureus, the SA of MRSA (the MR coming from methicillin resistant), and that one to two in 100 people are carriers of MRSA. It lives, innocuously for the most part, in your nose (who knew!), but since you’re carrying it around at all times, it could lead to infection. Finding out if you’re a carrier is a simple as sticking a q-tip up someone’s nose and sending that off to a lab to see what happens. I’ve now had three q-tips stuck down my throat and one stuck in an open wound over the course of six weeks, so I don’t understand, especially when MRSA has now come up twice from two different doctors as a possibility, no one has bothered to even try to culture that, and instead are all up in arms over the lack of culturable material coming (or rather, not coming) from the boil.
  3. If this is, indeed, MRSA, why is no one taking it more seriously? Has the media completely blown the threat of MRSA wildly out of proportion, and it is, in fact, not the death sentence the news would have you believe?
  4. If this is, indeed, MRSA, why did it come back after I took a full course of clindamycin, which is one of the antibiotics to which MRSA is supposedly not resistant? The dermatologist’s theory that it could be MRSA came from the fact that I’ve taken all of these antibiotics–which, presumably, should be killing bacteria–and still got this boil. That’s all well and good, but 1) it’s not like all antibiotics are supposed to kill MRSA in the first place (like, for example, azithromycin, which is not indicated for MRSA treatment) and 2) it’s not like I was taking an antibiotic to which MRSA has known resistance, i.e.: methicillin. I don’t understand the thought process that goes, “You took a drug that doesn’t kill MRSA twice and now have a boil, therefore, it’s probably MRSA.” Of course, this doesn’t include the clindamycin episode, but everything did seem to go away after clindamycin. It didn’t come back until I took azithromycin again.
  5. And finally, perhaps my biggest frustration of all: why am I even getting these sore throats in the first place? I’ve had plenty of sore throats in my life, but every time I’ve ever had one, they’ve also been accompanied by a host of other issues: coughing, congestion, a fever, achiness, general malaise: your usual upper respiratory cold/flu lineup. I’ve never, until about two months ago, had a sore throat but otherwise felt completely fine. Now this has happened twice in six weeks. I firmly believe that the boil situation is 100% related to the azithromycin (though how, exactly, I haven’t figured out, unless the azithromycin throws off the balance of my body’s natural bacterial flora, allowing normally overpowered bacteria to prosper and cause infection…like, perhaps, staph and/or MRSA living in my nose. But that’s a theory that’s not even backed up by Google research, never mind an actual medical opinion, so I fully understand that I could be totally off in my understanding of how natural bacteria flora work. Further research is needed.), thus making the real issue my recurrent, unexplained sore throats, with the boil/skin infection being a secondary issue that arises due to the antibiotics I’ve taken for the primary issue.

It’s just all really, really aggravating. I’m throwing hundreds of dollars at all sorts of doctors, constantly having to leave work to go to appointments, and I feel like I’m not getting any answers or solutions out of any of this.

Gold star to you if you made it through this 2,400 word, picture-free missive.

Is cotton wedding appropriate? Please say yes.
Why is healthcare SO HARD? That’s a rhetorical question, but feel free to answer if you can.

 

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