20 August 2008

On Curses and Blessings

WARNING: The following post contains graphic and highly personal and slightly humorous references to my personal anatomy and its rapid descent toward cadaverhood. If you are squeamish, easily disgusted, a prospective employer, newish girlfriend or female relative please stop reading now.

Horrors. I have had a recurrence of the medical condition that caused me to spend my last night in the USA in the emergency room. For those of you who don't know, I suffer from chronic epididimitis that causes my left testicle to periodically swell up about double and hurt like the devil. When I realized that it had come back I was terrified. Not so much of the condition, which is awful, as of the cure, which is far worse. My last visit to the hospital had been an exercise in medical torture and the prospect of placing my sore self literally in the hands of Eastern medicine was too horrible to envision.

But when I realized Wednesday afternoon that it was the real thing and not the world's worse case of blue balls (which it absolutely could have been for reasons I am not about to explain) I told the bosses at work that I was going to the hospital the following morning. This worked out well because we had a field trip planned and I wouldn't miss any classes if things went smoothly at the hospital. For an interpreter I recruited Minha, who generously offered to accompany me even though she gets off in the early morning and usually sleeps till mid-afternoon.

I didn't sleep much worrying about this and I called Minha to wake her up at 8:30 AM (she is a saint) and washed it off and hopped a bus down to the subway. I met Minha there and we made a transfer, got off and hoofed it to the hospital. Once there we registered and were sent directly to the urology department. I waited for about ten minutes and a nurse came out and got us and took me in and introduced me to, I am not kidding, an actual Urologist. He was very kind and, if not gentle, thorough. AND he didn't give me a urethral swab or a sonogram (these the two horsemen of the urological apocalypse: the first hurts like a red hot poker and the latter feels like making lemonade except without any lemons). Just a cursory exam and a few questions. Any sexual intercourse since the last episode? No. Any discharge? No. Any strenuous physical exercise? Well, I climbed a mountain. Bingo, he said, this was the culprit. (He spoke pretty good English, which was nice. I added the Bingo.) He then took out a huge piece of paper on which he had drawn the interstate highway system that was the circulatory system of my nethers. He showed me how the blood from the testicles has to travel a long way, all the way up to the kidneys, before it reenters the larger vessels of the blood stream proper. The lucky blood from the right testicle then takes a conveniently located on ramp straight onto the expressway, but the blood from the left nut has to take a detour through a construction zone at the intersection of the kidney and the adrenal gland and therein lies the problem. Strenuous exercise causes a traffic jam and the blood is backed up all the way down to the old billiard.

I had brought with me a copy of the prescription I had gotten from the visit in Springfield and when he saw it he scoffed. Doxycycline? Caveman antibiotics. He then drew another picture which I took to represent the holy hierarchy of antibiotics, with the aforementioned far far back either the power chart or the timeline or both. Anyway, what he gave me is way better. Cefa-somethingorother. After much handshaking and thank youing we were shown out and at the desk I was asked to pay for the visit. 7200 won (about $7!). We were given a prescription and went to the pharmacy next door (the hospital didn't have a pharmacy but it did have a funeral parlor, which seems to me a conflict of interest). I was given an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and a capsule that I now think mitigates pain. It took the pharmacy less that three minutes to process and dispense my prescription, which came three pills to a little clear plastic packet: three pills twice a day after meals for two weeks. Total: 12600 won ($12.50!!). Twenty bucks total. I think I was charged in the neighborhood of $1500 for the last visit to the hospital (Editor's note: My mom, reading my mail back home, said it is up to $3000 now- somebody read an x-ray). I took the pills about two hours ago and I feel better already.

Have I told you before that I love this place?