This week I had a serious health scare, my lungs got infected with a virus and my breathing became more and more laboured and last Monday I coughed so hard I tore some rib cartilage. Each cough then became an exercise in torture like someone was jamming a screwdriver in the middle of my back with all the force they could muster, the evil fucker! It got so bad that my chick said to me we should make a trip to the hospital to get a professional opinion. Of course being a real man I said I wasn’t having any of that and she would have to drag me by the feet kicking and screaming to get me there. She fixed me with a look that told me if that’s the way it had to happen, it will. 15 minutes later we were in a taxi on route to the Onze Lieve Vrouw hospital in Amsterdam east.
After we were processed and I was in the wait queue I started wondering whether it was more than a simple flu or bronchitis. My mind never wandered to anything really bad, fear prevented me from really going too far down a tragic road. When my turn came up for the doctor I hobbled into her surgery feeling miserable but hopeful I’d get some medication that would soon sort it out. The doctor at first was cheerful beyond a usual happy bedside manner and initially was full of joking banter. I had a coughing fit then that nearly put me on the floor at which point she stopped laughing and a serious look came over her face. “I think there is something really wrong with you”, she said.
Now I was worried. She started probing around my ribs and said this doesn’t feel like a muscle tear, at which point she said, “tell me if this hurts”, and then proceeded to give me a solid palm thump to the lower back. I’m not sure what happened for the next few minutes because I was too busy screaming in pain with tears brimming in my eyes and my vision clouding over with stars.
“Okay, so I know you’re not faking it”, she announced. “You better lie down”.
I had to stretch out on the examination table situated at the back of the room least I collapsed completely. At this point she told me I’ll get a painkiller and she wanted a urine sample. Hmmm… I thought to myself, that can’t be good. The doc then gave me a shot in the top of my ass on my leg side that took the worst edge off the pain and allowed me to walk again. She also gave me a piss cup along with the instructions to fill it 1/3rd of the way. I did so and she swabbed a small amount with a small strip of cardboard like you use for testing perfume samples in airport duty free shops. It took a few minutes for her to check a colour chart but when she finished she told me I had traces of blood in my urine and I most likely have kidney stones.
Well, I freaked. Kidney stones… blood in my urine… my right side rib literally killing me… it was all too much. In a big panicked rush I told her how my father had prostate cancer and that’s how he found out. Clearly I wasn’t dealing with it well to look at me from the outside. She assured me that wasn’t the problem here, but it was going to be a painful next week for me as this thing passed. I got a prescription for three days of medication and was sent on my way.
At home I cried into my girlfriend’s shoulder as I buckled under the weight of knowing that my usually good health had cracked and now I was breaking down. Sure it was only kidney stones and not cancer (which makes everything else look like a blister by comparison), but still, my stressful lifestyle had caught up with me, and now I was going to pay a very painful bill.
To cut a long story short, more tests and more trips to my own doctor have ruled out kidney stones, but did uncover the torn rib cartilage problem. The whole experience has given me a more profound sense of what it is to have your health. We all know the saying, money can’t buy happiness, well I really believe now that it also can’t buy health either. That’s something you either look after like it’s precious to you, or you treat it with disdain and take it for granted. The danger being, it may not always be there for you if this is your outlook.
I feel for myself this has been a wake up call as before this week, while I did look after myself, it wasn’t nearly enough, and I’m old enough that I can’t afford to be blaise about it. How I treat myself now is going to have a direct effect on how I feel as I cross a few age barriers coming up very soon. So with a new leaf turned, I wonder if I’ve still got enough time to train for the Hawaii Ironman Triathalon?
The Health scare by Mentalechoes, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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