Our 37th anniversary in the woods, fifth day of rain, cold enough for sweat pants, sweat shirts, and, ouch, a winter rain-proof coat with a hood, thankfully grabbed at the last minute out the door after packing.
I look at the man I married and scowl, almost growl. He comes around the fire to hug me and wish Happy Anniversary, thinking my foul mood is about him not acknowledging our many years together.
Our new little camper has heat. I retreat into it. After happily feeding the fire for five days between raindrops, today I am not happy. I hurt. Kicking the heat on, I curl up and finally admit to symptoms of a third UTI in a matter of months, after never having one before.
On the way to our favorite Italian restaurant, we stopped at the small town’s only medical facility which is about to close, but I can see the doctor the next morning. After arriving and signing releases, I pee in a cup when the nurse is done taking my vitals. The young doctor enters and my first thought was cocky and inexperienced. I was wrong. I like him immediately, he is kind, competent and caring. I want to move into town to have this new doctor.
Finding one with all the right qualities has escaped me these last ten years. He explains things. Maybe a bit too much as my face registers alarm when he mentions seeing a urologist, then a camera going up an opening in my body I’ve never seen, and stents.
Noticing my shock, he quickly adds, “But maybe not. But one infection is troubling enough, three in such a short time is of concern.” And he prescribes Bactrim for five days.
I lay awake that night and with clarity, pin down an emotion- fear. A camera going up where?
Another doctor, another test, another anesthesiologist to tell, “Whatever you give others, double it, triple it, give more.”
I have finally learned to advocate for my needs, albeit the hard way; wide awake for a colonoscopy that others slept through and arduous due to his ineptitude, I was lucky enough to survive his rotor-routing and knew I’d be doing a better job doctor shopping next time. (if there ever was a next time)
My nervous system still reacts full throttle to scary stimuli or stress, full on, off the charts, all guns blazing as if life or death is at hand. I may act calm and quiet, but take my pulse. Zing!
The second time around, because there finally was one, I met with her first, not only because this time I would require it, but so did she. She saw all her patients first, as it should be. The other didn’t and the office staff made it seem unnecessary, like herding cattle through.
I also met with the anesthesiologist beforehand and would be given adequate sedation for my needs and he said taking Xanax prior to arriving was fine. That made all the difference, along with hospital staff who were attentive, caring and competent.
It’s a scary world out there in the medical field. It pays to shop around carefully just as if one were to buy a car, TV or other expensive item. It’s also very helpful if another person comes along to listen at appointments and help advocate. Terror ramps up when anyone does things to my body, or things happen to my body that I cannot control, pulsating terror. Though grateful for medical intervention, taming the terror takes a lot out of me each and every time.
Day 6- After my appointment with the best doctor I’ve ever met, we head down to the local pharmacy. Back at camp I take out a giant sized horse pill from the Bactrim bottle, but am relieved it doesn’t stick in my throat, choking me like the smaller round vitamin C tablets often do.
The day is warm, but I’m cold and weak-kneed, the sun finally came out, and I have swallowed my first weapon against this bacteria. I cuddle under layers of clothes and a wool blanket by the lake, hoping and waiting for relief from the chills, nausea and pain. The sun heats the wool, transferring its warmth into me like a heating pad, nature’s heating pad. I am content.
The water glitters as if someone threw a handful of diamonds on it. Puff clouds fill the sky. Others finally brave the rain free new day, and kayaks spot the shimmering lake in pairs. Our son and his family, camping in the adjacent site, paddle onto the beach. Amidst the sparkling water, we are entertained by the glee of a two and five year old as they swim, splash, and play with their father in the water. Their silhouettes make us smile as my husband and I exchange glances. All is well in this messy, mixed up thing called life. The pleasures, pain, joy and sorrows come and go. The best we can do is ride the waves.
(After reading ‘magical journey’ by Katrina Kenison, the second memoir read captured my attention just as much: ‘The Forest House’ by Joelle Fraser)