It’s always been virtually perfect, my health, my physical health. Colds once every five years or so, flu back in the early 80s -- nothing else comes to mind. It’s a lifestyle thing, not an amazing constitution. Feed the immune system and it will do its job. No guarantees, just prudence. Floods come, and wipe away whole towns. Not every flood, however, need do that.
I’ve had a hard few months though. Something exceptional is wrong. I don’t fret, in fact I can be positively bovine in my placidity, but something is wrong. Pain so sharp that my leg gives out under me. Takes a while to stand, sometimes. A pronounced limp. Comes and goes, but staying more and more. So in January I started going to a specialist chiropractor. Good news is that the midback thing appears to be gone. I can feel a tightness, and it makes odd pops and it wants stretching, but the real issue is not recurring, and that’s nice. The right hip is pretty bad, and a few weeks ago there was another new pain in the thigh of the other leg, which is creeping up into the hip tendon. Sup the hell with that?
It was so bad Friday, both, that I could hardly walk. Then I recalled that the day before the chiropractor had given me some real pain, pushing with his thumb into muscles and tendons, so Friday was a reaction to that -- like a hard workout. Saturday the thigh was better. Complicated? Point is I think it did some good.
Meantime, although I am not a hypochondriac, I had to think I actually had a disease. I mean, not only not healing, but spreading and getting worse. Sounds like a disease. Went onto WebMD, but that wasn’t at all helpful. I’m not the most responsible person -- irresponsibly neglectful, in fact -- but I went to an MD, and finally, this week, got a whole bunch of tests done.
They took A LOT of blood. It’s been a few decades since I gave blood, and, well, I wasn’t faint, but I was sweating so much that the lab tech, a Filipino woman of course, had to laugh merrily. I was funny, in my discomfiture. I don’t care much for blood, or needles, and taken together I get pretty queasy. One of the reasons I’m vegetarian. She had a very very very hard time getting through my vein. It was easy to see, easy to find, but she couldn’t get the needle in. I could feel her jabbing and pushing and tugging. Ironic. A little like being raped. Then all that draining. Well, finally done.
Tested for the more common communicable diseases. Mostly, sadly, STDs. Well, I know, virtually certain, that I don’t have Hep C. But got tested for it. And the last time I had unprotected sex was with my former wife. That’s also the last time I had sex. Understand, I say for clarity’s sake, there is a clintonian precision in my choice of words -- sex is vaginal intercourse -- sexual behavior contrariwise includes a vast panoply of activities. I reserve the right to remain enigmatic as to sexual conduct. I had to ask what some of the tests were -- weird codes or medical jargon. HIV, I don’t know what all. Not only STDs, as I say. Communicables.
Truth be told, I’ve been preparing to hear that I have AIDS. I woke up not long ago with a rash. Ah, a weakened immune system. And sometimes at night if I breathe deeply I cough. And malaise, unrefreshing sleep, heaviness. Something is wrong. I’d thought the rash was an allergic reaction to some pretty intensive exposure to rubber cement a day or two prior, but eventually I figured out it was related to, uh, athletes foot. A fungus. I had a fungus. Me. Made me feel a little like a syphilitic whore. Point is, my immune system let me down -- didn’t fight it off.
Over $800 worth of tests. I knew perfectly well that I don’t have Hep C. Very expensive test. Ouch. But what am I going to do? Shop around? Operate on hope? Something is wrong.
So I got a voice mail a few days ago. Knew intuitively that it was the doctor’s office with the results. My understanding from afterschool specials is that they always call you into the office to discuss the results in person. I put off listening to the message until just now. I was wrong. They just came out with it. All tests positive. So that's good. Positive is good, right? Just kidding. Negative. Negative is the good one.
Not a surprise, not much of a relief. I can prepare for something that I don’t expect to happen. Where would I get HIV? But where would I get any communicable disease. Bumping heads? Stuck with a stray needle? Spittle flying through the air and landing in my eyeball? But I had to rule it out.
So the hip thing is something else. What disease. Something myalgia. But myalgia is just muscle soreness, and that’s a symptom, not a disease. Given the clear pinched-nerve pain, and an occasional and previously disregarded numbness in two toes of my right foot, I’d have to say it’s a disc impingement.
So I’ll give the chiropractor one more session, maybe more. Meantime I’ll use the inversion table, and stretch, and I think I’ll have to hold off on any vigorous athleticism -- let any presumed inflammation subside.
This blows. I haven’t spent this much money in my whole life, for sure, on medical specifics. Of course, last time I went to a doctor was in the mid-90s. Makes me very very uncomfortable, blood and needle uncomfortable, spending so much. It’s obamalike. Except it’s my money.
It has prepared me though to be more understanding toward people with real health problems. My body has never failed me before. It’s like being born rich, or with a sane family -- hard to relate to the less fortunate. If it doesn’t get better, I’m crippled. But I’ve looked into how to cure the AIDS I don’t have, so I have a plan on how to fix a disc. I’ve done it before, in fact. We shall see.