From The Guide, With Love – To The Doctor’s And Back Again

It’s been a crazy few weeks I can tell you that.  I have been pulled up, down, left, right and every which way just trying to find that little touch of normal.  I’m not even sure I can tell you what is going on half the time.  And it’s eaten into my blogging and everything else.  I don’t know whether it’s turned me into a zombie, or just brought out zombie-like characteristics.  But it certainly has made it harder for me to concentrate on my work.  But I feel like I have started you all on the middle of my craziness.  And I need to go back some.  Back to the Monday before Friday the 13th.  Back to when things made sense.

Going Down, Down, Down The Rabbit Hole Alice

I was working like I would any other Monday.  Although this Monday came into my life with some frustration.  I work in the teen services area of the library and I run the Teen Summer Reading program for the kids.  I had given the kids the previous week off because it ran in the middle of the Fourth of July.  It’s never a good week for programmings, and I have avoided doing anything near it nearly every year.  So I was hoping to see a couple people walk in the door for the Teen Advisory Board meeting, but no one came.  So it meant the program the next day would be on my own.  It wasn’t a difficult program to run, or so I thought.  So I didn’t worry.

Little did I know my foolishness as I was getting ready to close up shop at the library.  For one brief twinge with about 15 minutes left to go, I assumed everything would get better.  Maybe I twisted my ankle, but I didn’t remember doing it.  I just knew my ankle felt weird.  It has a strange sensation as I went home that evening.  I didn’t know why it hurt but it did.  I got home and put my feet up on a recliner, hoping the swelling would go away.  I thought about icing it but I figured I would sleep it off and it would be fine the next morning.

A Sudden Twist Of Fate

Usually, I go home and do some writing on my blog but it threw me off.  Instead, I just passed out that night and woke up the next morning.  And I thought everything might be fine until my feet came in contact with the floor.  One sharp pain in my ankle felt like everything was going to buckle.  And my ankle had swelled up from the night before.  For one hot second, I thought about calling out until I remembered I had an event at work.  Then I wondered how I was going to get my feet into my shoes.

I tried to make my way to the shower as quickly as possible, get into the shower and then off to work.  I did wrap an ace bandage around it to help it hold up.  How I made it to work that day with the pain in my right ankle I will never know.  The minute my boss saw me she went home to get an ankle brace and a shoe for me to wear so I could deal.  In addition, she brought a pair of crutches to make the whole experience easier on me.

The Road Not Taken . . .

At the beginning of the day, I did not have to do much walking.  In fact, I rarely did anything but sit in a chair and try to be available if anyone needed anything.  Thankfully no one seemed to.  So then I went to lunch and followed that up with a quick trip to get something to drink before coming back to the library to set up the room.  While running the program wouldn’t take much effort, I had forgotten about how much work it would be to set up the room with tables, chairs, and the video projector.  Ugh!

To this day I do not know how I was able to move things around, but I did.  And then they sent in some people to help after I had already set up the room.  I was just there to run the video and assist if I could do any assisting.  Of course, this only made things worse.  And by the time I was ready to go home at just shy of 6 o’clock, I could feel my ankle throbbing. Tonight I was going to go home and ice it down. And I did just that.

 

. . . And It Made All The Difference

I went home, got a bag of ice and put it on my ankle which I elevated to reduce swelling.  I didn’t know how I twisted my ankle but I wasn’t going to let it get me down.  While some temporary comfort seemed to be produced, I was surprised it didn’t seem to have the same effect as when I put ice on my back when I had back spasms.  Usually, 24 hours and it was done.  And there was immediate relief.  Here I knew it would take more than 24 hours and I feared the relief was temporary.

When I talked to my parents about what was going on later that evening, my dad suggested it might be gout.  I laughed it off.  Gout was another one of those old persons’ diseases.  Never mind the fact I was rapidly approaching my 45th birthday.  I couldn’t have gout.

I’ve Got 99 Problems But Gout Ain’t One

But I went to do some research on gout that evening.  And the more I researched, the more it made sense.  All except that it usually starts out in the big toe.  It was the only hangup in the theory.  It made me question it all until the next morning when I could start to feel an irritation in that big toe.  It wasn’t painful, mind you.  Although I was cognizant that people with gout had the arthritic type pain spread.  I didn’t know it was doing it for sure.

What I did learn from my research was cherries were a huge thing in keeping the gout symptoms down and from possible relapse.  So I started popping cherries morning noon and night.  Cherries were my drug of choice.  If I thought there was something addictive about cherries, I might have had to stop then an there for fear of becoming a cherry addict.   Leaving all cherries aside, I knew the next day would be interesting.

 

You Gotta Be Cruel To Be Kind

Trying to be kind, my co-worker felt like putting me at the Circulation desk would limit my moving around.  I’m not sure she fully thought through all the movement I would have to make, mostly checking in and checking out books as well as accepting money for fines.  Circulation has so many different things you do in the mornings, by the time the clock struck 12 I was beat.  Thankfully I didn’t have an event to do that day.  But we were so short staffed, the thought of leaving was nonexistent. I had to make it through.

And as the 5 o’clock hour rolled around again, all I could think about was lying down in my bed.  I unwrapped my foot and took a look at the toe which had been stinging more throughout the day.  By now it was so bad it had swollen up to almost 1 and a half times its size.  Gout seemed to be more than just an interesting theory at this point.  But I knew I needed a doctor to see me.  I knew I couldn’t wait another day and I needed to take time off work to do that.  All the while, very little was getting done on my blog.  And when my toe was nearly golf ball-sized the next morning, I was certain my time had come to go to the doctor.

Being David Elliott’s Toe

Now no work wants you to leave them in the lurch.  And it becomes even more stressful when everyone is short staffed.  But when they act like they cannot get things done without you and that it’s better for you to come in with a golf ball sized toe and suck up the pain possibly causing further risk of injury, something is wrong.  And that happened to me this very Thursday the 12th.  I was so upset I was mumbling to myself as I hopped in the shower and started getting dressed.  If I hadn’t checked my phone I would have driven to work with a foot I didn’t know whether I could control properly.  It would not have been good.

Thankfully, we didn’t reach this place and I saw a text message from a co-worker assuming I probably wouldn’t come in.  She came in early to help do the things they expected me to do.  And I was allowed to go to the doctor without stressing about coming in to work.  Of course, by then the stress already had occurred.  And while I was grateful, it didn’t brighten the day the way it should have.  Besides, I was still moving around on crutches with my golf ball sized toe.

When Urgent Is Just A Metaphor

My mother helped me out, driving me to and from the doctors.  I went to the Urgent Care specialist as I knew I wasn’t going to get to see my doctor today.  Thankfully I got in quickly, which is a rarity.  I didn’t even have to wait too long in the room before the doctor entered.  What transpired did not give me hope for the medical profession.

Honestly, it’s not his fault.  He’s just an urgent care doctor.  In fact, he could have been a nurse practitioner for all I know.  I realize urgent care centers frequently use them to see patients when they are out of doctors.  I have no clue.  Basically, I was told I could not be told anything.  Yes, he would give me pain medication.  And that I had a pain which could be considered some arthritic condition.  But nothing more.  I would have to see my primary care physician for that.  I went to an urgent care facility and it didn’t appear to be very urgent.  I suppose it could be considered “care”, although if pain medication is the answer to everything, I wonder why we’re having a prescription medicine epidemic.  Oh, wait . . .

Pain Pill Madness!

I did get the medication, get ahold of my primary care physician, which there is a whole other fun story behind that little bit, and passed out.  I don’t know how long I was out for.  I don’t think I could have been out for too long or given the temperature outside and the heat inside I would have been lying in a pool of my own sweat.  (I know.  Gross!  Ewww!  Moving on.)

I cannot say everything went away right at once.  By the evening I felt like the pain went down enough to where I could walk.  And by the next morning, my toe didn’t look like someone needed to put a tee underneath it.  And, which was my happiest improvement, I could stand up without feeling like someone took a hammer to my foot.  Things were on the mend.

The weekend went by mostly without incident.  Although I didn’t feel like doing much given how hot it was, and how my foot still didn’t feel right.  So even though I had the weekend off with my daughter, we kept things low key aside from a trip out to see some friends. And just as the swelling in my toe seemed to go away, and things seemed to be on the mend, Monday struck.

Anyone For A Case Of The Mondays?

I am not sure I believe in having “a case of the Mondays”, aside from just not feeling like I wanted to do what I was supposed to do.  It can happen a lot. And it has nothing to do with the day of the week.   But this Monday tried to prove me wrong.  First came trying to get my daughter up in the morning.  I felt like as long as I got out the door by 7:00 I should be fine.  But my daughter seemed a bit sluggish that morning.  And I cannot say I was doing super hot either.  We did, however, roll out the door just shy of 7:00.

What happened after that was a blur.  A slow moving, never-ending, the stuff of nightmares, blur.  What I do remember was trying to get onto the freeway with a lefthand turn into the ramp onto the freeway.  What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t even going to be able to make it onto the ramp, worrying about whether someone would bust into the intersection and take the tail of my car off.  As much as I love my Prius, on some days it feels like it can be taken out by a stiff wind.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

If I had been listening to traffic that morning, I could have missed the accident and problem easily.  The next freeway entrance would have moved me past it all.  Instead, what should have taken me 5 minutes on a bad day took me 40.  By the time we got past it, I felt like I need to race, but I knew I wanted to make it to the doctors in one piece.

So when I arrived at the doctor’s at 8:57, 3 minutes before I was expected, I was in a state of shock.  It’s possible I built a flux capacitor in my sleep, but I never knew I was that good.  And I don’t recall speeding either.  I got right in, and my appointment came up quickly.  I was seated quickly and seen quickly.

When They Say Medicine Is A Practice They Mean It

What did I get told?  I got told that its possible I had gout.  While I had said none of this to the doctor, it seemed an obvious and foregone conclusion at this point.  I felt like laughing hysterically, only I didn’t want to have someone putting me in a straight jacket just yet.  Besides.  I don’t look good in white, bouncing around a rubber room.  I don’t think anyone pulls off that look.

So next came doctor fun number two.  Prescribe medication for an illness they don’t know whether you have.  I suppose being given a medication for an illness they suspect you have wouldn’t be a bad thing, except for the fact that it could kill you.  Try listening to the possible side effect of any drug nowadays.  You will lose your mind.

And They Are Practicing On You

It usually goes something like this: “Try ‘what the hell’.  What the hell can cure you of those sleepless, restless nights.  You don’t want to be tossing and turning before bed.  So make sure you mention “what the hell” to your doctors the next time you are there.  ‘What the hell’ has been known to cause dry mouth, sudden constipation, diarrhea, fits of laughter, tears, depression, suicidal thoughts, rectal seepage (even I don’t want to know what that is.), nausea, vomiting, tiredness, fatigue, and in some rare occurrences, death.  ‘What the hell’ . . . use only as directed.”

At that point you stare at the screen yelling, “How rare is rare dammit!!!”

So when your doctor prescribes you a pill for something you might have, unless it’s a placebo, just say no.  Or heck no.  Or no way.  Or “hell no” if you feel like adding a bit of colorful metaphor to your vocabulary.  The doctor told me she would prescribe the pill but that didn’t mean I would take it until the test results came in.

Can I Ace This Exam?

Oh!  Wait. I forgot to tell you about the test.  After telling me what I might have, and saying what she would prescribe, she told me I would need a blood test and asked if I had fasted that morning.

Now I wasn’t told that I needed to fast before that day.  So if I had fasted, it wasn’t intentional.  My morning had been a blur and so I couldn’t tell her whether or not I had eaten.  I barely remembered the trip over to the doctors.  Now she expected me to remember whether or not I had eaten that morning?!?!  I know I hadn’t picked up any food on the way to dropping off my daughter, which I intended before the traffic of doom.  But had I snuck a glass of milk, a slice of cheese, slivers of almonds, or any other random morsel of food before I got there?  I couldn’t remember for the life of me.  And the tests counted on me having fasted.

Misty Water-Colored Memories . . .

But did I say it’s possible?  Or maybe?  Or even yes, so they would ask me to do it later?  No.  I could have said I don’t remember.  Instead, I sad no.  And because I said no, they jammed me with a needle and drew blood out of me. I just sat there dumbfounded before the world as my body poured forth its life-giving essence.  In went the needle and out came the blood.  It seemed to be running slow that day.  Or was it just my own hysteria making me think the blood dripped instead of gushed into the vial?  For whatever reason, all I had was the ability to wait for the results.

I suppose I should have been thankful as they suggested spending the next four nights at the doctor’s office waiting for the result might make me seem unhinged.  Thankfully, I was told the results may come in 4 days, and staying wasn’t an option.  Besides . . . I hadn’t even brought a tent with me.  Or pillows for that matter.

Suffice it to say, they came back with the test results 2 days later.  Despite this rapid rate of success on getting my blood tested, I didn’t find out till two days beyond the first two days.  Because after all of this, my doctor and I thought a game of phone tag would be fun.  The first time she barely left me a message.  After multiple calls without a response, she decided at least to not leave me in dread of my impending doom.  The next message implied she did not think my world would end before getting another phone call.

Sorry, Wrong Number.

But she needed to talk to me.  This did not sound good.  Finally, Friday rolled around and I was able to speak with my doctor.  What did I have?  Was it Gout?  Some strange illness I picked up from a patron at the library?  An exotic illness only found in the wilds of La Mirada?  Nope.  She was going to give me the easy news first.

But before she asked me whether or not I was sure I hadn’t eaten.  I said I am pretty sure. Silence.  Ok, I was almost positive.  She said ok.  Good.  (What did that mean?)

“Mr. Elliott, I need to inform you that you have high cholesterol.  (something different) You also are pre-diabetic, if not fully diabetic.  (ugh! Could my cherry eating mania have affected the numbers?)  Oh.  And by the way.  We think you may have gout.”

Practice Finally Makes Perfect.  Or Something Like That.

Wait.  What?  Didn’t you just run a test?  Shouldn’t it have said something?  How could she have not known?  And why was high cholesterol and diabetes the easy news?  Something felt off.  Then again.  After golf ball toe, I figured doing something a bit different might help.

My doctor suggested adding two more medications to the list would work.  I thought about it for a few seconds and felt like waiting on becoming a pill-popping patron, I might want to try something like losing weight and retesting first.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of anyone who starts down the road of diabetes pills and ever gets off of them.  It only seems to get more involved.  And before long you are there sticking your finger all day long and injecting needles with insulin inside you.  Giving health a try for a few months and seeing how I improved sounded like a better option.

Where This Leaves Me Now

And so here I am, the aforementioned David “the toe” Elliott, needing to give health a chance.  Who would have thought health would be a good thing?  Oh, wait.  I did write those fitness posts or something.  Obviously, I need to diet.  And do that exercise thing.

But given borderline diabetes AND possible gout, the list of good foods for me becomes tricky.  Popping cherries might be good for gout, but bad for diabetes.  Light dairy might be good for gout but bad for weight loss.  And eggs might be good for gout and diabetes but for cholesterol, it might be a problem.  It’s going to be interesting from here on out I must say.

Every Big Journey Begins With One Step

What I will be doing from now on is taking you on my new exploratory journey into weight loss and diabetes and gout prevention.  Hopefully, it won’t involve popping a lot of pills, but I will take each week one step at a time.  And I will assess how I am doing.  I will go over weight loss and exercise each week and let you know where I fall.  August has been a good month to start diets and exercise regimens for me in the past.  Here is hoping to another solid August start.

Where will happen next, I cannot be sure.  But I hope you are willing to take the journey with me, and that it can help and inspire you a bit on your own journeys to health.  Thanks for the patience with me, and hopefully I can get back to my regular blogging schedule after going through this melodrama.  I look forward to the consistency.

And feel free to give me advice and information about the things which have helped you out on your journey to health.  At this point, I’m pretty open to trying anything . . . so long as it doesn’t involve lima beans or cantaloupe.


Continue The Conversation

So what did you think about the craziness of this past week?  How have health things rocked your world in the past?  And how did it affect things you were trying to do at the same time?  If there were one health tip for me this week, what would it be?

Like / Share / Follow

If you liked this post, please like this post at the end.  And definitely, share it with your friends.  Also, don’t forget to follow us here at the Guide to get the latest emails about upcoming posts and fun things going on here.  Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for being patient with me during this time.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

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