Does this count as “over 40” problems?

6 minute read

July 18, 2021, 11:27 PM

FYI, this Journal entry discusses gross body functions in personal places.  If you’re squeamish about such things, you might want to skip this one.  Otherwise, here we go…

This past Friday, I went in for some minor surgery to fix a small problem.  Back in April, I had developed what turned out to be an abscess on my backside.  I didn’t quite know what it was for a while, and was doing what they say that you shouldn’t do, and looked up my symptoms on Google.  It seems like every time you google your symptoms, it always comes back as a heart attack, and therefore, you need to get your tail to the emergency room right now.  But I knew better.  Even controlling for definitely-not-a-heart-attack, though, I still got inconclusive results, i.e. Dr. Google had no clue what it was.  All the while, this thing was uncomfortable.  At its peak, it was so painful that it was difficult to sit.  And considering that my job is performed from a seated position, that point really made for a long day.  At one point, I tried squeezing it, and pus came out of it.  That made me feel a little better for a little while, but it quickly filled back up and continued to hurt.  Eventually it started to drain on its own without any prompting from me.  That felt a little better because there was no more pressure, but it was still painful, and now it was draining all the time and making a mess in my underwear, even soaking through my pants on occasion, which is not a good thing by any means.  I don’t like having to choose my outfits based on thickness and color of material in order to prevent embarrassing abscess leaks from showing up.

I eventually went to an urgent care facility, and there, the doctor diagnosed it as a cutaneous abscess, and prescribed a course of antibiotics (Bactrim) for it.  According to the urgent care doctor, the abscess should take care of itself without any further intervention.  As it would turn out, the antibiotic took care of the infection in very short order, but the drain opening remained, and things kept on draining, albeit with less volume than before, which kept the leakage contained to my underwear and not going through my pants anymore.  I figured that some drainage was normal, considering that I had just had a big abscess that was being treated.  But then it kept on going, even after the infection had subsided, and after I finished up all of the antibiotics.  I kept holding out some hope for a while that it would resolve on its own, but it never did.

So, considering where it was, I ended up making an appointment with a colorectal specialist in Germantown.  I didn’t quite know what to expect going to a colorectal specialist, since my pilonidal cyst surgery back in 2005 was done by a general surgery practice and not a colorectal guy.  I was put somewhat at ease when I got to the office and saw that they had a sense of humor about their line of work.  The password for the wireless had “butts” in it, and there was a little sign on the front desk that said “Proctologists stand behind their work!”  Something tells me that they have heard the Colorectal Surgeon Song, and appreciate its humor, though I wasn’t going to bring it up myself (I suspect that I wouldn’t have been the first).

The exam went well enough.  The initial consultation was in an office with a desk, and then we moved to an exam room for the actual examination.  In this instance, they had me undress from the waist down and put a drape over my midsection.  The exam consisted of two checks.  In the first one, the doctor felt around using his gloved finger.  In the second, he checked my bottom out using a probe.  Those two things were both a very unpleasant feeling.  Nothing like having a finger and then a probe up there where the sun don’t shine.  In the end, once the doctor finished probing me, we had a diagnosis: it’s a fistula.  However, they couldn’t figure out whether it was a superficial fistula or a deeper fistula without sedating me, which requires a separate appointment and is done at a surgical facility.  Fan-bloody-tastic.  The doctor explained that fistulas are repaired surgically, and they could go one of two ways.  If the fistula was superficial, they would open it up and let it heal from the inside out and that would be it, in a similar manner to the way that my pilonidal cyst did in 2005.  However, if it was deeper, they would put a rubber band in it and allow it to heal around the rubber band, and then come back a few months later for a second, more complicated procedure to fix it.

The office staff got me scheduled for the sedation procedure after I was finished seeing the doctor, and gave me a list of homework related to the procedure, mainly getting bloodwork and a physical done with my regular doctor.  I also had to line up a ride for that day, since Elyse doesn’t drive, and the place doesn’t let you drive yourself home after a sedation procedure – and understandably so.  My friend Matthew ended up agreeing to come up to take us, and so that was that.  This would also be the first time that I had something like this at a surgical center rather than at a hospital.  So that would be a new experience.  I was comfortable with it (I trust that they all knew what they were doing), but not having it in a hospital made Elyse a little nervous.

On the day of the procedure, Matthew came up, and then we were off.  The surgery center was down in Rockville.  A complication of the whole thing was that due to measures ostensibly being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, I was the only person permitted in the facility.  Matthew and Elyse were not allowed in at all.  I let them both know about this ahead of time, and I strongly recommended that they find somewhere to entertain themselves while I was in the shop.  Elyse didn’t like it, but what can you do, I suppose.  She did send Woomy in with me, though.  I guess that she figured that I needed a chaperone, and Woomy, not being human and all, couldn’t get COVID.  Woomy didn’t like it, but it also wasn’t up to him (it wasn’t up to me, either).

Going in, you would never know that this was a surgical center in the basement of an office building, and not in a hospital.  They first had me change into the hospital gown and put on the little hospital socks.  I put Woomy in the bag with my clothes for safekeeping.  He didn’t like it, but it was for his own protection.  They also put some compression sleeves around my calves.  Then a nurse started an IV on me, and I got to speak with my surgeon and the anesthesiologist.  They also explained that they would bring me into the room, sedate me, do their thing, and then when I woke up, I would be back in the spot where they got me prepped.  Cool.  They wheeled me in on the stretcher where I’d been laying.  I remember seeing the big lights, and thought, here we go.  Then they had me turn onto my left side, and got the sedatives moving via my IV.  I felt a little fuzzy as the sedatives went in, and then it was lights out for me.

The next thing that I knew, I was back in the room where I started.  My hip was feeling a bit sore, probably from leaning on it for the duration of the procedure.  The nurse was with me in the room when I woke up, and she gave me some good news: the fistula was superficial, i.e. all they had to do was slice it open and let it heal.  I was delighted.  I reached over for my phone and messaged Elyse, and let her know what the result was, and that the office would be calling her shortly to let her know that I was ready.  I also learned that Elyse and Matthew went to Micro Center up the street while I was getting worked on.  Elyse’s goal was to drool over electronic stuff for potential future purchases.  Specifically, she was looking at mechanical keyboards, because Elyse is a bit of a keyboard snob.  She hates that I have a membrane keyboard rather than a mechanical keyboard, but, you know, it works for me, and I won’t give it up.

In any case, I got dressed, they gave me my discharge instructions along with some prescriptions, Matthew and Elyse came back over, and Elyse came down to get me.  We then went about getting lunch.  Matthew and Elyse wanted to get MrBeast burgers, while I wanted to get something else.  Since they were doing this all for me, I treated all around.  In Gaithersburg, MrBeast operates out of Buca di Beppo in the Kentlands, and there’s a Whole Foods nearby.  So we ordered the MrBeast, I got something at Whole Foods, and then we picked up the MrBeast stuff and went home to eat.  All in all, not a bad time.

One thing that always amazes people is that I don’t even bother filling the prescriptions for the “good” pain meds.  I was prescribed oxycodone, among other more pedestrian meds, and we left that alone.  I think that the last time I took a “good” pain medication was in 2005 after the pilonidal cyst.  That was oxycodone again at that time, and it didn’t make any difference.  When I broke my foot, they gave me serious pain meds, and I never filled it.  When I had my sleeve surgery, the hospital filled the prescription for me, but I never took any because I didn’t need to, and eventually threw them away.  So based on the level of discomfort I was having after this procedure (minimal), I felt fine skipping the pain meds.  I see no reason to mess with real painkillers if I don’t need to.

So there you go, I suppose.  After Matthew went back home, Elyse and I both went right to sleep.  Clearly, we needed it.  All in all, I’m just glad that this abscess saga is almost over, because I’m ready to put it behind me.

Categories: Matthew, Personal health, Woomy