“How have you been doing?” the lady at Walgreen’s asked. She’s always there when I go, always checks me out, so even though I don’t remember her name, I know her as more than just a Walgreen’s employee. When she asked how I was doing, she did so with genuine interest.
And I gave her as close to a truthful answer as I could: “I’d complain, but there isn’t any money in it.”
In truth, I was scared and in quite a bit of pain. I had stopped by Walgreen’s before going to my doctor’s appointment because I was afraid I wouldn’t want to afterward, and I really needed the surgical pads and 4 X 4s and paper tape needed to dress the surprise that cropped up on me a couple of weeks ago. And I needed the Whoppers candy I bought on impulse. Really needed those Whoppers.
The doctor I was going to was my local surgeon, the one who has taken care of me for almost fifteen years–the one who’s scared to work on me now and who sent me to Tyler for my current medical care. I wanted to ask him about the surprise, a second opinion of sorts, but I was terrified. I’d had nightmares the night before of probes and silver-nitrate sticks. Ever have an injury, perhaps a puncture wound, treated with silver nitrate? Don’t.
The people in Tyler are doing a great job, I don’t doubt that. But for every ounce of good news that comes my way, I get a pound of bad. The surprise abscess that I thought was going away got worse, and my ankles are even more swollen than before. After having them x-rayed, I called for the report. Guess what they said? My ankles are swollen. Really. Yes, they said it in medicalese, but that’s what it boils down to. At least they aren’t fractured. And I called for the results of the blood test and found out that the swelling is not related to my kidneys either. They’re fine, thank God.
Dr. C doesn’t know what’s causing them to swell, but his best guess is that it has to do with the Crohn’s and the rest of this mess that’s going on with me. They were so painful yesterday that I wore sandals instead of shoes, which was fine–it was close to 90 degrees outside. But we have a cold front moving in that’s going to make my weekly trip to Tyler a bit chilly, so I’m still debating what to do about that.
I showed Dr. C my surprise, and he confirmed the conclusion I’d reached over the weekend. It isn’t an abscess at all, but an enterocutaneous fistula. I don’t want to have to explain what that is (if you’re curious, go “here” for the best explanation I’ve found; be sure to find the definition of enterocutaneous fistula). Suffice it to say, it’s not pleasant, but it’ll go away in a couple of months. Fortunately, he was able to determine this without a probe, and silver nitrate isn’t an appropriate treatment, so at least my nightmare didn’t come true.
777 Peppermint Place is turning into the journal of my illness, of my battle against Crohn’s Disease. I try not to focus on this entirely, but it’s hard not to. And it’s so hard to remain optimistic when all my good news is shot down so quickly after receiving it. Still, I know God is with me and carrying me through this; otherwise, I’d never be able to crack a joke about it, never have a “good” day, never be able to focus on anything else. Truth be told, there are people going through things far worse than this with a less promising prognosis. Eventually, I’ll be fine again. Some folks won’t be.