I have married friends named Mark and Esther. I have only known them for a couple of years (we met at a wedding…my friend also happens to be Esther’s brother), but their influence on my life has been huge. Seriously huge. I love third wheeling with this couple. They make me laugh very hard, and they always have a ridiculous anecdote to relate to any situation. I have a lot of fun with these two, but they also take very good care of me. When I was going through a rough time a couple of months ago, Esther was the person I called when I was upset. They had me over for dinner, they baked me gluten free bread (Mark doesn’t eat gluten either!), they made me stew, and they took me out for tea and Scrabble. One Sunday morning, Esther was sick but Mark showed up at church anyway, just so I wouldn’t have to sit alone on a difficult day. They were there in the most practical ways, and I am so very grateful for them.
So it was definitely odd when they didn’t come see my play a couple of weekends ago. The only explanation was “bad timing” which was rather vague, especially coming from them. But then I heard that Mark had been in the hospital. And then I heard WHY Mark had been in the hospital. Let me tell you, it aaaaall makes sense now. Mark decided to share this story with all of you lucky blog readers.
Let’s face it – people don’t like talking about their butts. I think it’s probably the third least-popular discussion topic for polite company – right after sex and religion. That said, I’ve recently had an experience that while embarrassing and uncomfortable, I feel compelled to share.
A couple weeks ago I awoke to a pain emanating from my behind- yup, I had a pain in my butt. It felt like a bruise, deep within my right butt-cheek. It was a gentle but unwelcome visitor – just noticeable enough to remind you that its there – sort of like a stranger who insists on talking to you on the bus.
And like a random-bus-talker, I had hoped that if I just ignored it, it would eventually just leave. After all, there was really nothing to worry about – we had company, I was busy at work, and this was just a minor annoyance.
And so I ignored my butt for a couple of days.
The pain wasn’t going away, but it was nothing that a couple of Tylenol couldn’t fix. I began to think of all the activities that I’d taken part in over the previous week that could possibly be causing it- had I sat on an IKEA furniture connector? Did I pull a muscle when raking yard waste? Was I having problems digesting a gluten-free dark-matter bagel? Hmm. Nope, none of those seemed plausible.
Another day passed, and that’s when I knew there was a problem.
Look. I’m a 20-something male. Speaking in terms of demographics, we’re probably the least likely group to seek medical attention. Broken leg? Walk it off. Giant bleeding wound? Here’s some Polysporin and a band-aid. Swine flu? Drink some Buckley’s.
Anyway, my misbehaving cheek was now swollen– I was having a hard time sitting properly, I was sweating at night, and was having a hard time sleeping. So when I say that I was in enough pain to warrant a trip to the Doctor’s office, you’d better believe I was in a lot of pain.
I went to a walk-in clinic and was seen by a doctor who hurriedly inspected my posterior and within moments deduced that the source of my “malaise derriere” was nothing more than a hemorrhoid. Great! Problem solved. End of story. Happily ever after. Let’s eat some prunes and celebrate.
Not so fast, buster brown.
I tried my ‘roid treatment regime for a few days, but nothing was happening. Sleep was getting more difficult, the pain worse by the hour. I was alternating between super-high fever and uncontrollable chills. The bump on my bump was getting larger – and starting to harden, and I was getting more concerned.
I booked an appointment with my family doctor, and was re-diagnosed as having a soft tissue infection – was prescribed antibiotics and cortisone cream, and sent merrily along my way. Awesome. Super. Let’s fix this noise and get on with life.
The next morning I woke up and my cheek was no longer just swollen and hard, but starting to turn red. It felt like I was having a reaction to the cortisone cream, or maybe just a sign that the antibiotics were starting to work. I don’t know – I’ve never had a soft tissue infection before.
When I got into the office, I promptly asked my boss for a couple of days off, citing my recent health troubles and mis-diagnosis. The hope was that I’d have an extra-long weekend to let the drugs do their thing, and I’d be right as rain for the new week. It was a great plan. I went home and collapsed on the couch for a few hours – and for the first time in days I was able to find a comfortable position, and catch up on a bit of sleep.
It was then, when I woke up, that I finally realized just how bad things were.
Taking a look at my sore heiny in the mirror, I noticed a giant blister had developed over the epicenter of the pain and swelling. Now it’s one thing to feel pain, not see anything, and just ignore it – but once the pain becomes tangible, there is no choice but to react. I rushed downstairs and told my wife that we needed to go to the hospital right now.
Twenty minutes later I am evaluated by a triage nurse. I have an unyielding heart rate of 145. I have a fever of 38.8. I am sweating profusely. I am in the worst pain of my life.
They admitted me immediately to minor emergency, where I was seen fairly quickly. The nurse practitioner takes one look at me and re-re-diagnoses me with (and I quote) “a giant frickin’ abscess”. Over the course of the next hour people are talking around me about booking an OR, surgery, and whether or not they can “get it all”.
I was worried, and rightly so. My comedy of misdiagnosis had lead to a point where my annoying little pain-in-the-butt had become something that would certainly have been fatal if left untreated.
Eventually, the medical team decides that they can deal with my problem quickly. The solution? Lance a hole in my butt to drain the swelling and infection out of the abscess, and put me on heavy antibiotics to handle the rest. The team assembles around my ER room bed and runs through the procedure, reassuring me that they are prepared to support my breathing in case I decide to stop for any reason.
The anesthetic fills my IV, and I slowly go blank. Fifteen minutes later I awoke in the same place, but in a lot less pain. The nurse tells me that while I was under the influence of the anesthetic, I was talking about skateboarding in the projects, and how mad people were going to be at me. Obviously there are deep thoughts at play in my subconscious.
[Guest-blogger’s note: At this point, I must warn you that if you are at all queasy, you should avoid reading the next sentence.] On a more disgusting note, the nurse informs me that they’ve managed to tap an impressive yield from my wound – Over a full cup of vile, disgusting fluid.
As I’m lying in my hospital bed waiting for the IV antibiotics to drain, I’m left with more questions than answers. Sure, I no longer have a butt-cheek on my butt-cheek, but now I’m left with a superfluous second hole in my rear. How long am I going to be off of work? How long will it take for my newly-minted hole to heal? How can that hole heal if it’s so close to the “other” hole?! How am I going to shower?! How am I going to go “numero dos”?!
Fast forward to today.
It’s now been a week since my emergency surgery and I’m slowly starting to get answers to my questions. Some of you may be wondering what it’s like to have a second hole in your butt. You may be disappointed to find out that it really doesn’t feel like anything – maybe I’ve just got a case of numb-bum, but there’s not a lot of pain or weird sensation in this peculiar new orifice. You might also be wondering if I’ve given my pain-in-the-butt a name – sadly I’ve yet to find something appropriate.
How long will my new friend be a part of me? From what the nurses say, it’s going to be with me for several weeks to come.
How does it heal? This is a gross one. Essentially, it has to heal bottoms-up – that means that the wound remains held open by packing, which must be done daily to make sure it heals properly. There’s also a high risk of re-infection, so I have to be extra careful.
Work? No idea. I still can’t sit and I can barely walk, and apparently those are pretty big requirement for a desk job… working on the couch doesn’t go over well with the health-and-safety crowd as I’ve found out.
Numero dos? Bathing? Let’s say there are procedures, and leave it at that.
It sounds weird – but I’ve learned a lot from my second butt-hole. I’ve learned that sometimes you’ve just got to prioritize your own health and well being over your obligations to work, friends, and family. It’s selfish, but necessary – sometimes you need to take more than you give, and that has to be okay.
I’ve also learned that taking your health into your own hands is sometimes the only way to get the care you really need. While I’m frustrated with the failings of the system, we eventually got to the bottom of my bottom-problem. From now on, I’ll know to speak up and speak up quickly.
Finally, I have learned that I would be in deep trouble if not for my unfailing wife who has stepped up to not only take care of me with dignity, but also take care of my regular duties that I’m currently incapable of fulfilling. I owe her big time.
And so that’s the story of how I came to to have a second hole in my butt. It’s been a strange experience by all accounts (one I’d never wish on anyone), but it’s about as real as it gets.
Have you ever had a second hole in your butt? What about a spouse who is awesome?
If you don’t have either of these, feel free to rewrite wedding vows to include butts.
I’ll start: “In sickness and in butts…”