So now that I have finished writing about Fiji, finally, I can write about my health. Because you care. Because if you weren’t reading this site, you’d be reading something else, and that something else would probably not be talking about vaginas, and who doesn’t like to read about vaginas? Exactly.
But before I begin, I’d like to give a huge big shout out to Mr. Peter Mahoney for the voicemail he left me on my birthday. I miss you, sir. Say hi to Kate for me. Kate who? Kate Morrison? Is she even still alive?
Now, I mentioned a couple of times that I had some infected mosquito bites, and obviously you got to read about how my party was canceled, etc, but here’s the long story. I got bitten by a lot of mosquitos in Fiji, mostly whilst walking through a paddock at night because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Because I do not sleep in mittens, I scratched them. Everyone scratches their mosquito bites, right? It’s what humans do. And then mosquito bites heal. Except that these ones didn’t. They got puffy, and red around them. The chemist said that I should go to a doctor, but I had to work, so I took some disinfectant cream instead, and applied it regularly and tried to keep the bites clean and not pick at them. The red around them got bigger and bigger. And I didn’t go to the doctor, because I was working, and because I don’t have a doctor down here, and because I didn’t want to go on antibiotics and get thrush. All the mosquito bites got bigger and more and more achey. But I’m a dumbass, so I didn’t go to the doctor.
But then on my birthday I had the fabulous present of realising that the lump that I’ve had on my labia for years had become swollen with pus overnight and sore. I had a good look at it (and I don’t have a hand mirror, so instead of being like a ’70s housewife doing her first self exam after reading a feminist pamphlet, I was all pornstar-like straddling a full length mirror). If that wasn’t a sight enough to behold, it turned out that my labia was about four times the size that it normally is. Pus does not belong there! Of course I had a squeeze but OUCH! It didn’t pop. I went to sleep (somehow) fantasizing about someone sinking a large needle into me and pulling out the fluid. That’s not a cool thing to fantasize about. Do you get how painful and uncomfortable it was? When I woke up in the morning it was even more so, and that’s when I knew I had to call a doctor. The local place was closed, so I cried and asked my sister to take me to the After Hours clinic in Newtown. Let me put the pain in perspective for you gentlemen – imagine that you grew a lump on your penis the size of one of your testicles, and you could feel all the pressure that growth was putting on your skin, and every time you walked, or changed position while sitting it increased the pressure. Couple that with the fact that by this stage half of my left calf was bright red and I was in a pretty bad state, and I was totally freaked out that the infection in my legs was the reason for the big pus-y (pusy? How do I avoid saying “pussy”?) lump.
Of course, I had to wait for an hour at the clinic, in a horrible waiting room full of screaming children, on an uncomfortable chair that I shifted gingerly on. I sent Anji to go do the supermarket shopping for our party, which was supposed to be that night so that she wouldn’t have to wait there too. We got to the clinic at about 11am, and I got called up by a nurse around 12pm. She took one look at my leg and said that I needed to get on antibiotics as soon as possible, took my urine and my temperature (38.1), blood sugar (apparently infected things are a diabetes issue – but I still don’t have diabetes. I’m not sure how come. You’d think I would), and sent me through to the doctor’s exam room for a little more privacy for the doctor to look at my lump. The doctor said I’d be really lucky if I could escape going to hospital to be put on an IV drip for antibiotics, but they’d try giving me some via IV to see if that would help. Then I climbed up on the bed (ouch!) for her to have a look (ouch ouch ouch!). She said it was a balkan (that’s not the word, but it was something similiar. I wa?) cyst – that there are glands there for lubrication, and sometimes they become blocked – much like how pimples are formed. Great, except that pimples aren’t THAT BIG. She also said she’d call the on-duty gyno at A&E to get them to see me as soon as I’d had some antibiotics and had my sores dressed.
First, the nurse took a big marker pen and drew all over my leg, marking where the redness had spread to. Then it was antibiotics time. The thing about getting sick is that your veins run away and hide. It took three pokes with a needle to get the “butterfly” in (butterfly? huh? Your medical speak confuzzles me. Although I suppose part of it did look a little like a butterfly), and then the nurse had to flush my vein with saline, but couldn’t, so she had to move it to another vein. There she could flush it okay, but when she got to the injecting me with antibiotics stage, it HUUUUUUUUUURT so bad that she said that it obviously wasn’t in, so she tried again without any success and had to get the doctor to come and redo it for her. Third time’s a charm. It took half an hour or so for her to sloooooooooooooowly shoot me full of antibiotics. Then I had to lie down on my stomach, bare legs and feet slowly freezing, while she cleaned up my wounds. This wasn’t a simple washing proceedure, oh no. It involved a scalpel blade, cutting off bits of scab and digging out pieces of fluff, a lot of twitching on my behalf, and a lot of apologies from her. Have I mentioned that I was crying all the way through this? Well I was. My labia hurt like mad, the injections and the butterfly left in my arm hurt, having my sores cut open hurt, I was cold, I felt lonely because I’d sent Anji home, I was sick, I was miserable and I was just feeling really sorry for myself, and then I was crying because I was so ashamed that I was acting like a big baby and crying. Fuck I’m a dork. The whole process took a couple of hours. I took a cab to A&E because there was no way in hell I could have walked there at that stage, and gave the letter from the doctor to the lady at the counter, who said that I’d have to see a registrar first, and that there was a two hour waiting period. It was 4pm at that stage and I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before, and I was just so tired, and so sore and so I cried some more while I read the paper and waited. Luckily the lady on the desk turned out to be a truly lovely woman, and she called the gyno registrar who came down to get me, and we walked a long long long way through the hospital up to the gynocology ward because there were no rooms free in A&E. The gyno was South African, as was her supervisor, and together they proded and squeezed me and ignored me as I cried out in pain, said it wasn’t a balkan cyst and declared that I needed to have surgery. They said that if they were in South Africa, they’d just lance the lump under a local anesthetic, but in New Zealand it had to be under general. I was like holy crap! They asked me when I’d last eaten, and I told them, but because I’d had a half a cup of water an hour earlier I wasn’t going to be given the surgery that day. Instead they sent in a Scottish nurse to do more obs on me, who gave me a hug cos I was crying (again) and wrote me a script for some painkillers – thank god. And then Mum showed up, thinking she would just be visiting, but it was time to take me home, after they told me not to eat anything after midnight, and to come back at 7.30am for surgery. Surgery! Holy crap!
So I cried and cried and cried on Mum’s shoulder, and she took me home and stayed around while I had a shower cos Anji went out to pick up dinner. I’d sent out texts (i have never typed the word “vagina” so often!) whilst having my wounds cleaned telling people the party was off, but Dave and Karen came around to hang out, and then Joel showed up with a crate cos he hadn’t seen the notice on my site that Heather had put up for me. They got drunk and rowdy and laughing at me while I sat in my pjs trying not to move, getting slightly dopey on painkillers and feeling sorry for myself. I went to bed before midnight, but they were still banging about at 3am. Best birthday party EVER!
So somehow in the cold dark very very thirsty painful morning I managed to get myself up and Mum picked me up at 7.15am. I didn’t take any more painkillers cos I didn’t know if I was allowed them or not. I got a bed in a ward with one other woman in it, and the nurse told me to change into the hospital gown by 8am when she’d come and do obs on me. Well, she didn’t do them until about 11am. I managed to sleep some, with my lovely mother sitting by my side reading magazines. Then a security guard came to wheel my bed away. I was a little suprised – I guess I thought that the doctor would come and talk to me in the ward. But perhaps I watch too much TV. The anesthetist came to talk to me, and he was a horrible little man, talking about how I was a risk because I was so big (which is something no one else had bothered to mention) and how someone of his size was much safer – but he had to pump my bed down so he could look me in the eye, so you know what buddy? You’re not normal either. One of the nurses was lovely though, and was really nice about taking my obs and just seemed calming in general. Then I met the surgeon – he was young, and kind of cute, and his first name was Nick, so hi everybody! I said that it seemed kind of full on having to get general anesthetic and all, and he said that we were more humane than the South Africans. But then I was wheeled into the operating room, and that was just extreme – knowing that there were at least six people standing around who were going to be dedicated to my vagina for the next 20 minutes or so. Freaky.
The operating table that I clambered on to was much smaller than the bed, and they had me half sitting up on a large stack of pillows. Then they attached arm rests out the sides of the bed and had me pinned down – inserting a drip on one side, and a blood pressure thing on the other, and then they pushed an oxygen mask down on my face, and I started freaking out, because it was like they were trying to smother me (which is dumb, of course – it’s like they were trying to starve me to death with chocolate cake), and I was whimpering so the nice nurse stroked my arm and I had Tyler Durdan saying over and over in my head “oxygen makes you high” and they told me to keep my eyes open even though they were gradually putting me to sleep through the drip, and then I opened my eyes and it was later and I was in the recovery room. I still had the damn oxygen mask on, and I tried to take it off, but the nurse told me to leave it on for a bit more. By then I hadn’t had water for over twelve hours, and I had a sore throat anyway, so I could hardly breathe because of that, so I asked for water and she gave it to me, but then kept freaking me out by telling me to take deep breaths because my oxygen stats were still too low. She put those nasal oxgen things on me instead, and that was better, although it was still hard to breathe deeply. I asked if I had to stay awake and she said no, but I was still aware of them rolling me back through miles of hospital to the ward, where Mum still was. I said I was going to sleep for a while so she left. I still had a pump thing in my hand, and a pad to soak up the blood and pus, and to make things extra jolly I started my period. But I slept amazingly well. They wouldn’t let me leave until I ate something, so I had the bread and fruit that went with my long-ago-gone-cold lunch, and Dr Nick came in and asked if “my friend” was going to take me away, the big cheese – Mum quite obviously looks like a mum. But he is forgiven because he wrote me a script for codeine because halabuton or whatever else I’d been given the night before is like a dollar a pill. He said codeine was an old fashioned drug, just like him, and asked me if I was old fashioned too. Well, when it comes to codeine, I sure am. Now I can bribe more people to wear bear suits for me! When I have my party! Which I will! And I will be drunk at it! And not in pain! Hurray!
On the clinic’s doctor’s orders, I had a week off work, during which time I took my antibiotics like a good girl mostly (it’s hard cos there’s two types, and one I am supposed to take two hours after eating and an hour before eating, and hello, I graze) and mostly avoided alcohol, and didn’t go out and all that, and had a follow up appointment with the doctor on my street who has a horrible receptionist gatekeeper, and a nurse who put bits of gauze on my legs with one piece of tape and thought that was a good enough dressing. And in exchange for that goodness? I now have the flu, and thrush. Hurray!
But I’m going to Rarotonga in two sleeps. So I guess it’s not all bad….