Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Dr. TC to the Rescue

On Thursday, as I'm basically killing myself to try and meet my deadline, I get a one-line email from my normally chatty brother-in-law. "Are you there?" it said.

I wrote him back a sort of rambling thing about deadline pressure and where I'd be over the next few days, and then said, "Of course, if you need me, you can reach me at home."

His return email came seconds later. "I'm peeing blood. What should I do?"

Now, a fair number of the people who read me know me and have known me for years. And they're all laughing and rolling their eyes already, because they know that I'm probably the AMA's Public Enemy Number One. While I've never tried to literally practice medicine, that doesn't stop me from spewing advice on any number of topics, making "diagnoses," and generally begin a buttinsky. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who encourage me in my delusion of medical gradeur, so I'm not entirely to blame. (After my sister had some weird allergic reaction to a medication a few weeks back, she remarked to our mother, "I saw five doctors this week, but Dr. TC was the only one who knew what she was talking about.")

Anyway, I may be delusional, but I'm also responsible. My reply to my brother-in-law: Get to doctor. Peeing blood is bad--probably a kidney infection or something, but still, it'll at least need antibiotics. Go now.

A few hours later, while I'm out picking up N, he calls and talks to Baroy. Apparently, the doctor took a urine sample, thumped on his kidneys, and scheduled my bil for a CT scan the next day, "to rule out cancer." Bil is obvisouly a bit freaked by this.

Oh, another aside. My brother-in-law is both single and gay. And he's the only other person in the family living out there besides for us. So we're tight. And sometimes, that tightness means I play the role of his wife. So when I heard about the scan, I called him to offer to go to the hospital with him and sit and hold his hand, however metaphorically. He was very grateful.

I then started to ask some questions. My first one was, I thought, a gimme: "So after they did that dip stick test for blood in your urine, did they do anything else, or were they just sending it directly to the lab?"

"I don't think they did a dip stick test," my bil replied.

"Oh, of course they did," I said. "It's the very first thing they always do when you give a urine sample."

"No, I don't think so. It was very pink, my urine. I don't think they bothered testing it for blood."

Well. I was already starting to get pissed, but then I decided that bil just didn't know what had gone on. I made him promise to call his doctor's office the first thing in the morning to make sure they'd tested the urine for blood--though, as my bil pointed out, what else could it be?--and when the rest of the results would be in.

About 45 minutes later he calls back again. "Ummm..."

"Yes?" I said.

"So when I was out to dinner last night with Glen and had that huge plate of beets..."

"You had a huge plate of beets."

"Uh huh."

"And today your urine is red."

"Uh huh."

I sighed very, very deeply, instructed him to down as much water as he could handle, and see what happened to the color.

"So I'm not being silly," he said. "You do think it could be the beets?"

"Of COURSE it's the beets!" I said. "I'm just flabbergasted that your doctor not only didn't ask you whether you'd eaten anything unusual in the last day or two, but also actually didn't check your urine for the presence of, you know, BLOOD before scheduling you for a CT scan."

The long and short? He called the next morning, they said something like, "Beets, huh?" and then "Oh, yeah, testing the urine for blood is a good idea." And then they said something like, "Well, lookie here. There's not a single blood cell in this very pink urine. Who'da thunk?"

Me! I'd'a thunk! And this is one of those LA "boutique" docs who actually charges a membership fee before you can even be one of his patients! What is WRONG with these people!

Sigh again.

But I do have to admit, it's going to be worth all that tsuris just to be able to hold "the beet story" over my bil's head for the next umpteen years.

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