I called the urologist today at 12:22 p.m. They asked me if I could be there at 1:15 p.m.
Not some podunk urologist either. No, the Cleveland Clinic, where they have you fill out your history on Speak & Spells
that have nonsensical screens like this
CAN WE PLEASE JUST DECIDE WHICH WAY THE KEYPAD GOES? Phones and calculators disagree and now the Cleveland Clinic picks a third way? So I was born 1800 years after myself?
Anyway, they gave the Dude a beeper:
Okay, it was a tracking device so they could "locate me," not a beeper. Gotta quote The Big Lebowski whenever you can. (Yes, that is my Dumb & Dumber shirt underneath my sweater.)
My gynie is of a branch of the Cleveland Clinic, and the vulvodynia specialist I went to last August is at the main campus, where I went today. But this time I went to the kidney & urology part, and omg, I think I did good.
I saw Dr. Sandip Vasavada. He talked through my history and symptoms with me and then I got in the stirrups. He swabbed my vagina because, as he explained, bacteria inhabiting the urethra are usually also present in the vagina. I was HELLA HAPPY not to have to get a urethral culture -- I got one at the appointment where I got diagnosed with vulvodynia, and it was like demons shooting out of there.
Then he stuck only the top of the speculum in and did some tests with his fingers. He pulled down on my vagina, towards my anus, which was super-painful as usual, a classic vulvodynia symptom. Then he poked here and there and asked if I was further pained, but I couldn't really tell where he was poking because the other pain -- vestibule and urethra -- was so overwhelming.
Then we were done, and I was relieved. I was tearing up during the exam. I usually retain my composure even for my annual, but that was just too much activity. And of course I'm still feeling god-awful down there.
After I got dressed, the doc told me that my urethra feels "spongey," which is typical of urethritis. He said when he poked my bladder itself -- through my vaginal wall -- I didn't experience increased pain, which points away from interstitial cystitis. OH YES! He said it's possible I have IC but that it really seems to be contained to my urethra -- and therefore -- get ready for it -- ready? -- it's likely BACTERIAL.
So he's culturing for abnormal bacteria, and we'll know in a few days.
He said that empirically, just from my exam, he'd feel comfortable treating me for urethritis, but that we might as well wait for the culture to come back.
I know, right? Bacteria. Like I asked every single doctor up to and including my vulvodynia diagnosis -- "Could it be some bacteria you don't usually test for? COULD IT BE SOME BACTERIA YOU DON'T USUALLY TEST FOR?" Egad. Two and a half years later...
Of course, no confirmation yet, but even if the test comes back negative, I am SO HAPPY to be in good hands, FINALLY! A quick list of the reassuring parts:
- He said my pelvic-floor muscles seem to be in good shape. HE CARED & CARED TO NOTICE & TELL ME!
- He said usually with urethritis, antibiotics take away all the pain, but that if I have residual pain issues (or have developed vulvodynia separately) I can see a pelvic-floor therapist and listed a few. HE CARED AGAIN!
- He said that if the test comes back negative, we'll probably have to go into my bladder with a little tiny camera. (YEOWCH.) He says an MRI is possible but probably won't be necessary because I don't seem to have abnormal tissue anywhere down there. HE CARED AGAIN & USED SCIENCE!
- He let me talk back to him intelligently without being shocked that I might know what I'm talking about after two and a half years living and studying a disease. HE CARED AGAIN & RESPECTED ME!
Holy fucking shit. Thank you Dr. Vasavada. I FINALLY FEEL LIKE I'M IN GOOD HANDS.
Yeah, it makes me a little insane that my....974 days of pain could be due to bacteria that everyone (including another urologist) refused to believe in. But. Would I trade in this experience? Uhm, hells no. See other blog posts. (Unless it's messed with my half-a-babies. That grosses me out.) (NO, not pregnant with multiples. Half-a-babies = eggs.)
Then, driving away, I asked myself if I would trade in the experience if it lasted for years and years or even until a decades-away death. And I still don't have an answer for that. I can't imagine living with this pain interminably. I think that's why I've been losing my cool lately -- because it's seemed more and more likely that there would be no resolution, never anyone who cared enough to figure it out.
BUT NOW THERE IS SOMEONE.
SCIENCE! FUCK YEAH!
Every time I've seen a new doctor or read about a different treatment, I've never known where the road would go. It's happened countless times, and it's the same case here. But knowing that I found someone -- a whole department, it seems -- who cares enough to stick with this until it's resolved -- cured or not -- makes me feel like DANCING ON ROOFTOPS.
I was always jealous of Dick van Dyke.
OMFG SO JEALOUS OF THE CHIMNEY SWEEPS. WHEN MY CROTCH FEELS BETTER I'M TOTALLY LEARNING HOW TO DO MOP CARTWHEELS. To this song:
You know it's on my MP3 player.