Over the last three weeks I’ve had a bit of a health scare. Everything’s fine, but it’s been an ‘interesting’ time…
During early September, I experienced what is called ‘gross hematuria’. You can Google it if you really want to know what it is, but, in a nut shell, it’s one bodily fluid that IS NOT supposed to exit your body coming out with another bodily fluid that IS supposed to exit your body.
I had it once before almost a year and a half ago, and at that time I attributed it to a new medication I was taking because it was listed as an uncommon side effect. I had the requisite testing and nothing was revealed. Eventually the side affects disappeared and all was well, so I attributed it to the medication that didn’t agree with me.
But I’m not on that medication now, so I was a bit surprised and bummed when gross hematuria happened again.
I went to see my family doctor who diagnosed a probable urinary tract infection. I had never had one before, so I was a bit surprised.
I was placed on antibiotics for a week, but I got a call a few days later (after test results came in) and was told, “Lo and behold–you don’t have a UTI.”
Kidney stones were suspected, but I didn’t have any of the normal symptoms associated with them–the INTENSE pain, nausea, fever, etc… (If you’ve ever experienced or talked with someone who has had them, you know how awful they are!)
I figured that the stones weren’t quite mobile yet, and I didn’t really want to have another MRI to determine what was going on because how much could change in 18 months. Besides, the gross hematuria wasn’t THAT bad…
However, I had some other symptoms that were a bit worrisome. So I asked our wonderful friends Dean and Lil, a gynecologist and nurse, if I needed to see a specialist.
Dean said, “Yes.” He said that if men have gross hematuria once, they need a full urinary tract workup. If women have it twice, they need to.
While that was bad news for me because this was my second episode, I did giggle a bit to myself because, once again, something that involves penises is much more important than whatever a woman has. 🙂
(I’m sure there is some anatomical and/or biological reason for the single vs double reasoning, but it still made me giggle…)
Long story short…
I went to see a specialist, and I am fine.
I do not have anything visible in my kidneys, and, most importantly, because it’s what I thought I had, I do not have bladder cancer.
He tested this and tested that. He looked up into this and looked around at that.
Everything came back negative. (D = True Negative)
I learned a lot throughout this month. For example, I didn’t realize that bladder cancer is so prevalent.
Men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to get bladder cancer during their lifetime than women. Overall, the chance men will develop this cancer during their life is about 1 in 26. For women, the chance is about 1 in 90.
I also learned that bladder cancer is often caused by exposure to chemicals including smoke (I was around a lot of second hand smoke for twenty years, but then again–haven’t we all been around it.) and arsenic (The water where I lived for 30 years had lots of arsenic in it.)
The good news for me was that if I had bladder cancer, it wasn’t really my fault. I couldn’t help the fact that my parents smoked, and I couldn’t help the fact that the water had arsenic.
Sounds stupid, but I’ve always felt that my health issues since my bicycle fall were my fault because I should have not fallen or I should have launched myself off of my bike so that I landed on lawn instead of asphalt.
Regardless, I was so very, very relieved when the doctor told me that he saw no tumors in my bladder.
But that relief only lasted a few seconds, because then he said in an accusing tone, “But you have LOTS of gallstones!”
Gallstones are usually caused by high cholesterol which is often caused by a diet too high in fat. That’s partially true for me because I’m not the healthiest eater, but endocrine changes to my body after my bicycle fall also contribute to my high cholesterol. So the gallstones ARE my fault.
That being said, I’m still so relieved that I ONLY have gallstones and (fingers crossed–so far) they aren’t bothering me a bit. 🙂