The Unfortunate Incident by Rick London c2012

     Have you ever thought about a really fun thing, event, or person of whom to blog, and the more you thought about it the more you said to yourself, “Are you absolutely out of your head?”

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   This is not the kind of story you share with strangers, much less other adult friends with whom you’ve reconnected on facebook and/or Twitter because even though you’re a thousand or so miles apart now, you can almost feel their face blush traveling through your broadband and smacks you right in the psyche.

     This is one of those blogs. 

      One of my favorite songs of irony is one of Eric Clapton’s lesser-known tunes called, “Don’t Show Me Anything New, I’ve Seen It All Before”. And even though the man has great humility and it is easily recognized in the tune, that is, that he’s being facetious and telling an important tale such as, “Even if you are worldly like me, and think you’ve seen it all, something new comes along new and bites you on the butt and you are humbled yet more”.

      That is what happened to me, bit me in the butt… literally (well almost my butt) last Wednesday morning on a beautiful but chilly mountain hike with my beloved wife Lee. I knew the minute this insect (or whatever it was) did its dirty deed, that it had done so, but I was so fascinated being out in nature with Lee (that is my usual feeling once high up and far from the maddening crowd), I put my brain into denial mode, sort of brushed it away with one of my Wal-Mart $6.50 fake goose down navy blue gloves with verbose wrist-grips,  and continued on the journey and forgot about it….until last Friday night which was 2.8 days later.

       I’ll be blunt.  Whatever it was, it decided my left testicle would provide enough nourishment for the rest of the winter and apparently had a double-helping without even asking the waitress.   I was glad I had a few ounces of hydrogen peroxide left in the bathroom as it is my end all/be all relief for every venomous insect in the forest (that happens to find me tasty). For me, Hydrogen Peroxide is the same as what Windex was to “Toula’s” Dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  It cures everything. Or so I thought.

      Fast-forward three or so hours and Lee, whose desk sits behind mine in our living room office, asked me if I was okay. I guess I was making sounds as if I may not be, such as screaming at the top of my lungs and saying words I haven’t really used since I was an anti-war hippie demonstrator with shoulder length hair in the late 1960’s.  I am 58 years old now, people. It’s hard to even get a “darn” out of me. Not Friday night though.   On the other hand I know I’m also way too old to be a mile above sea level with an insect’s fangs drenching the life-force from my body.    I finally was able to respond to Lee. It probably was not the response for which she’d wished, or even expected.

     I asked, “Baby, do you remember congratulating me a few days ago for not having to go to the hospital emergency room since, oh, about 1.5 years ago when I had to have a very large kidney stone removed?”  Oh wait, had a brief visit there in the summer after a hiking accident followed by 3 months of physical therapy.  Then 2 dental surgeries. My this has been a fun year.

       “Yes I surely do,” she responded with a sweet hug and kiss. 

       “Well, as much as I appreciate it, I have a feeling this temporary record I broke of staying away from the ER, is about to be revoked,” I added.

        Why, what’s wrong? Is it your heart?  A having any chest pains?    What are your kidneys feeling like? Do you feel faint?”

        “I’m afraid it’s worse than all that,” I finally revealed. “It appears I have burned a good bit of my scrotum off.”

      “That’s not good,” she jokingly said, probably thinking I was joking and had a punch line on the way; as that kind of thing is “normal” in the London home…a serious statement; followed by a delayed punch line.

       “On purpose?”, she asked?

        Suddenly I felt like Kramer talking to Jerry on Seinfeld.  “Of course not on purpose. Do you think I would do something like that on purpose?”

        “You sometimes do some odd things”, she reminded me (as if I didn’t know). 

         “Well, I’ll go get the van. You surely don’t need to be driving to the hospital”.

       I chuckled in an odd sort of way thinking, “As if I could really drive a motor vehicle in this sort of pain. This feels like a kidney stone on steroids.”

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        I tried to wait it out, thinking if I could just go to sleep, I would wake up tomorrow and it would have healed and I would have forgotten this stupid deed and moved on with my life.  The Universe decided last Friday night was a night that was not going to be real merciful, so I stumbled into the van and she rushed me to National Park Medical Center where half the staff knows me by name, but my reasons for being there were more “traditional” such as heart surgery, kidney surgery, testing for sleep apnea and all the other fun ailments to which AARP has built a glossy page-turning empire.

        We waited the usual 2.5+ hours in the “television room” and watched (what was probably a funny episode) of “Family Guy” but I was not laughing. Also, wondered why the hospital had “The Family Guy” on at night in the waiting room. It’s an adult cartoon and there were kids in the room. Made no sense, but my pain was too much to complain. I just wanted relief.  I just sat there with Lee to my left, her head on my shoulder and concerned green eyes (that turn a pleasing turquoise blue when looking up at the sun) my somewhat mad brown eyes wondering I’m sure, “How does he get himself into these messes?”

       Meantime I’m staring at the little blue “hospital ER beeper” that every patient gets figuring if I just started at it a little harder, the ER Dept. would pick up my “pain vibes” and yell my name to come in.  Next thing I knew I’d nodded off and maybe an hour later my name was called (surely not from some vibe connection”; it simply was my turn. I was last in line of everyone else waiting with me there.

       The young admittance nurse knew me by my first name. 

      “So Rick.  What brings you here tonight”.  Suddenly I realized the actual sting and consequential evaporation of my skin due to my pouring hydrogen peroxide on it, may not be the toughest part of this entire ordeal after all. 

      The toughest was about to happen. I was going to explain to a woman, maybe in her 20s or 30s, in front of my wife, what I had just done to bring me into their fine medical establishment, known for phenomenal surgeries of the heart, lungs, brain, delivery of babies; but to my knowledge, though I figure for certain I’m not the only one who has done this and found themselves there with a blue beeper; I suddenly knew how lucky I was that Lee was there with me.  But I figured I knew just what to say.

       “I think I was bitten by a bug in a most unfortunate place Wednesday, and tonight I poured several ounces of pharmaceutical grade hydrogen peroxide on that same unfortunate place, which made it yet more unfortunate of a place.  And it remained unfortunate for another three or four days…in spite of the fact  that I was now being treated by the proper medicine, eating all the right foods, taking organic herbal tinctures.”

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      I figured she’d “get the picture” after that bold statement regarding my stupidity.  But nooooooooooo.

      “What unfortunate place was that, Rick?”

       “Very unfortunate,” I responded.

       “If you don’t tell us exactly where, we can’t treat you now can we?”

        “On my scrotum”. 

       “Your scrotum”?

         Had I said something wrong? Had she never run into this type of situation before?  Maybe she had and was on the prudish side (not that this was something I enjoyed talking about with strangers, people I barely knew, and to be honest, people I knew very well.)  When a person does something that stupid, it truly is the kind of thing one prefers to keep to oneself. 

       “Better than having been your penis”, was her actual response. 

       “Did she really say that?” , I wondered to myself? 

     I suddenly felt very alone (again glad Lee was there because she has seen my stupid side, seems fairly used to it, and carries on with her day after I’ve implemented some dumb act (like the one described above).

       She led us down the hallway into a large ER room in which she said the doctor would soon be there to examine me. 

      He was there within 15 minutes or so. He was a tough old army doctor and I liked him.  Less than two years ago; one week I went by ambulance to the ER room almost every night with severe pain below my stomach toward the side.  Having had kidney stones before, I knew that might be an option.  He didn’t remember me, but said to Lee, “But I remember you” (that happens more often than not).

      But every doctor of that late shift sent me back home telling me it was my imagination.  Then came Dr. U.S. Army.  That was my fifth time that week to the ER room.  They hung up my x Rays on the wall across from me.  Lee immediately noticed it and told the doctor what it was. 

That time the doctor (the old crotchety army doctor actually took the time to examine it closely and said to Lee, “You are absolutely right ma’am. And even though the kidney surgery and consequential lithotripsy was a very painful event, I was grateful Lee had seen it and later Dr. Army had verified it. It took a month or two to heal, but finally did so quite nicely.

      Fast forward to last weekend explaining to half the medical staff that it seemed right at the time to saturate the sting or bite with hydrogen peroxide and having each one of them tell me why it was not such a great idea, I finally quit talking about it and let them do their work .

      After 5 days on a strong antifungal/biotic salve, and drugs that make you forget your phone number and current dog’s or cat’s name, Twitter & facebook passwords, first dog’s name, mother’s maiden name, my name, your name, and what planet we are living on (but I did remember if Newt were elected being born Cancers, aka moon children,  Lee and I might have first dibs on a Lunar Condominium). I am now beginning to heal.

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       Please let my experience be a powerful lesson to all others who are contemplating making the same error I made.  And of course that error was (and is) after having such a weird experience, not taking a camera with oneself to the hospital.

    The expression on every single employee’s face was one of someone who was either currently laughing and couldn’t stop, or had been laughing behind my back and finally almost stopped.  I am so fortunate to have friends in the medical community who find such emergencies so hysterical.  I just wonder how any of them would have felt…if the salve had been on the other foot.

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I am a goofy sometimes coordinated, sometimes not, hiker, nature and animal-lover, designer and cartoonist. Oh and freelance writer and songwriter, sorta.  I founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which have been Google #1 ranked since January of 2005.  I am married to my beloved and patient wife  nature/photographer Lee HillerLondon who founded the popular HikeOurPlanet.com nature blog.