Another infection? When will this end?

09/09/2009 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I haven’t been healthy since June.

I have developed a urinary tract infection. This follows the vaginal, and other, infections I was fighting all summer. I don’t know if they are all related. Those vaginal infections were due to some species of Candida yeast and some species of Gardenella bacteria. And they hit me at the same time in a double-whammy. Both broke through my defenses and both survived the first round of treatment.

It is not clear whether the urinary tract infection is related to the vaginal infections. Strangely, my vagina & bladder feel fine… I always thought that UTIs were supposed to be intensely painful, with urinary frequency & urgency. When my relatives & friends have dealt with UTIs, they were completely taken out of commission for days. Yet I’ve been walking around, going to work, dealing with a sense of malaise…

Mine’s not acting the way I expect it to. No fever, no urinary urgency, just some post-urinary burning that is eased by diluting my urine with lots of water & cranberry juice. This is all isolated to my urethra…

…And, unfortunately, my kidney & groin lymph nodes.

Oh how lovely. A UTI that doesn’t follow the usual course of symptoms, thus making it even harder to identify. How typical of my body, to throw something at me that bends or breaks rules. And it’s in the kidney too, threatening my long-term health.

And let me tell you, it was a real trick trying to identify that lymph node pain. Since I already have pelvic floor issues to begin with, and I had done my pelvic floor stretching exercises the night before figuring it out, I had a hard time differentiating between normal post-exercise pain vs. unusual pain.
But I hadn’t stretched THAT much… and I had done nothing else to exhaust my legs that much during the long weekend. Wh-what is this? Where is this pain where my leg meets the rest of my body coming from? There shouldn’t be that much there… did I do something wrong?

Then I remembered that there are lymph nodes in my groin.

Oh, right. That. …Okay so it definitely IS an infection I’m dealing with here, and not some vulvodynia-related oddity or structural abnormality out of the blue. It was, and remains, my greatest fear, that this UTI is a hint of what interestial cystitis must be like… what if this is the beginning of IC for me…?
The nodes are reacting. They are trying to fight for me.  It must be an infection.
I do not believe the lymph nodes are swollen. They just hurt. It is a tired-pain. It drags on me.

When I noticed symptoms, I ran to the doctor, thank the powers that be that I actually have insurance and could even afford to run back & forth to the doctors several times this summer. If not for my insurance I would have not been able to afford medical treatment for some or all of these infections. I have been checking the insurance statements as they come in. If not for insurance, I would have racked up several thousand dollars of medical debt within 3 months. ($1,000+ of that was for a blood sample as part of a general wellness physical exam. I hadn’t had a physical since January 2007.) But with insurance, I “Just” had to pay, a few hundred dollars total over the course of the summer instead.

Ow. My budget.
Ow, my vag.
Ow, my urethra.
Vag & urethra win this round…

Of course it doesn’t help my wallet that several of the treatments I’ve taken this summer, for the vaginal and now urinary tract infections, failed. Thus forcing me to return to the doctors for different, stronger meds. I’m still responsible for co-pays but my god I’d be in deep if not for insurance. Would I have had to wait until the UTI developed into kidney failure then be rushed to the emergency room at the hospital…?

While I am grateful for the insurance blanket, and for having an employer who will let me leave work to run to the doctor’s office, I am not fully satisfied with my experience with doctors this summer.

How typical of my experience with ordinary run-of-the-mill doctors. They lost my urine sample.

How do you lose a urine sample… the sample that would have answered all questions – what am I facing here and how do I fight it?
So we don’t even know exactly which strain of bacteria we’re dealing with here. If it even is bacteria. Something strong enough to survive a week of Bactrim, anyway. What  resists Bactrim? Did I do something wrong in the past to breed resistant bacteria? HOW WOULD I KNOW?

So I had to go back to the doctor when it didn’t respond to Bactrim.

Unfortunately by then I had already started the Bactrim antibiotic, and was on day 6 of a 7-day course. I left a urine sample at the follow up visit, but since I was already on medication, it is doubtful that the culture will grow anything. If what I have is some kind of weird strain of bacteria, or a resistant strain, will enough show up in my urine to grow in a lab culture, even if I was on antibiotics?

So we are fighting in the dark.

Levaquin, for one week, once per day, 500mg.
I can’t tell if it’s working.
If Levaquin fails, what next?

Where are these infections even coming from?

How is it that I am developing infections that can be exacerbated by sexual activity, when I myself am not sexually active with a partner?

I’m not even having sex.
Even under a broad definition. My libido has been crashy for much of the summer, because of the infections. Certainly no partnered activity is taking place, as my partner is out of state. I’ve been keeping my dilator kit as clean as possible, even using a condom over them after the vaginal infections cleared.

And with this infection dragging me down, my pelvic floor is out of commission again. No sense trying to dilate if doing so risks pushing more germs up into me.

Looks like I’ll be taking a few steps back this fall.

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