Of all the things I've subjected myself since I started writing this blog, getting a doctor to take a gander at the egg-sized, painful lump in my right groin was the most humiliating. Lying in an exam chair, with my right leg out at an angle, pointing to the problem while modestly covered by several sterile drapes is not going to go into my personal-best album.
The doctor, who was wearing a pink button-down shirt and a bow tie, was pleased. He called it a classic presentation, and pointed out the various identifiers of an abscess to the nurse standing next to him. I was busy trying to be someplace else, at least mentally, and didn't pay attention until he hit the thing with freezing spray and incised it.
I'll spare you guys the details. Suffice it to say that the nurse said admiringly, "This ought to be on YouTube." The bow-tied doctor took cultures, irrigated the area with sterile saline, gave me aftercare instructions and a prescription for Bactrim DS, and left the room. The nurse dressed my groin with sterile gauze and antibiotic ointment and a cubic yard of tape. I went to the pharmacy for drugs and then came home, figuring that that would be it.
Until yesterday morning, when the kindly doctor called me himself to tell me that he'd decided, on the basis of the cultures, to add another antibiotic to the regimen. I'm now on both Bactrim DS and Augmentin, eight hundred and seventy-freaking-five milligrams of the latter, both twice a day.
Turns out that it's nothing I did: I quizzed him quite thoroughly on that. It seems that there are bacteria that live normally on your skin and keep it healthy (that I knew) and are quite peaceful in their proper places. When they get inside your skin, though--and this can be through a small abrasion or cut or just by chance--they turn into the sorts of bacteria you don't want anywhere. That's what made me end up with a kiwi-fruit-shaped mass of crap in Area 51: normal skin flora and fauna.
I'll say this for Doctor Bow-Tie: he's human. He told me the story of his own abscess, which he got while a resident, and how it was a tossup whether to have a fellow resident deal with it or go to an outside doctor. He praised my wisdom in not tackling the thing myself, given the proximity of various blood vessels and lymph nodes, some of which were already badly swollen and tender. Apparently he sees several of these a week: who knew the human body was such a soup of potential horror?
The most painful part of the whole ordeal was calling in to work. I was told, solemnly, not to work the day after, to monitor my temp every four hours, and to call the doctor's office if I developed a fever or chills. Trying to tell your boss that you've had an alien removed from the house next door to The Queen of All She Surveys is not easy. Telling a blog audience of a couple thousand is cake by comparison.
So, People: watch yourselves. No amount of personal cleanliness, good diet, or virtuous living can save you from the horror that is quad antibiotic coverage. A one-to-ten solution of bleach to water might help, but I'm not going to bathe in that.