Not only is it a long weekend in Washington State this weekend, it is raining (quite a lot), and HG has a head cold – Manhead Cold! He has a particularly bad one – the strain of Manhead Cold that is very  vocal. You know the one I mean – he’s wracked with the constant ‘ooooaughoaua’ (clearing throat), ‘achem’, ‘ac-CHOO’, ‘kaaahhkkk’ (clearing throat alternative sound), ‘niff’ (sniffing) – all interspersed with blowing his nose. Poor HG, I’m thinking our long awaited and eagerly looked forward to long weekend is going to be extra-long …………. sigh!

On the upside of this rain though is the fact we can now sleep with a duvet on the bed. ‘Sleep’ and ‘duvet’ being the operative words there, as it’s been too hot to sleep and let alone have a duvet on the bed! There is nothing nicer, after months of high temperatures, than snuggling down under the duvet with the rain pouring outside – well, for a short while anyway!  It’s also perfect for watching old movies on Netflix, like Hello Dolly and wearing my new Sorrel boots 🙂

Hunter Gather suffering with this Manhead Cold reminds me of a wee episode he had a few months ago with the amazingly efficient health system they have in this State. All he needed was new orthotics – his old ones having worn out with all the walking he’s been doing the last five months.

It was HG’s first doctors visit here in America and so, like me, he went into Virginia Mason to enrol and make an appointment. Asking if he could see the doctor I had seen he was ‘encouraged’ to see a male doctor and was given the choice of two. He took a stab in the dark and chose to make an appointment with the doctor with the most interesting sounding name! It turned out to be the right stab in the dark as Dr L is one of the Sounders Football Team doctors, and HG loves his football.

Being the first visit, an annual physical was offered. Yes, ok, said HG, sounds like a good idea – orthotics AND physical in one appointment ………. bonus!

So into the gown he went and got checked over by the football loving Dr L. Blood tests and blood pressure were done, heart was listened to, prostate was checked, and urine sample was asked for. HG was most impressed with the urine sample procedure. In the bathroom next to the toilet is a wee cupboard in the wall. Once done, you pop the sample in the cupboard and close the wee door. A nurse then opens the cupboard door on the other side of the wall taking the pottle out for testing.  Brilliant – no wandering around with your sample in hand trying to hide it from everyone you come across before you find the nurse or shelf to put it on as is the case in some surgeries in NZ.

HG came home quite excited by this consultation, and relieved he survived the dreaded prostate examination. Singing the praises of Dr L and his chat about football, I ask about the orthotics – oh yes, he has the name of a podiatrist to visit.

All medical records, blood test results, radiology results, lab results of any kind, doctor’s notes etc. are accessible to you, the patient, on your own health system portal. The doctor is able to send you emails through this portal – as are you, able to send to him. It’s a brilliant system – until perhaps you get the results before the doctor has had time to let you know what they all mean! So it was that we got HG’s urine test results back saying they were not normal. Quickly googling (really bad thing to do I know) what this might mean I tried to remain calm putting kidney disease and bladder cancer to the back of my mind. HG on the other hand was quite confident there was nothing to worry about. A few hours later there was the email from the Dr L suggesting another appointment.

So returns HG to see Dr L – looking forward to more football talk. Dr L suggests another urine test (which still returns an abnormal reading) and a CT with IV contrast of the bladder. This is carried out a few days later with the results coming back all clear, no problem. Great I sigh – but too soon? Dr L then suggests an appointment with a urologist and possibly a cystoscopy ………. just to double check all is good and there’s absolutely no need for concern!

Again it is but just days later that HG happily bused into Seattle to have a ‘consultative’ appointment with the urologist to discuss the merits/necessity of going ahead with a cystoscopy. It is not a pleasant procedure to have, so if the urologist thinks it’s not necessary then great. If he does though, then at least HG can mentally prepare himself for having it at a later date.

Sometimes it’s best if things are just sprung upon us! Mark Twain once said something like “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long”.

The urologist said best be sure all is good so let’s go ahead with the cystoscopy ……… and I can do it now! So, into another hospital gown with openings all over the place HG got, and had this horrible procedure done – along with another prostate exam!! Again HG scored 100%, and was told ‘some people just have this unusual urine reading naturally – you must be one of them’!

The good news from all this is we know HG is in fine fettle in the kidney, bladder and prostate department, and the total cost for all this care amounted to USD40.  The bad news is that he still doesn’t have new orthotics!

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