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Friday, September 24, 2010

Gimpy in Abu Dhabi

A couple of weeks ago my left ankle swelled up and became extremely painful, I could hardly walk. I was shuffling around like Quasimodo so I decided I needed to see a doctor. This was no easy decision for me as I am extremely adverse to strangers poking, prodding, demanding bodily fluids and sticking painful needles into my person. I usually would prefer a severe beating than a visit to a medical clinic.

Fortunately, my employer maintains a clinic on premises so I shuffled in hoping for a quick resolution to my problem. A quick exam and a prescription of strong pain pills was my goal. That was not to be.

The initial screening consisted of a blood pressure test. I failed miserably at this and attention quickly turned to my hypertension and the painful ankle I originally came in for took a back seat. This scared me as I could see the concerned looks on the faces of the medical technicians and the doctor.

A bit of background. I have what is called "White Coat Syndrome" where anxiety is experienced in a clinical atmosphere. My pulse rate and blood pressure go way up just by entering a hospital or clinic. It is like a fear of heights, a phobia. It reaches a pinnacle when they wrap the pneumatic cuff around my upper arm for the BP test and they pump it up. Since I was in my 20's I have always showed elevated pulse and blood pressure rates in this situation.

So with this in mind, the doctor forbade me to work for the next four days (Yay!) and sent me to an emergency room downtown where I was to get some blood tests and x-rays done. Since it was a holiday, no specialists were available to interpret the results.

My foot still hurts.

The next day I had to go to an orthopedic specialist all the way downtown. I have a manual transmission car and grimaced in pain every time I had to use the clutch pedal. The doc diagnosed my condition as gout, a buildup of sharp crystals in a joint caused by consuming too much red meat, beer and seafood. All my favorite things. He prescribed some pills but told me to only take them after the pain and swelling subsided (WTF!) and to quit consuming my favorite things.

My foot still hurts.

The next day I had to see a cardiologist about my blood pressure. Another painful drive downtown. I had an EKG done and when wired up thought I could end up on the operation table in 24 hours with my chest cracked open for open heart surgery if they found anything amiss. I was sent off wearing a machine that checked my blood pressure every 30 minutes for 24 hours. that was fun, especially when trying to sleep.

My foot still hurts.

The next day I had to take yet another painful drive back to the cardiologist for the results. Turns out that my BP is slightly elevated but can be controlled and lowered by exercise. I must also give up caffeine, alcohol, salt, meat, soft drinks and other favorite things. I quit listening after the first few. I refuse to live like a monk. Quality vs quantity is how I live.

My foot still hurts.

After days of running around I found out I was actually quite healthy. None of the tests revealed a serious problem. Every medical professional I dealt with seemed competent and cordial. I never had to wait for hours (like in the US) to see the doctor and I was treated quite well. As far as costs, I was only charged a copay of 50 Dirhams  ($14 USD) and the prescriptions were totally free. They even let me keep my x-rays!

But my damn foot still hurts! It's getting better though.


Neil Roberts said...

Hope it heals soon!

You can see docs here so much quicker it has to be said. I have found the quality does vary though, but seems you had some good ones.

.. you must be one of the few guys here with a stick shift!


Chuck said...

Cutting back on caffeine seems to have helped my blood pressure a lot...the doctor had been threatening to put me on medicine for it but the last time I went in it was normal. Of course, I had been living a healthy lifestyle for the three weeks before my physical, and now I've backslid a bit. Hope your foot is back to 100% soon!

Anonymous said...

I can see your problem just by looking at your x-rays. . .you have angry things with teeth down there! Get 'em drunk and they'll go to sleep. Then move while they're passed out, and don't leave a forwarding address.-


Ace said...

Neil, I have always specified a manual xmission when I was able. I learned to drive with one and it is a preference. I fear it is a lost art and may make the Jeep difficult to sell. I have a Mustang V8 convertible (drophead, I have owned MGBs too)back in the States that is also stick. Much fun!

Maybe I did get some good Docs, but no one wants to make a decision and like most things here, nothing is easy! The list of tests I have taken and yet to take is endless!

I just wanted to have one appointment, get an exam and a prescription and go home. I have had no less than 8 clinic visits since my initial appointment and there are more to come. If I was that sick, I should be admitted into the hospital. The overall care seems good although I think the insurance company is being milked.

Ace said...

Chuck, I was advised to cut down on just about everything I enjoy. Duly noted, but I prefer quality of life over quantity. My foot is about 90% now, what a relief!

The night before your physical, go out and drink heavily until 4AM! That way all problems will be exposed and you will get your money's worth at the clinic. Show up a total wreck!

Rog, I am taking pills that are toxic to the ankle-chewers. They will be unceremoniously excreted soon, ending with an eventual burial at sea!!