So, what has always been some “minor” stomach issues has now erupted into a full-blown medical crisis. I’ve had some weird stomach pressure and pain recently, and I missed a few days of work because of it. Then, it went away, and I figured it was just something I’d eaten (though, honestly, I knew that the pressure at least had been around too long.)
This week, the “pressure” came back, but it wasn’t pressure. It was full blown pain, like “Oh god, my stomach is going to explode” pain. I worked through it for two days (yes, I’m American, and yes we do that way too much), and on a day when we didn’t have as much going on, I went up to the nurse at work. She investigated it, and found that it was tender, and it had something called “rebound tenderness,” where suddenly letting up causes the pain to get worse. She told me I needed to go see a doctor. Again, because I’m an idiot, I asked it could wait until Saturday, and she looked at me like she couldn’t believe I said that, and said that I really needed to see the doctor that day if possible. I was worried that my bosses would object, why I don’t know (I know I wasn’t thinking clearly), but they (of course) said it was fine for me to go.
(I bring all this up because I want to explain the crappy mindset you can end up with if you grow up poor, and then spend several years without either insurance or sick leave. It leaves you fearful of taking any time off work when sick.)
The doctor inspected me, and further explained that rebound tenderness is a Very Bad Thing. Blood and stool tests were both done, but both came back normal. He talked to me about possibilities, and this conversation included some scary words (though he did say it probably wasn’t a tumor, since there was no blood in my stool). He said that he wanted to do a colonoscopy to try to figure out what was wrong.
And this is where being sick in the FS is different than normal life. Back home, I’d say ok, and we’d schedule it for as soon as possible in the closest hospital. However, due to concerns about local doctors and facilities, I’m supposed to run this by our health unit at the Consulate, who then run it by the Health Unit at the Embassy. They have detailed information on all the facilities in the country, and can determine if it is safe to have it at the local hospital or if I need to go elsewhere. In this case, they have decided that I should go instead to Hong Kong to have this test done. So, now I wait for that to get scheduled, and then I’ll put in for the few days off needed to go and get a simple procedure done.
I am currently grateful for having good insurance, good bosses, good friends, and most of all a good wife who supports me through all my problems. But, for once I’d like my body not to be falling apart. Oh well.