Another year, another diagnosis (or two)

Last year (in March), it was cervical radiculopathy on my left side. This year, it is epididymitis and muscle strains.

About two and a half weeks ago, I was playing Ring Fit Adventure for some fun exercise at home stuff. However, I had some pain in my balls of all places, but it seemed to go away after 15 minutes or so. Okay, no big deal, I thought. I probably just jostled the boys around too much. It wasn’t so simple. The next day, the pain came and went a few times, and that’s when I started to worry. Was it a varicocele? I don’t know what that is, but I like to self-diagnose. Who doesn’t? Then, the abdominal and groin pain started to kick in. It felt like intense muscle soreness. So, then I was worried it was a hernia or a sports hernia. It wasn’t feeling better the next day, so I decided to go to the urgent care. That’s scary enough on its own because I don’t really have insurance coverage right now—it’s a tricky situation and I won’t bore with the details. But I did. And the doctor poked around my groin and my abdomen, then decided that, yeah, it was a hernia. So, that’s what I thought it was.

It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that later. The doctor told me that I could put off surgery and whatnot so long as it wasn’t getting worse. Well, that would be great, but it did start to feel much worse that night. I was shivering and in a lot of pain and oh so bloated, and it looked like there was a growing lump right next to my belly button. So, I started looking for an ER near me because it seemed like going to one was going to be a real possibility. Luckily, there’s one nearby that offers financial assistance, which I was sorely (pun definitely intended) going to need. I got there, got checked in, got poked three times before they finally got the IV in with the fourth, got a physical, got a CT scan, got an ultrasound done on my balls, and then I waited… for hours. Eventually, I figured that was a good thing. If I was in serious danger, they’d get to me right away, right? (Also, when I say eventually, I mean it. I was traumatized. Hospitals scare me. I hadn’t been in one in over a decade. I’ve never been stuck with an IV. I have bad experiences with needles. I was shaking and crying at various points.) Then, I started to chuckle to myself and wonder if this was some elaborate prank by the universe. Alas, the universe had some kind of sentience after all and was pranking me. The doctor would be back any minute to tell me that I just had some bad gas or something.

Well, yeah, my abdominal pain was random, they said. The doctor told me that, for every ten patients that come in with abdominal pain, nine leave with it. It can just kinda happen, I guess. Well, what about my balls? Just an infection—epididymitis. It can be caused by groin injuries (which may have happened during my intense Ring Fit Adventure workout—but really; I pushed myself) or it can be caused by urine going back down the urethra (yuck) or an STI. Given that my groin was still in a lot of pain, I figured it was due to a groin injury. So, I was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers. My aching balls got worse, but then they got much better, and I think I’m pretty good—though, the discomfort can last for weeks to months after the infection clears, which sucks.

But I wasn’t done. That wasn’t enough of a curveball. A week ago, while I was still recovering from the infection, I managed to injure myself. I was grumpy. I wanted some coffee. I went to boil some water. I stuck the thermometer in the boiling water. I wiped the thermometer on my shirt. Only to realize that the thermometer wasn’t clean—it had some taco sauce juice on it. I was beyond grumpy. But I decided to be productive about my grumpiness, and I gathered some other laundry so I could throw my shirt in (after spraying it with some anti-stain stuff). Now, picture in your mind’s eye a grumpy man with a testicular infection whose new favorite shirt just got dirty. Now, he’s pushing laundry down into the top-loading washing machine. Now, listen. His elbow just popped. Did you hear that?

I sure did. Then, slowly, I felt it. To be fair, the pop was most likely just a normal joint pop, but the following pain wasn’t normal. Straightening or bending my arm hurt. And it hurt more. And it hurt even more. So, I held my arm bent and still. Later, I tried to extend my arm again, slowly, to see if the pain had gone away. Oh, I got my arm about 90% straight before white-hot shooting pain manifested in my elbow. That was a bit worrying. The next day, it was back to urgent care; though, I went to a different urgent care that time. The good news was that my x-rays came back clean, so it wasn’t a problem with bones or the joint itself. I got a sling to keep it from moving in my sleep, and I was told to RICE. No problem. It wasn’t really feeling better. It was kind of feeling worse—my arm just felt more sore all around. Of course, I didn’t keep my arm in the sling all the time. I knew it would be good to give the joint some use as long as I didn’t enter the pain zone. At one point, I was massaging my triceps and— Ow! That pain in my elbow was there! It wasn’t nearly as bad, but it still sucked.

Well, today, I had a follow-up orthopedic appointment. The doctor diagnosed me with a severe sprain (but no tearing, I’m glad to say!) of my triceps and forearm muscles. I have to ween off of my sling, start using a compression brace for my elbow, then ween off of that, and I should hopefully be right as rain in two to three weeks.

Oh, and my comfy chair in the living room broke. Just so life could get another laugh, but, hey, that’s just victimization. Though, I did come up with a neat little metaphor for why I could handle the infection rather well, but, after my arm injury, I fell into another depressive episode. It’s like life throws a bowling ball at us. And we just manage to catch it. Then it throws another one. We’re already holding one bowling ball, so we can’t catch another, so it hits us. That hurts. It hurts so much that we drop the bowling ball we’re holding. Onto our toes. Which also hurts.

And then our comfy chair breaks.

Now, rationally, I think I got off easy. Two possible surgeries avoided. Nothing life-threatening. My world wasn’t ending. Though, my depression definitely told me that it was. I’m feeling much better now; though, now I have to figure out financial aid and insurance stuff, which isn’t fun, but I’ll manage.