“I’d recommend that you not go to Burning Man,” Dr. V. of the Medford Medical Clinic had urged. Since I was facing acute kidney failure, we had complied… reluctantly.
The tickets had cost $700.
More importantly, Bone and Bonetta were getting married. Ever since Bonetta rescued Bone from a bone-eating alligator in a Florida swamp last fall, the two have been inseparable companions.
Burning Man was the perfect place for their wedding. Several members of the International Society of the Bone would be present including Tom Lovering. (Tom and I had ‘discovered’ Bone hiding out in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1977 and launched him on his worldwide travels.)
The retired Judge Don of the Horse-Bone Tribe was prepared to officiate. Punkin Beth, owner of B&L Bike Shop in Davis, offered to make Bonetta’s wedding dress. Bone would wear his finest kilt, made for him by Ann Baughman of Kansas. Eeyore the donkey was to serve as Best Man. Peggy and I were taking care of the Champaign and cake. It promised to be quite the wedding.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Bone and Bonetta were depending on us to take them to Burning Man. The nuptials would have to be postponed to a future date.
Peggy put our tickets on the Medford Craig’s list and offered them for $600. Within ten minutes Miss Blossom called wanting the tickets. She had just returned from a Hemp Festival and had more or less accepted she would miss Burning Man. Our tickets showing up on Craig’s list at a bargain rate was a message from the forest spirits… she was meant to go in our place.
By Friday morning we were glad she did. I woke up with a blood pressure of 206/112. “You need to come in immediately,” the Medford Medical Clinic directed.
Dr. M met with me. Dr. V had taken me off of my old blood pressure medicine because of its impact on my kidneys. Dr. M put me on a new one. “You will need to monitor its impact,” he warned.
We live in a world of designer based drugs where the negative side effects often outweigh the positive benefits. It’s in the fine print.
Drug companies don’t want us to read the “Oh, by the way, this drug may kill you.” It’s couched between glowing recommendations on their TV ads. Without government regulations and the fear of lawsuits, it wouldn’t be there at all. Billions are spent working to convince us that brand name drugs costing big bucks will make us happy, healthy and sexy. “Ask your doctor,” the ads recommend.
Drug reps then pummel physicians with goodies to ensure sure they make the right recommendations. Sadly, many doctors succumb to the wining and dining. But not Dr. M.
“I saw Dr. M run a drug rep out of his office,” one of the nurses confided in me. “Why should I prescribe your expensive brand name drug to my patients, when the much less expensive generic drug works equally as well,” the good doctor had said
The man deserves a medal.
I had more on my mind than high blood pressure, however. My urinary system was shutting down. This had happened to me once before when I came off of the 360-mile backpack trek from Lake Tahoe to Mt. Whitney I did to celebrate my 60th birthday. It was scary.
Dr. M pulled up the ultra-sounds the technician had done of my bladder on Monday. A look of irritation crossed his face. “This should have been caught.” You’ve probably heard the statement ‘full of piss and vinegar.’ Well I was full of the former.
“It may be the cause of both your kidney problem and high blood pressure,” the doctor noted and then drew me a diagram. Sung to the tune of the old bone song, “The kidneys are connected to the bladder, the bladder is connected to the prostate, and they’re all connected to the…” well, you get the picture. Apparently the logjam ran all the way to my kidneys.
Doctors have a solution. I won’t go into the details other than to say it involves a long rubber tube and I am convinced spymasters could use it to get whatever confessions they need. “Not only did I do it sir, but here are the names, addresses and phone numbers of every one who helped me.”
Let’s say I had a draining experience and leave it at that.
“Wow, that’s impressive,” the nurse said as I filled my second liter container and started working on the third. I had more pee in reserve than he had ever seen.
“Wow, that’s impressive,” Dr. M confirmed when he came in. He wanted me to ask the urologist if I had set some kind record.
“I prefer to impress people in other ways,” I primly told both of them. I am sure by the time I left everyone in the clinic knew about my performance. So much for patient confidentiality.
So the saga continues. I have at least resolved the issue of acute kidney failure. They are back to normal. I will keep you posted… not so much because I want to write about my health, but more so because I want to use my experience as a platform to editorialize on our medical care delivery system. In case you haven’t noted, it needs help.
Next I want to turn to the second big event my health forced me to miss: the 50th Reunion of my high school class and the world of teenage angst.