The Story of a Monster U.T.I. and How Nobody Cared
I lay in bed and felt it. I snapped my eyes open. It can’t be! I just peed not even 15 minutes ago!
Reluctantly, I threw the blanket aside and felt my way to the bathroom, careful not to step on my dog.
Five minutes later, I was under the covers again, this time wide awake. I got it. I got a UTI. It was starting.
I glanced at the alarm clock. It was a few minutes after midnight.
“I think I have a UTI.” I whispered in my sleeping husband’s ear. “Can I just drop you off in your class tomorrow and then take the car to the doctor?” I continued, willing him to wake up.
“What?” His sleepy voice mumbled.
“I need the car tomorrow.” I said in a normal voice. “I have to go to the doctor. I think I am getting a UTI.”
“Oh, Christ.” He moaned. “Are you serious?”
“It hurts.” I complained. “I can’t sleep.” I stared where I thought his face was. “I’ll pick you up from class too.” I pleaded.
“That’s fine, whatever, I’ll take the metro home.” He grumbled in his pillow.
I lay back in the bed. The adrenaline was successfully beating the melatonin supplement I took earlier to sleep. I had at least 8 hours left before I would be in the doctor’s office.
I tried to find a comfortable position but no matter how I lay, the overwhelming feeling to go pee kept me awake. It felt like standing in line to the bathroom on St. Patrick’s Day. It felt like I drank a tub of water. I started sweating. My heart beat faster.
Desperate, I reached for my tablet, pulled the blanket over my head so the glow wouldn’t wake my husband up, and searched for any Urgent Care centers that might still be open.
Meanwhile I drank water, secretly hoping I might be able to flush it out, and kept going to the bathroom.
Around 2AM and exhausted, I opted for two Ibuprofens. To my immense relief, they took the edge off the pain and urge to pee and I was able to fall asleep for a few hours.
The next day, at 8:15AM, I stepped off the elevator at my general practitioner’s office. Her practice was on the same floor as my oncologist and I was familiar with almost everyone there. Anticipating the upcoming relief from my torture, I stood by the check-in desk. There was one patient waiting, a man in his 40s, reading a newspaper.
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, I am Dr. P’s patient and I know she isn’t here today but I kind of have an emergency and I thought I could see someone else.” I was referring to the other three doctors in the practice.
The woman behind the counter frowned and looked away from me to her computer screen.
“Hmm, let’s see if we have any…I don’t think we have any appointments available today…” Her voice drifted as she scrolled through her screen.
“Yeah, I know you are probably booked but I am in a lot of pain and I am already a patient here so I thought someone could see me real quick.” I started to feel panic creeping up my toes.
“No, we got nothing today.” She said uninterested and switched her chewing gum from one side of her mouth to another.
“I really need to see someone.” I started feeling the first sting of tears in my eyes.
“You can come back tomorrow at 4.” She said in a flat voice.
“By then I might have a kidney infection.” My voice rose a little.
Her heavy eyelids blinked slowly and she stared at me placidly.
“You can go to the emergency room.” She said.
“And pay like $5,000 for that?” I asked, starting to feel hot from the anger rising up from my torso to my face.
“Well, we can’t just have anyone from the street come in here and be seen.”
“I am not just someone off the street,” I said sternly and leaned on the counter, “I am a patient here, I’ve been here many times.”
“No one will see you today.” She said with a definitive tone in her voice, swiveled her obese body in her chair away from me, and started talking to the other receptionist about something else.
I glanced around the room and caught a glimpse of the man with the newspaper midair, his jaw slack, staring at me.
“Unbelievable.” I said out loud.
I spun around on my heel.
“This is freaking ridiculous.” I marched to the door, slapped it open and stood in the hallway, feeling the tears roll down my face.
I decided to go to my oncologist office on the same floor. Everybody knew me there well. The receptionist there, noting my face and hearing my story frowned, shook her head and picked up the phone.
“Our triage nurse will come out and talk to you.” She said and smiled.
My body quivered with a glimpse of hope. I was taken to a small room with supplies stacked along the walls. I explained my story all over again. The triage nurse, D., looked slightly more sympathetic. Until she started speaking.
“We don’t treat UTIs here in the oncology office. You could go to one of the Urgent Care Centers or to the Emergency Room downstairs.” She stuck her hands in the pockets of her nurse uniform.
“I can’t go to the Emergency Room.” I sobbed. “It’s too expensive.”
No response from her.
“I don’t know where any Urgent Care centers are, I am not from here.” I insisted.
“Well, you can call your insurance company and ask them. They should have a list and help you.” I could tell from the tone of her voice that even she didn’t believe that gem.
“Look”, she said, “I know a UTI is uncomfortable, but we can’t do anything here.”
Uncomfortable!? I wanted to scream. Headache is uncomfortable! This is PAIN!
I sat on the chair and didn’t get up. The nurse sighed.
“I will write down your information and give it to your oncologist, Dr. S.” She pulled out a pen and clicked it open while raising her eyebrows and smacking her lips in disgust over my apparent hysterics.
She then ushered me, not unlike an annoyed bouncer, out of the office.
On the way out, we bumped into my oncologist who was coming down the hallway. She noticed my teary face and said:
“Are you OK?”
“NO!” I shouted and got ready to spill my story to her.
I felt the nurse’s hand dig into my arm.
“Will you give us a minute here?” She bore her eyes into me like Terminator and pushed me out into the waiting room.
I sat there, sniffling. A couple minutes later, the nurse opened the door and nodded for me to come in again.
“OK, Dr. S. will take a urine sample. She will not give you a prescription now. We have to wait for the results so in a couple hours we should have them and then we’ll call you.”
I sucked my tears back into my eyeballs and completed the task flawlessly.
I drove home, calming myself with the images of torture that I wanted to perpetrate on the first receptionist and on the nurse.
A couple hours came and went and no phone call. Five hours after my specimen was taken, I received an electronic notification of the lab results. They clearly showed there was a problem. I waited another half an hour. No phone call.
My hands shaking, I wasn’t sure if because of anger, sadness or pain, I dialed the oncologist’s office number and asked for the triage nurse.
“Oh, Hi, I was just about to call you.”
Yeah, I am sure, I sneered in my head.
She then proceeded to tell me that the doctor called a prescription in to a pharmacy.
“Which one?” I inquired, knowing there are two on my file. One, an hour away, inside the hospital, and one about 5 minutes away from my house.
“F. pharmacy”. The nurse announced. It was the hospital one.
After further discussion, she agreed to try and have the prescription transferred to the pharmacy by my house and call me.
I hung up and cried again. This time because I knew the relief was within my fingertips but yet so far away.
I waited until almost 4 o’clock. Nobody called. I knew the hospital pharmacy closed at 5 so if I wanted to get these pills, I needed to know right away which pharmacy to go to.
I spent the next fifteen minutes calling both pharmacies. It turned out the nurse hadn’t called anywhere yet. I was informed that a prescription transfer can only be done pharmacist to pharmacist so I called the pharmacy by my house asking them to call the hospital pharmacy to get the transfer. The girl on the phone told me she would call and then let me know when the prescription was ready.
Around 4:50PM, in pain, unable to work or do anything else but think about the pain, I called the pharmacy again.
“Oh, I didn’t call yet to get the prescription transferred.” Said the girl cheerily.
I swallowed my tears and said slowly and clearly:
“The other pharmacy closes in 10 minutes. Do you think you can call now and get it transferred?”
I saw my medication glimmering in the distance like a mirage and with every minute disappearing slowly out of sight. It seemed like the UTI knew it and decided to turn up the volume on the pain and the urge to pee.
I waited until almost 5PM and called the hospital pharmacy. To my immense relief they told me they just got off the phone with my pharmacy and transferred the prescription.
Half an hour later, I stood by the counter, waiting for the clerk to bring the bag with the pills. I watched him like a hawk. I watched him like a dog waiting for a bone. I looked like a junkie salivating at her next fix. I leaned on the counter to see better. I could tell he couldn’t find it.
Come on, come on, come on…I pleaded silently.
Finally, he approached with my bag, I signed for it and sped home. It was now close to 6PM and I finally, triumphantly, swallowed my first dose of the antibiotic. My UTI monster screamed in agony and shriveled up in fear. I won.