I had a little medical problem yesterday.
For the most part, I feel fortunate because I do not take any prescriptions on a regular basis, while most of my friends seem to be on all kinds of medications -- for cholesterol, high blood sugar, and who knows what else.
I'm basically healthy, but I do still suffer a few aches and pains. I have a bad knee from an old sports injury and a bad ankle from a car accident I was in when I was a kid. My back acts up occasionally, which I attribute to 30+ years sitting behind a desk. Then sometimes I get a headache -- when I get tired or dehydrated, or when I have a drink.
On Sunday, which was Father's Day, B and I went out to dinner, and we each had a glass of wine. When I know I'm going to have a drink, I take two Advil before I go out, then another two Advil before I go to bed . . . to prevent a headache.
Then yesterday I played a round of golf, and afterwards I felt a little crick in my back. So I took another two Advil.
I guess, between my aches and pains, and then occasionally taking an aspirin because it's suppose to help your heart -- and I've read it may even help prevent cancer -- I pop maybe six Advil and two or three aspirin a week.
So yesterday afternoon, after I got home from golf, and took the Advil, I sat and relaxed for a while watching TV, made myself some iced coffee, then went up to take a shower. I was standing in the shower when I suddenly noticed a big bump in my hand. It hadn't been there ten minutes ago. It was dark colored, almost purple. As big as a golf ball. I felt it, and it wasn't hard. It moved a round a little bit.
I thought of the sci-fi movies where snakes and worms come crawling out of people's skin. It looked like I had a giant slug buried under the skin on the back of my hand.
I thought, maybe I ought to get this checked out. We have a walk-in clinic in our town. I've never been there before, but I figured this might be the time to try it out.
I called them up. Yes, the woman told me, they take Medicare. She said to come right in. Fortunately, they weren't crowded at 6 p.m. on a Monday. A very nice nurse took my pulse and my blood pressure. The doctor came in and examined me. I showed him my hand and explained that it had come up very suddenly.
It didn't take him long to figure it out. He told me a blood vessel had burst in my hand. It's nothing to be concerned about, he said. Did I injure my hand, or hit it against anything?
No, I replied.
Have you taken any aspirin lately?
Yes, I told him. I take an aspirin, probably one every few days. And I use Advil for pain.
Have you taken Advil recently?
Yeah, I took, um . . . four yesterday. And actually, two more today.
That's likely the cause, he said.
Well, I know aspirin thins the blood, I said. Does Advil do that as well?
Oh yeah, he replied. Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Tylenol. They all do.
I see, I acknowledged. But I've been around for 60 years. It's never happened to me before. Why would I suddenly burst a vein?
I can't answer that, he said. What I can tell you is that this is nothing serious. Your body will reabsorb the blood. He suggested that I ice my hand, and then starting tomorrow, put a warm washcloth on the hand, a couple of times a day for a few days.
Then he looked up and down my arms. You have a few other bruises, he said,
pointing to one on the inside of my wrist and another by my elbow. So don't take any aspirin or Advil for a least a week. It takes that long for it to get entirely out of your system.
And so now, in addition to not taking any prescriptions, I'm off the painkillers. Who would have thought? But I guess even mundane medicines like Advil and aspirin have side effects.
The doctor also did a blood test to check my oxygen levels and my clotting factors, just to be sure. He told me to come back if it gets red and painful. It's possible it could get infected, but he didn't think that would happen.
He didn't tell me I could never take aspirin or Advil again. But I got the message: Don't overdo the pills, even if they're as common and mundane as aspirin or Advil.