Friday, September 13, 2019


Word of the day: "furuncle."

No, it's not a term for a gay uncle who happens to be a bear or otter. It's actually the medical term for an underarm boil. I learned this in my continuing quest to endure each biblical plague, one by one.

When more than one boil merges under the skin, it's called a "carbuncle." I always thought the word carbuncle referred to a large red gemstone. Doctors are so poetic.

As I wrote in my previous blog post, I've been in an amazingly good mood this month. Even the boils weren't bothering me. 

On the other hand, the article I read on the internet said I should seek medical attention if my boil reached the size of a ping pong ball. I still was't in a rush, because the author wasn’t clear about whether I should measure an individual furuncle, or the whole carbuncle.

Then last week my daughter Eleanor became convinced she had a gaping wound that required plastic surgery. To humour her, and because boils were beginning to spread all the way down my side, we decided to visit Dr. Practical at the same-day clinic together.

This was my first joint medical appointment with my daughter. The nurses loved our witty banter, and said we should go on the road as a comedy duo.

I’m not accusing anyone of being a hypochondriac. But guess who got another round of industrial-strength antibiotics, and who got a pat on the head and sent back to school?

My daughter's favourite TV show is Grey's Anatomy. She's binged watched all fifteen seasons. Multiple times. Eleanor is also very succeptible to suggestion. So her mind and body keep leading us back to Dr. Practical's walk-in clinic.

Nevertheless, even a stopped clock is right once or twice a day. For example, several years ago, Eleanor was helicoptered from Whidbey Island General Hospital to Seattle Children's Medical Center, where they treated her for a nasty bacterial pneumonia that had attacked without warning.

While we were at the clinic last week, Dr. Practical said my furuncles probably came from an ordinary bacterial infection that was taking advantage of my stress-weakened immune system. She squeezed some blood out of one of the larger boils and sent it off to the lab, just in case. I dropped Eleanor off at school, then picked up my prescription of Bactrim from Rite-Aid. 

After a few days, the furuncles and carbuncles weren’t getting any bigger. But they weren’t going away, either.

Then I got a call from a nurse at the clinic. She said the lab results from my tissue sample came back, and my bacterial infection actually is the superbug MRSA – "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus." Of course. So I went to Rite-Aid and picked up some amazing new antibiotic I hadn’t even heard of. 

My parents say I should stop taking everything so personally. In the Bible, Job’s parents said the same thing to him, too.

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