Thursday, May 14, 2009

Immuno Boy & the Attack of the Silicone Finger

I pride myself for having a pretty rock solid immune system. My friend Allyson in Troy called me "Immuno Boy" for years. Seriously... I very, very seldom get sick. Now, like most people, I do have headaches from time to time, but the times that I'm prevented from at least getting done what I need to get done at an acceptable level are slim to never. I get a headache, I'll work through it, or if I can, I'll just go to bed early. Wake up later, viola! I'm good. Sometimes I will just throw up. Puke my guts out. Then I'm all better. Anyone else have this phenomenon happen to them?

Anyway, the times I'm forced to go to the doctor are seriously few and far between... in 8th grade, I ran too hard into a wall, also known as Daniel Stephenson, when trying to rush the passer in P.E... he stood tall, I bounced and hit the ground hard, broke my right arm (which is kinda good, because it taught me how to write legibly with my left hand, a talent I still possess). He stood me up, told me I was alright, meanwhile I'm crying cause my arm in bent in an unnatural position.

In 1996, I fell asleep and hit the broadside of a telephone pole with my 1990 Buick Century. Then my face hit the broadside of the steering wheel. Take your index finger and place it right in that little soft spot where your upper lip meets the mid nostril dividing section of your nose. That's exactly where I struck the top part of the steering wheel. Later, when I saw the car in the junkyard, I marveled at how cool the blood spatter looked across the windshield. Two stitches in the left nostril--IN, not around--two in the middle and two in the right.

In 2003, I had a terrible cold and a bad sore throat. Worked my day job at the radio station, then went to Starbucks feeling miserable. Finally called in the next day and visited a doc-in-the-box, found out I had strep throat.

In 2005, I had to go to the doctor for a full physical, having not had one in... 17 years? I had to have one when I was 13 to go to Camp Ala-Flo, the Boy Scout camp, but not since. But I was headed to a NYC mission trip, so off to the doctor I went. It was my first ever "drop trou" check up. Let's talk uncomfortable. I know the doctor.

In 2007, my right arm was feeling pretty miserable, stinging pain, hurt to twist it sometimes, so on and so forth. Took a check up, found out it was tendinitis. Had to wear a brace for three weeks, which majorly got in the way when I was pulling shots for lattes, and got pretty sticky when I was pumping syrup. More than once the end of the pump got caught between my brace and my wrist, and I had vanilla syrup pumped down my arm.

That list seems like alot, really... but when you consider in my entire life, that's the only medical maladies I can even recall, I think that's pretty good... especially considering I don't take all the precautions that society tells us we should take..

Or maybe, that's pretty good BECAUSE I don't take all the precautions that society tells us we should take. I, for one, love being barefoot and spent much of my childhood doing so. When I was a kid, I ate dirt. I've eaten a Milkbone dog biscuit. Snot, poop, blood and other fluidy type things don't bother me. I've worked with middle schoolers for almost 10 years, and we can all attest to the hygiene proficiency of your typical 7th grade boy.

Point is, I have a pretty good immune system built up over the years... The Lovely Steph Leann swears up and down that our daughter Lorelei and our son Camp will not go barefoot in our yard, and I'm pretty adamant that they probably will. The Lovely Steph Leann swears up and down that children won't get dirty, play in the mud or the rain or the creek or whatever, and I am pretty adamant that not only will they, I'll probably be there with them. Of course, if Lorelei takes after her mom, she'll be such a princess girly girl that the thought of "outside" might make her run in terror, but this is what builds your immune system. When we were in The Happiest Place on Earth in February, the same stomach virus that took my wife out of commission for 48 hours got me for about, I dunno, 8.

And I do not, let me repeat, DO NOT ever, ever, ever, ever use hand sanitizer unless its a real, real emergency. That gel stuff that dissolves on your hands, like washing your hands, but you know, without water. I think the fact this stuff can be found in every household, every kitchen and every desk of anyone who has a slight fear of a single germ is the reason that Swine Flu Mania has gripped our country. Every one's immune system is shot. Heck, The Lovely Steph Leann is sniffly and wheezy at least three times per year.

Another aside... I've been biting my nails since I was like, five. I tried to fight it, I tried to stop it, I used that fingernail stuff that tastes terrible, but that stopped when--and I vividly remember this--I had a hair in my mouth one day. A random hair in your mouth is maddening, as its so thin and hard to find, but almost impossible to swallow or spit out, so what do you to? You go after it. And I did. After a few minutes of tasting this terrible, awful, disgusting anti-nail biting crap on my fingers, I did away with the hair. And the terrible, awful, disgusting anti-nail biting crap.

Sometimes, I bite my nails too far down. Every now and then, it will pull a little at the edge of my fingertips, and draw a little blood. It happens. I shrug it off, knowing this is what I signed up for when I decided to stop trying to stop biting my fingernails. Even less every now and then, it will come too close to the edge of the fingernail. It will be sore for a day, then develop a little "pus pocket" of which I'll stick with a pin, a nail, my teeth, a box cutter, a pencil tip or anything else sharp I have handy--it'll ooze out green and be fine. Like I said, immune system rocks.

SIDEBAR: "PUS" is like the words "Arraignment" and "Chafe". There is not a good use of this word, and when its used in the sentence, I'm not sure its ever in a positive light.

Now, to the actual story that I'm telling, after all the back story...

Imagine my surprise when last Thursday, my index finger on my right hand was a little swollen. I don't necessarily remember biting this nail anytime recently, but it could have happened. On Friday, it was even more swollen, looking kind of icky. I pushed it a little, poked it a little, expecting to see the green ooze of pus coming out, and it didn't. Saturday, it was still icky. And bigger.

Sunday night, The Lovely Steph Leann and I are enjoying salads at Jason's Deli, and she stops me from eating. "What is wrong with your finger?" I looked down, realizing it was still swollen and pretty sore, and I just casually mentioned that I might have bitten it down too far days ago, and that it would go away. Then she pulled out the words that husbands just don't want to hear... "Honey, you need to go to the doctor."

"Really," I replied. "It'll go away."
"How long has it been like that?"
"I dunno, a few days."
"And it hasn't healed? You need to go to the doctor tomorrow. That's infected. You don't want that infection to get into your bloodstream."
And the rest of the night was filled with me making Swine Flu, Lyme Disease, finger & arm amputation jokes, and her smacking me and telling me that that isn't funny. (it is).

I go into The Happiest Place in the Mall on Monday, tell my Magical Manager whats going on (she knew about the swollen finger, having commented on it already) and that I had an appointment later that morning. Turns out that, yes, it was infected.

Doc put a cold freeze on it, which hurt, but didn't hurt nearly as bad as when he used a needle to go straight into the swollen area, right where the nail meets the skin, to lance it and bleed it out. And bleed is what it did. Like an almost empty tube of toothpaste, he ran his fingers up my index finger, squeezing out what would come out. I felt my finger giving birth. I have this uber-powerful ointment I put on it several times per day, a prescription ointment stronger than Neosporin. (MZ has already told me she wants it for her children when I'm done)

Oh, but there's more... my medical dysfunctions continue...

So, the next day I have an eye appointment. My contacts have really, really been bothering me for a month now. I just got this new brand, Acuvue Oasys, which is supposed to be revolutionary in comfort and vision and such. Whatever, I just wanted contacts.

A few days after I put them in, I noticed that even though my left eye was fine, my right eye was blurry. On the fourth day of having them in, they started irritating the heck out of me, and I had to yank out the right contact. Take out the right, gotta take out the left, to start with a fresh pair. Its like how they recommend getting all four tires at the same time.

Wore my glasses a few days, then went back to the contacts, a fresh pair. I checked my contacts to make sure the right one was going in right eye, left one to left eye, and sure enough, Right is -3.75, left is -3.25, so that was correct. Looked carefully to make sure they weren't inside out, and they weren't. Still, same situation... two days of good vision, then on Day Three, blurriness, and on Day Four, irritation and removal. Called the eye doctor, who didn't call me back. Went in there, and they told me it might just be a bad box. They gave me two new sets, told me to try them out.

Two days of good vision. Day Three, blurry. Day Four, had to pull them out... only this time, the left eye was joining in the festivities of wrecking d$'s vision. Finally, I made another appointment. I tried putting my contacts in again once more, and the same situation happened. All in all, I went through six pairs of contacts in a three & half week span. Not normal.

Now, I'm not adverse to wearing glasses, I don't mind it... for a while. However, I like being able to run or play tennis, and glasses hinder that, and if I go swimming, I can't see out of the pool, and you can't see anything when you wake up, and in the summer, I like my sunglasses, which my glasses get in the way of that too... but on Tuesday, I strode in, wearing my glasses, for my eye appointment, about 6 weeks after my last appointment.

Doctor came in, did the exam and lifted my eyelid. Its never a good thing when your doctor sighs, says, "This isn't good", and then grabs a picture to show you whats wrong.

"You have silicone deposits in your eyelids"


"Johnson & Johnson, makers of Acuvue Oasys, and even Bausch & Lomb's brands have started putting silicone in their contacts. They won't admit it, but we all know this is whats happening. People are developing allergies to the silicone, and after a day or so, the contact becomes unwearable and irritating to the eyes, and its dangerous after a long period of time." She pulls out a picture, points to the normal looking eye lid and says, "See, this is what a normal looking eyelid looks like." Then she points to the one on the other side of the row, one that looks all red and weird and gross, and says, "This is what an eyelid that has a silicone allergy looks like."

Remember those pictures they showed you in 8th grade of a lung that had been in a smoker's body, or a someone's mouth that used dip, and the smoker or dipper in the classroom felt all awkward and weird? I felt like that smoker dipper just then. Especially when I asked, "Does mine look like this?" and she smiled weakly and said, "No, yours is off the charts. We've got to get that silicone out of your eyes."

So, now, not only do I have an allergy to silicone, which means I can NEVER have breast implants, I also cannot wear contacts for at least two weeks. I have another appointment in a few weeks, where she'll check my eyes to see if its gone, and if its not, then I have to go another few weeks without wearing contacts. When its all gone, though, they'll replace all of my contacts with a different kind, which is good.

I have two bottles of eye drops, one I used twice per day, the other four times per day... the latter is weird, as when I drop it in my eye, everything is foggy and gray. Almost like putting milk in your eye. And when it drips out of my eye, it looks like the android from Alien.

On top of that, I have these sulfur based antibiotic pills I'm taking for my finger infection, in addition to putting ointment on my hand three times per day. I am like that old guy who has to "go take his pills". Wait... I AM that old guy who has to "go take his pills".

But my immune system rolls on.


  1. Welcome to your 30s. I never got sick either. In fact, my mother would occasionally let me stay at home from school because she felt sorry for me that I never had sick days like my sisters.

    Then 33, I herniated a disc in my neck and had surgery and it's been downhill from there!

  2. Hmm, we have almost the exact same level of blindness. Sucks, doesn't it?

    I'm a barefoot kind of person myself and a periodic nailbiter ... and not too big on germs ... but, believe me, when you have kids, you'll suddenly become a fan of Germ-X. I never had a thought about it before, but when the boys were born, it was like my eyes were instantly opened to the complete nastiness of places like Wal-Mart. And the thought of Billy Bob's feces bacteria multiplying on your precious one's little hands will have you reaching for that gel as soon as you get them in the car!

  3. After reading of your medical maladies (varied as they've been), I was just little disappointed that there was no mention of one of those little single finger glove things. We had them when I worked in a restaurant for any finger cuts that you got or came in with - covers them right up like an individual rubber glove.

    Sorry that you're officially an old man with pills and glasses. ;)

  4. Ah the great phone pole incident. That was a fun day for me buddy.

    All these maladies lately. Franklly dude, you're getting old (Sean Hall old)and falling apart. Then again, I am older than you so that must make me really old.

  5. I am so very disappointed to hear that you will NEVER be able to have breast implants. What in the world are you going to do after you have children and everything goes south?

    My immune system is weaker than a third world country so I laughed when I counted your lifetime of doctors appointments and well they were less than my total for the past 2 weeks. *sigh*

    Hope your finger gets better soon because if I ever have to read about your "pus" again... oh dear heaven...

  6. Well, I have just learned so much more about you by reading this post. And to think I sat across from you all night at dinner and never knew about this oozing stuff from your finger. Nice!!

  7. Really, I don't go to the doctor that much with what I'd term "real sickness." Yeah, I had the stomach flu in Disney, but the last time I had something like that was over 20 years ago. And, you continued to suffer small bouts of it the rest of the week--let's not forget that, dear.


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