Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Three-Thousand Dollar Grapefruit (part 3)

This is the part I've been most hesitant to write about: the actual procedure.

On June 14th, I just did what these guys did. I'm still amazed when I read that page, especially by the guy called Roger, who recommends using a vacuum pump.

That still kinda freaks me out. It'll definitely draw the fluid out more quickly than the "gravity drip" approach the other posters (and I) used. I just don't like it. Don't try it at home, kids (obligatory disclaimer).

Overall, it took about 2 hours. I sterilized everything, wore gloves, and barely noticed the needle (the cold pack was a lot colder this time). Taped it in place and waited.

Two hours, drip drip drip.

Two. Freaking. Liters.

Credit to the ultrasound tech (in Part 2)! Her estimate was on the nose.

I'd read enough to expect the reddish-amber serous fluid that a hydrocele fills up with. I wasn't expecting two liters of it. You go down the soft drinks aisle of any store and you're presented with bottles 4 inches in diameter and a foot long! It just doesn't seem possible.

It's not a permanent fix, though. A month later, I drew another pint.

No one seems to know what causes them. But I've got a theory, based on the last couple of months' medical crap I've gone through. Remember that the price tag on all of this came from getting shuffled to the Emergency Room for high blood pressure (280/150).

For the past ten years, I've been aware of my BP running high, typically in the 180/110 range. I've had some occasional swelling of both legs below the knees, had both knees messed up by fluid accumulating in them, and more recently my right elbow "went out" the same way for several days. It makes sense that excess fluid's got to go somewhere (assuming the excess blood pressure interferes with the kidneys' filtering function), so maybe that's what gave me the hydrocele.

My theory was given a boost when I went to the ER again on July 12. They set me up with IV fluids...and damned if I didn't end up with something bigger than a baseball. It grew pretty steadily on its own until it reached its "normal" humiliating size.

Maybe I'll set up an experiment--empty it out for the third time and see how my medication-enforced lower blood pressure affects things.

[Update (Aug. 25, 2012): the lower blood pressure didn't seem to slow things down. I only bothered draining the thing 4 times in total--once each in June, July, and September 2010 and in January 2011. Each time, it came back. Now I'm just waiting for the Medicaid doctor to get his stuff together so I can get a urology appointment to get this damn thing dealt with once and for all.]

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