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How It All Started - Feb 10-14, 2008

Posted May 07 2009 9:25pm
I reside in Northern Utah, near Snowbasin Ski Resort, about 40 minutes north of Salt Lake City. My employer is a major aerospace corporation, and my job as a process engineer (efficiency "expert") requires frequent travel to wherever problems may be. On this Sunday evening I traveled to Tucson, Arizona - my first visit to this city. I was slated to meet with a large group from several companies to discuss the state of things on their missile program.

I stayed at the local Doubletree Hotel, which looked to have been a pretty nice place in the early 1980s, but had seen better days. The staff were having a "score 10 out of 10" promotion, so everyone was friendly and greeted me, which was nice. After a dinner in the room (a "Double Double" In-N-Out Burger & a Beck's beer), I used the toilet. After finishing urination, I noticed a pink color in the front of the toilet. "That seems odd," I thought, then shrugged it off as weirdness from an older hotel.

The next morning I noticed it again, and determined it was not a stain in the porcelain, but something that came from me, at the end of the urine stream. Blood in the urine. I later learned that the technical term for this is terminal (end of stream) hematuria (blood in urine).

Like most American males my age, I was in average health, not eating the best foods (like dinner the previous night) or exercising enough, and a bit overweight. I am actually about 60 pounds overweight, but on my frame it doesn't look so bad, and many are surprised at that figure - having guessed 20-25. Lucky me. No health issues really, except for gout, which was easily controlled with an inexpensive pill daily. Also, like most guys, all I knew about blood in the urine is that it's supposedly a VERY BAD THING.

I poked and prodded myself pretty well externally, and could find NO PAIN AT ALL. In fact, I felt perfectly fine. How bad could it be if nothing hurts? And I was hungry. So I went to breakfast at the hotel (decent and free as a Gold Hilton guy), and drove to the meeting. I met several new folks and took my place, jacking my laptop into the internet via wireless modem. I mostly paid attention while I covertly Googled my symptoms. There were a few suggested causes, and none of them seemed VERY BAD.

One thing about Tucson, it's in the desert. Very comfortable in February, albeit dusty. Being in the desert, water is scarce, and most (if not all) public urinals are "waterless." Perfectly fine and sanitary, but my condition left a distinct pink streak visible for all to see. Sinks were at least 20 feet away, and no way to transport water over for a quick rinse. So I quickly learned to use the regular toilets for my pee business from that point forward!

Finding nothing useful with my cursory internet search, I called my doctors. I have two doctors - one is close and convenient to work and home, and he is a "pill doctor." You got a condition, he's got a prescription. This doctor is fine for simple things that are well understood. The other doctor is a "Holistic MD" which basically means he wants to understand the whole system and symptoms, and then will prescribe the best treatment program - including drugs if necessary, and he is about 45 minutes away from home in Salt Lake City. This situation clearly called for the second doctor. But he does not work on Mondays, and his partner refused to suggest anything unless I came in. Difficult under the circumstances. I asked if I should go to a local Emergency Room or Urgent Care center. They asked, do you feel OK? I felt fine. They said to go if anything changes. I called the pill doctor and got essentially the same advice. So I called the other doctor's office back and scheduled an appointment for Friday, the next day I would be in town.

In the meantime I amused myself by Googling local Urgent Care centers and comparing them against my benefit provider to see where I would be covered. I found half a dozen and programmed them all into my handheld GPS. Can you tell I love high tech toys? So I was covered if the situation changed. And I still felt fine. I was then pretty successful in being able to pay attention to the meetings the rest of the week.

The terminal hematuria continued each time I urinated for three days. 3.5 days if you count Sunday. On Thursday morning it was gone, and stayed gone. Strange. I opted to skip the meeting and catch an earlier flight home, just in case. No hassles or issues. Seemed a lot like much ado about nothing. Still no pain, discomfort, or anything! How bad could it be?




To read the rest of the story in chronological order, select the small "newer post" link at the lower left of this (and subsequent) blog postings, as illustrated in the picture to the right. You can click on this picture (or ANY photo in the blog) for a larger image!
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