Kage Baker used to complain when I got sick. Not the mere fact of my getting sick – I was healthier than she was by a long shot, until she contracted something fatal. Kage was actually pretty sympathetic to my ailments. She had a lot more ordinary maladies than I ever did.
That was the source of her complaint. When I did get ill, it was often something weird. It was bizarre in this information age of modern medicine, out of proportion to the number of times I fell victim. She said she was so very tired of my coming home with bizarre diagnoses.
It was a fair complaint, and one made both then and since by other friends: usually the ones who have had to support me off Faire sites, or take me to the hospital. I’ve had two monographs written up about me. I don’t think I am as bad as some folks, but I have defied odds, norms and medical opinions several times.
As I’ve mentioned, I was born with a tumour over one eye: but it wasn’t my fault, I was exposed to fallout in utero from an atomic test. (What, is that not normal?) I managed to develop gall stones at age 30 – much too young, according to the literature – as a side effect of dysentery. I caught a weird skin disease from a mulberry tree, and another from contact with titanium tetra chloride. My late right kidney raised repetitive hell for half a century before it was finally evicted, without ever quite failing.
I developed a rare cancer a year after Kage died of an even rarer one. I was diagnosed with a bizarre blood infection called klebsiella – which has since become an iatrogenic plague in hospitals, but that no one at Cedars Sinai had heard when when I caught it. Through all this, my immune system – which I appear to have inherited from ancient Celtic heroes – has functioned to defeat most normal infections. It has to be coshed over the head and shanghaied, apparently, before a doctor can figure out what is wrong with me.
So, I have this pain in my leg. No clots, no blocked veins, no aliens hatching in my blood stream (I did consider that …); no torn muscles, no water on the knee: despite the frivolous opinion of my cardiologist’s assistant. No enemy of mine sticking pins in a dolly somewhere.
No, what I have is: a Baker’s Cyst!
What, you may ask – as I certainly did – is a Baker’s Cyst? Well, it’s a cyst, a kind of organic water balloon filled with synovial fluid from behind the knee-cap. It is caused by standing up a lot, so it was initially named after bakers: who do most of their work standing at a work table. Now, I have not stood up a great deal in several years. In fact, I have been markedly sessile; but prior to that, I used to spend quite a lot of time on my feet behind a bar, serving beer. So maybe in my case it’s a long-delayed Bartender’s Cyst?
I neither know or care. What I have learned is that it’s common, evidently outside the purview of a cardiologist, well-known to my GP, and easy to treat. I might get cortisone. I might have surgery to remove the cyst entire. Or they might just stick a needle in me and drain the nasty thing.
Who cares? It’s easy and treatable, and soon it will be gone. I’m being referred to an orthopedist, because I guess mucking about in a knee joint requires some skeletal expertise. Until then, I just have to stay off my feet a lot and favour the left leg. I can do that, as they say, standing on my head … if I could stand on my head. Which I can’t. But I can sure as hell stay sitting down.
In all events, I am content, with a diagnosis that is simple to handle. Kage would be rolling her eyes again (“You have a what?”) but she, too, would be pleased it’s something that can be fixed. Kimberly is pleased, especially since she had to bully me into going today – I was sure my complaint would be dismissed out of hand, and it was raining like hell besides.
But no! My pain is real, there is a cause, it’s not that weird, and it will soon be fixed. And there, Dear Readers, am I happy.