Or, Life in a
Urinary Tract
Vacation Home
Part II
There is something ... a certain sensitivity training, perhaps ... that I would hope they would offer to third-year students at our great medical schools. It would be, specifically, that there are things you don't say when you are poking about in the most sensitive, vulnerable, private areas of your patients.

One would be, "Wow!"

Another would be, "Oh God!"

Feelgood, I can guarantee you, had not taken such training. Nor was he in a position to see my face when he added, "I've never seen one this big before!" I assure you, he wasn't talking about what the producers of Debbie Does Dallas would call my endowment.

When I finally got out of there, past the Antherium lilies, out into the street ... back into my own life over the next few weeks, I found that this bladder-pump doctor had given me three presents.

The first was a prescription for pills that may well have been minted of gold, silver and ground diamond. At ten dollars a pop, I was to take them twice a day, for the next thirty days. If I didn't mind going on relief in the interim.

The second was his thought that I and my prostate stones should consider an operation, a fairly complex operation, that, barring my winning a poker hand at Binyon's, would force me to move down to Broadway to take up with my peers, the many bagmen and bagladies who live down there, even as we speak.

The third gift --- one that did not turn up until I retreated to my $50/month winter rent-a-trailer three thousand miles south of the border --- was a UTI, also known as a "Urinary Tract Infection." A gift, I do believe, of Dr. Feelgood's old and much-abused garden hose.

Miles and miles from home, and here I am with one of those home-grown infections of which Americans are getting to be so fond, one that cannot be treated with any of the old-school antibiotics like penicillin or ampicillin or tetracycline; one of those new infections, one that could not be easily defeated ... as my wintertime vacation-home doctor, Don Juan Feliz-Verga, carefully explained to me.

Thus, shortly after arriving in paradise, I was faced with the intractable question: should I abort my long-anticipated stay at my pacific winter pied--terre? Or should I tough it out, using native cure-alls, praying to the gods not to send in any additional problems in the form of kidney infarction or out-and-out thrombosis, any or all of which would terminate my visit (not to say my life).

§     §     §

You and I learn, early on, that there are some things that will merely scare us to death while there are others that will kill us. Part of our self-education over the years ("pay attention to your body") is that the sooner we learn the difference, the easier our lives will be. Dr. Feliz-Verga assured me, perhaps wrongly, that I could live with whatever it was I had as long as I didn't develop blistering fevers or convulsions.

Meanwhile, he would stand by. He prescribed that old faithful cure-all --- Zithromax: 500 mg the first day, 250 mg for the next four days --- and an herbal tea.

The tea had to be boiled up daily and sipped morning and evening for three weeks. It consisted of

Cola de caballo
Pelo de Elote
Hojas de Guayaba


The first three I was able to figure out with the help of my Cassell's. Horse-tail. Corn-silk. Leaves of the guayaba tree.

The last had me stumped. Dried penguin? I knew I was living in Paradise, but had they been raising an off-brand version of the birds of the Antarctic in a nearby animal park?

No, no, the good doctor assured me. Penguica was a local tree. The seeds were to be boiled up with the leaves of guayaba, the silk of corn and the hairs of tail. Real horse tail? Real horse tail, he assured me.

I had Juana my part-time maid pick up these ingredients at our local herb store and boil them up for an hour or so with two liters of spring water. She delivered the concoction to me in the beer-mug I normally use for my daily margarita treatment.

The dark liquid turned out to be, and here I am trying to be discreet, industrial-strength spawn of frog-wort.

Of all the miserable, rat-drop concoctions one could come up with, this so-called "tea" took the cake. No sooner was it down than it wanted to come right back up again.

But I closed my eyes (and held my nose, and shut my mouth), and hung on ... and damned if it didn't do the trick. Within a day, my UTI went into remission. Within a week I was feeling fit as a fiddle.

Oh the infection is still there, sort of. And I know that if I start to show any of the symptoms that Dr. Feliz-Verga told me to watch out for, I am out of here on the next crop-duster. But for the three months since I started drinking this heady brew, I have stayed on here in paradise, occasionally topping off my day with another cup of noxious herbs.

Between margaritas, of course.

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Part I

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This article first appeared in
New Mobility Magazine