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I spend more time than I ought thinking about dolphin rape.
It started innocently enough. I was having dinner with a co-worker and a shark scientist in Fiji. We were discussing a recent shark bite. The unnamed shark scientist was recalling the time he had been bitten by a shark and admitted, "I'd rather be bitten by a shark than raped by a dolphin."
It turns out dolphins are quite amourus creatures and more than one has been known to well, get up close and personal with a human. Jessica Alba and Jimmy Buffet are reported dolphin rape victims. This discovery has lead to months of laughs, even if dolphin rape is no laughing matter.
The reason I bring this up now is because I now know that I would rather be raped by a dolphin than go through another urinary tract infection. Yeah, so my big medical emergency was a condition that teenage girls get the first time they have sex.
I started not feeling well on my first day in Palau. I had headache, body ache, and my skin was sensitive to the touch, but I just passed it off as jet lag. The second day was no better and the third day was considerably worse. Then on the fourth day I had to pee every fifteen minutes and my urine was noticeably cloudy.
Colds and flus come and go, so I hoped this would, too. But my condition didn't improve on Friday or Saturday. I left for Guam on Sunday, and Sunday was miserable.
Using my limited medical knowledge and Web MD, I self-diagnosed that I had a urinary tract infection. I made an appointment to see a doctor on Monday and bought a gallon of cranberry juice at K-Mart.
The doctor seemed skeptical that I would have a urinary tract infection, seeing as they rarely occur in men. There are a couple of STDs that produce symptoms similar to UTI (thanks, Web MD), and I'm sure the doctor thought I had one of them. The way to differentiate between the two is with a pee test. A person with UTI will have bacteria in their urine; a person with chlamydia won't.
"How did you manage to get this? Were you having anal sex in Palau?"
Um, no. I am an ardent supporter of equal rights for all members of society, but no. Just no.
"Now you know how a urinary tract infection feels."
Yeah, no kidding.
So the doctor prescribed me an antibiotic and scheduled me for some lab work to determine what was living inside my urinary tract. That required me to drive over to the lab, pee in another cup, and wait around for three days to find out exactly what I had. I was supposed to leave for Pohnpei yesterday, but the doctor recommended I not put 2000 miles of open ocean between the nearest modern medical facilities and my bladder. There was a chance the infection could spread or that I had one of those exciting new strains of E. coli that are resistant to antibiotics.
By now it hurt to stand. When I wasn't lying on a bed it felt like someone was sticking a finger into my abdomen. It was more than irritating, but not quite painful. Or maybe I'm just that tough.
That was three days ago. The lab results show that I've got E. coli somewhere in my urinary tract and that it is not the strain that is resistant to anti-biotics. All my symptoms are gone except for the abdominal pain, which is unfortunately incessant.
The doctor has given me the all clear and I'm getting on the next plane to Pohnpei. The campaign to save the world's sharks continues.
I just hope there are no dolphins there.