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Ask Dr. Gott 3/10

Decade-long illness might be staph infection

DEAR DR. GOTT: This might be a strange letter, but I'm looking for a doctor who might be able to help me with a medical problem dating back some eight or 10 years. My husband and I went to Tucson to visit one of our daughters. Toward the end of the first week, I started to get chills. That developed into shaking I couldn't control. Next, I ran a fever of 102.5 F and had to vomit. My daughter took me to a clinic nearby, and I was told I just had a bad case of the flu and to go home, go to bed and drink plenty of water, which I did. The next day, after a bad night, I developed bad aches and pains that lasted 12 hours. I took only Tylenol for the pain, and it eased them somewhat. Each day I seemed a little better, and by the end of the week we were able to fly home.
    Since that time, I've had 30 attacks — one that I'm finally recovering from. No one else has caught it from me in all these years. Now, I have to tell you my legs get fiery red and hot. Also, my urine changes from normal color to a deep orange color. It takes almost a week until I'm myself again.
    I've had vulva cancer. The surgeon removed all my "female things" and all the lymph glands in my groin. My legs have always swelled, but in the last six weeks or so, they are so much worse, and this may have led up to this attack. I take a water pill, Diovan and Lipitor (all small doses). I've been to a doctor and even to Cleveland clinic. They all say to "live with it." I have so many bad pains that the doctor I have now is allowing me to use fentanyl pain patches, and it does help me a lot. I'd much rather use something else other than these patches.
    DEAR READER: The pattern you describe (recurring attacks of fever, chills and orange urine) suggest to me that you may have a staph infection in your urinary tract. If not brought under control, this could lead to very dangerous consequences, including internal abscesses and kidney failure.
    If you have not had a urine culture to identify bacteria in your urine, you should. Also, abdominal and pelvic scanning to look for infection or stones would be appropriate, as would a blood culture. Finally, if you haven't been examined by a urologist, I recommend that as a next step. Get medical attention now; don't wait for another attack.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Bladder and Urinary Tract Infections." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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