To clarify, I wasn’t so full of gratitude that it caused my belly button burst. Rather, my belly button exploded, and I am really glad it did.
Yes, it really exploded.
I was innocently typing on my laptop, when I felt an itch on my stomach. Assuming it was a mast cell induced rash, I lifted my shirt and pushed on my abdomen to survey my skin. Just as I noticed a strange bulge in my belly button, IT EXPLODED. “I’ve been shot!” I yelled, but my poodles did not flinch.
I wiped the blood off my forehead, and looked down again to find an inner innie oozing pus. I immediately recalled my recent umbilical hernia diagnosis, which no one explained to me. I thought, “Oh shit, my intestines are coming out my belly button! I’m going to die like they do on Game of Thrones!” One poodle yawned.
Finally, I calmed down and decided it was a small infection related to the belly piercing I had ten years ago. Likely, it wasn’t even mast cell related. How did an infection get under my skin that healed many years ago? I don’t know. I don’t really care. I have exploding body part fatigue.
The only thing that kept bothering me was my late grandpa’s warning, “You know what happens if you unscrew your belly button? Your butt falls off.” So, I decided maybe an antibiotic would be a good idea.
I try to avoid primary care like the plague. If I had the plague, I probably wouldn’t go to primary care. In my experience, primary care is a waste of time, because the doctors tend to ignore my concerns or send me to the ER. For years, I searched for a competent primary care doctor to manage my unique symptoms, but I scared all the smart ones. (The not so smart ones were just annoyed.)
But I went anyway, haunted by the image of my butt falling off. The doctor entered the room and I stated the facts “My belly button exploded. I’m concerned it may be infected and I may need antibiotics. Also, I have mast cell disease.”
She examined my belly and said, “Wow, it really did erupt. Do you have MCAS? I have a patient with MCAS. I’ve learned quite a bit.”
She listed her patient’s MCAS triggers, and I listed mine. I presented her with a list of MCAS friendly antibiotics and we picked one together. She also gave me a prescription for a topical antibiotic to try first in order to further avoid a MCAS reaction.
She let out a deep sigh and said, “I just feel so terrible for anyone dealing with MCAS. Can I keep this list?”
“Yes.” I squeaked like a high school boy asking a girl to prom, “Will you be my primary care doctor?”
They say you’ll find your perfect match when you least expect it. I never expected my belly button to explode, nor to be so grateful it happened. I never considered giving this doctor a second chance.
You see, I saw this same doctor two years ago. She listened and was smart, but she didn’t have the answers. She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I knew intuitively that something else was ravaging my body, but I couldn’t prove it, so I moved on to a new doctor. Two years ago, neither of us had heard of MCAS.
So today I’m feeling hopeful about my health, my diagnosis, and MCAS awareness. My belly button is healing and my mast cells are behaving. And now I have a primary doctor in case my butt falls off.
2022 Update: Five years later, she is still my primary care doctor and has been an essential part of my journey to remission! Want to learn more about how having a long-term relationship with a primary care doctor can help with complex disease? Check out my online course.