Daily Archives: March 24, 2006

Quote for the Day

Heard in my house tonight:

“If you’re awake enough to pull the stepstool out from underneath your sister, you’re awake enough to brush your own teeth.”

Truer words were never spoken.

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Adventures in Health Care

So, I woke up yesterday morning – if you can call what I did “waking up” since I really didn’t SLEEP, but rather spent the night bouncing from one hallucination to another and alternately sweating and shaking like a Chihuahua in January, but you get the idea. The first thing I did was call the doctor’s office and begged – literally begged – to be seen right away. The receptionist (I hate her) coolly informed me that she was very sorry (yeah, right) but one o’clock was the soonest I could be seen. Unmoved by my desperate pleas, she logged me in for one and hung up.

I spent the morning on the couch, pretty much recreating the night before and wishing that the earth would stop rotating and thereby end my suffering. My head ached, my body ached, my ears and sinuses hurt and the very idea of swallowing brought with it contemplations of suicide. We’re talking blinding white-hot pain, People. I had to psyche myself up to swallow. It brought up memories of the anticipation of contractions; I was struck with the same “Oh, God, here it comes” feeling then as now. I even went so far as to call the office again around ten to plead for an earlier appointment only to have the receptionist (I hate her) shut me down. I had momentary thoughts of coughing on her when I arrived.

At 12:35, I got myself upright and headed for the car. My husband had thought he’d be able to take me in, but was called to a “lunch meeting” with no lunch and missed me by about 20 minutes. It didn’t matter, though; I probably wasn’t okay to drive, but I didn’t care. If driving meant my salvation, I would have driven to freaking Anchorage.

I checked in at five of one and hallucinated in the office for about fifteen minutes before I was called in – filed under my “you learn something new everyday” heading: fish tanks are fun to watch when you’ve got a 102 degree fever. The nurse finally called my name and I followed her to a room where she took my temperature, pulse and blood pressure, then did a “quick strep” test. This involves a seven inch Q-tip and a little plastic pregnancy test-like contraption. There is nothing fun about having a seven inch Q-tip shoved down a sore throat (as if “sore” were an adequate adjective for this kind of thing). Hell, it’s hard to even OPEN my mouth, never mind sit there, jaws apart, tongue out, saying “ah” while this nurse pokes at the one part of my body I’d gleefully have cut off at that moment. To make it even better, she had to do this THREE TIMES, because she “wasn’t sure” she got a good sample the first two tries. By now, I hated her, too.

The doctor, whom I’ve never met before, came in a few minutes later and started in with all the usual questions. Headache? Yes. Body aches? Yes. Fever? Chills? Yes, yes. Nausea, vomiting? Thank GOD, no, but my kidneys ache. And on and on. She does the usual ear-nose-throat exam, squeezing just a little too hard on my swollen neck, then takes a look at the strep test on the counter which, it seems, isn’t indicating positive. “Huh,” she says, “wait here, I’ll be back.” Sure, whatever.

A few minutes later, she comes back in and says that the quick test isn’t indicating a strong positive, which surprises her given that I’m presenting a classic case. Because of this, she wants to do a lab test. Yippee! Another seven inch Q-tip. Now I can go home happy. So I psyche myself up for another minor torture session and try to pry my jaws apart. Luckily, the doctor is better at this than the nurse and it’s over pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure she managed to dislodge one of the patches on my throat because she was pleased with the sample she got, even saying “Oh, THAT’S a good one.” So happy I could make your day, Lady.

Now comes the part that amused me, even though I was about as far from my sense of humor as I may have ever been. She tells me that she’s going to write me a prescription for the antibiotics right now. “Take this and fill it, but don’t take any today. The office will call you, hopefully tomorrow sometime (she actually said this – hopefully tomorrow sometime. Way to inspire my confidence), to let you know the results of your test. If it’s positive, you can go ahead and start taking the meds. If it’s negative, that means you’ve got something viral and the antibiotics won’t help anyway. Okay?” Of course, I nod here, but all the while I’m thinking, “gee, for a doctor, you’re pretty dumb. Do you think, even for a SECOND, that I’m not going to start the medication the moment I get it in my hot (literally, remember, I’ve got a 102 fever) little hands? How about we do it MY way and I start the medication at the pharmacy counter and I’ll stop when you call to tell me, maybe tomorrow sometime, that it won’t work anyway. How’s that for a plan? Because if I DO have strep – and you think I do despite the behavior of the pregnancy/strep test thingy – then I’ll have suffered for a full day, maybe longer, when I could have been getting better.” Honestly.

So, that’s what I did. I left the office, drove across the mall to the pharmacy, dropped off the prescription and went to the grocery store next door to buy juice and a snack while I waited for the druggist to count out my pills. I took the first dose in my car in the parking lot, chasing it painfully down with some grape juice and a cereal bar because I’d taken in no nourishment all day. When I recovered my sight (remember, blinding, white-hot pain?), I drove home, crashed back on the couch, and remained there until the girls woke me up when they got home.

I’m feeling marginally better today. I managed a little actual sleep last night. I can form coherent sentences, I believe my fever is down, and I am not quite as dizzy as I was yesterday. My throat still really hurts, but I do believe that it hurts a little less than it did last night. I’m going to continue the three-pills-a-day routine until, hopefully today sometime, the office calls to either confirm or deny the diagnosis of strep. Either way, though, I’m winning. If it IS strep, then I’m already almost 24 hours into treatment. If it turns out to be viral, then I must be over the crest of it because I really am feeling a little better. Still not well enough to live a normal life, but no longer wishing for death, either.


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