The Blogiversary contest and subsequent celebration (and yearly host bill!) is finished. The blog will live for another year. There are a few prize boxes sitting on my dining table awaiting delivery to the local PO and one prize bag awaiting a ride over to its new home. I hope to get to these out later today or tomorrow. I’m working from home today, so I’m rather tethered to the laptop. I still want to get around to changing the background color (tired of the gray) and I have a new banner to put up as well.
And now the doctor ordeal.
You may recall that at the very end of August I got sick during a work meeting. I went to the doctor immediately upon arriving home and was sent away with a prescription for azythromycin, an antibiotic and the promise that I’d feel better in four days. I had to block the doc’s escape through the door to even get him to tell me I had bronchitis. This is a diagnosis you could get on a city street corner, since bronchitis just means you’re sick and have a cough. I was not pleased with this lame answer and that he hadn’t done any tests or anything other than write a prescription and kick me out the door. But, I was sick and even though I didn’t think antibiotics were the answer, I also didn’t spend many years in medical school. Over the next week I got much worse and very weak. I had to cancel my work appointments and stay in bed. Feel better in four days – my flabby ASS! Bastard. I made an appointment with a new doctor.
Doctor number two. Right off, Doc2 was clearly uncomfortable with the fact that I was coming to him instead of my first, original doctor. I tried to steer him towards the idea that this was a second opinion request and that got him going a bit. He didn’t do any tests either, but he did listen to my labored breathing, at least. I did have chest noise and I’m damned glad he noted that, although he didn’t bother to write down some of the symptoms I reported to him (don’t you think coughing up blood would be important info?!). He confirmed that severe bronchitis sounded good, that I also had walking pneumonia and that I should be better in a week. He gave me some steroids to help my poor hacking lungs recover from the coughing fits that were suffocating me and some cough suppressants. When I asked him how I would get the crud out of my lungs while taking cough suppressants, he seemed offended and flatly told me I didn’t have to take them. I took that at face value and went on my way. He was many times better than Doc1, after all.
Two weeks later and I was still coughing. The fevers and chills were gone and I could walk around just fine, although I had no energy and felt wimpy all the time. I figured that was to be expected from a lengthy recovery, but I was still having the choking coughing fits. About this time I started getting the bills from Doc1, whose office assured me they were part of my insurance plan. Of course, they were not. I was broke, broken and disillusioned with our medical system. But, Slick was about to kidnap me back to the doctor’s office, so I went on my own at 2.5 weeks after the one week recovery prediction, by him. We’re now at 3.5 weeks sick at this point. Doc2 said, yep it is still bronchitis, sure, although gee, you really shouldn’t be coughing still, but don’t worry you’ll be better in another week and if you’re not, just come back again.
Reasonably, what else to do? I tried to get as much sleep as I could and ate as healthy as a lazy, indulgent person like me can manage. I took some multivitamins and got a bit of sunshine. I tried to regain my energy and strength by working out, but after each short jog, light weight-lifting or ellipticizer session, I was just extra tired and exhausted all the time. Finally, I decided I had to go back to the doctor. Fortunately, I’d just got a spot of money and I went into the appointment knowing that I could afford to demand tests this time. After all, a hacking cough that chokes one for NINE WEEKS is not fucking bronchitis, medical degree or not.
In a brush of fortune, I got a new doctor. Doc3 was an energetic guy. He’d read my file before he came in the room, which already made me think better of him than Doc1 and Doc2. He asked about everything, all the symptoms I had, even the ones not in the file, all my prescriptions, my work and home environment, the illness progression. He was outright interested (he even said “Interesting” a couple times while we talked) in what was wrong with me. He talked to me about what he thought it wasn’t and why. Then he told me what he wanted to run some blood tests for and why. Then he told me what we’d do if the tests revealed anything and what we would do next if they did not. This is what I wanted nine weeks ago. Thank you! I had some blood drawn just as the nasty blizzard started in Cheyenne.
The next week I called the office to find out the results. My blood revealed that I have mycoplasma pneumonia. Here’s what they look like:
They called in a prescription for azythromycin. It is the same antibiotic I had before, although this time it should actually be useful to take them instead of at the very beginning with Doc1 before I had developed pneumonia. Today is the halfway point of the antibiotics and I must say I do feel a little better. I don’t feel so weak as I had and I do think the coughing is better. I haven’t had another fit of choking for air for a couple days now. I’m still tired and still coughing some, so I’m not 100%, but I’m trying to take it easy and let the drugs help me out. Fortunately, I am working from home this week so I don’t have to fight planes, early meetings and crowds while I recover.
This whole thing has been a big deal for me, largely because I don’t get sick often. Sickness takes me down about once every two years thanks to my bad-assed immune system (which sadly also causes my allergic reactions to harmless things in my life, but what can you do?). I’m bad at being sick. I feel as though my body has betrayed and failed me. I know there is a lack of logic there. What bothered me more was spending money to see health care professionals who don’t give a rat’s ass about answering your concerns. It made me feel sort of helpless. I can read the internet all day, look up ludicrously long medical terms and read lists of symptoms myself, but I don’t have access to actual medical tests and I know I am not qualified to determine my own precise sickness exactly. I know there is a contingent of the medical community that believes people go to doctors at the first sniffle and want attention or gratuitous prescriptions. I also know I am FAR from one of those people. Who in medicine gives a shit about the patient? How can patients be heard, listened to, attended to and actually helped in the correct manner? There are patient advocacy groups and representatives, but let’s face it; if you had to rely on a doc or nurse to help you, you are at their mercy. Sure, it sounds like I’m typing up a hissy fit here, but I only have walking pneumonia. What if I had something less simple or more incapacitating? What if I was never in a situation where I could afford to demand tests (which I didn’t have to do since Doc3 was competent)? What if you were so weak you couldn’t get out of the hospital bed and a nurse decided you were just too fussy to respond to?
Don’t think I’m one of those anti-medicine/anti-health care freaks. I think the medical profession is a somewhat noble calling. My sister is a nurse and I’m proud of her. Through science, medicine has improved and prolonged lives and this is a fact. I do think that it is too easy for people (in ANY profession) to be lackluster at their job, have a bad day or just be simply wrong sometimes. That becomes a problem when your health and life are dependent on the other person who may be having bad day, or bad career. So please, educate yourselves, write down names, check notes, get other opinions and do what you can. Being assertive is different and better than being an asshole and you have to take responsibility for yourself. It is a reminder for you guys as much as for myself.
Also, don’t get sick.