A Most Receptive Receptionist

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 4, 2020

I suffer from recurring bouts of erysipelas and have had it twelve times for the past nine years. Each time, I amass a lot of fluids in my body and gain twenty to twenty-five kilograms in a couple of days, which is great fun. I then work hard to shed the unwanted weight and drop back to the original weight, only to get erysipelas again. It’s rather draining mentally.

The first time I got sick, I didn’t understand what was happening. My legs were so filled with fluid that they stopped working, and it took me four hours to drag myself from the living room out to the phone in the hallway to call for an ambulance. I ended up spending four months isolated in the hospital, and I lost all skin on my right leg, from the hip and all the way down to under my feet and around my toes. Instead, green gunk gushed out from the open wound.

It took me six months before I could walk again and I became a “frequent flyer” at my local health clinic during this time, when I also battled cancer.

About eighteen months ago, it was my best friend’s birthday and I was looking forward to visiting her. When I woke up that morning, I felt unwell, but since I had called out sick the two previous times we were supposed to meet, I didn’t want to disappoint her again. She picked me up, we went to her home, and she gushed over her gifts as I started shaking more and more violently. I fell off my chair as I couldn’t stop shuddering. My friend got this huge blanket and wrapped me in it, but I couldn’t speak as I was shaking too much. She dragged me out to her car and drove me home, where I called the health clinic.

I knew from the shaking and the state of my leg that I had erysipelas again.

I was informed by an automated message that they had filled their daily quota for walk-ins, but I was welcome to try again the next day. I knew it was erysipelas but it also felt different as it was progressing much faster than normal.

I called the national health helpline and talked to a rather snotty lady. She told me to call an ambulance right away.

I refused, as I had had erysipelas eleven times before. I knew that I just needed antibiotics and I would get better in a few days — no need for an ambulance or clogging up the emergency room with something unimportant.

So, barely conscious and shaking violently, I went out into the kitchen and made schnitzels. After all, it was what I had planned to cook that day. They were delicious, but… it was not the most logical action. I was rather delirious, though, which might excuse my lack of logical thinking.

I then called the health clinic again and spoke to the receptionist. I knew I would only need a five-minute appointment to come in, show my glaringly red leg, and get a prescription for antibiotics. Could they possibly squeeze me in?

“Yes, if you can get here at 12:45, we can fit you in.”

“Great! I’ll take the bus in ten minutes, at 12:20. See you!”

By now, my legs were swollen, filled with fluid, and horribly infected, and it was difficult to lift my feet. I used my distance walking sticks as crutches to stumble to the bus stop.

It’s only a three-minute bus ride to the health clinic. 

When I entered the health clinic, the reception was deserted. A woman was seated in the waiting area but not waiting for the receptionist; I don’t know if she was the companion of another patient or waiting for her ride home. I sat down by the receptionist with my identification ready and more or less lost consciousness. I was shaking so badly. After a while, the receptionist returned. I was too ill to notice, but the other woman went up for me.

“You have to see her immediately!” the woman told the receptionist. “She’s really sick.”

She handed over my ID and my wallet to the receptionist, who ran me through the computer, and together they managed to shake some life into me and I managed to hop on my own to the waiting room.

My leg hurt so badly that I couldn’t sit properly, and I had to place it on the table. It was pretty disgusting, but the leg hurt so bad.

The nurse came over and said, “Hi, [My Name]! Oh, my! Wait here!”

She rushed over to the doctor’s office; I could hear her urge him to come out right away.

“Hi, [My Name],” the doctor said. “Wow, you have erysipelas. When did it start?”

“Two hours ago,” I said.

“Two hours? No, that can’t be. Can I check your arm?”

Yeah, of course, he could. I wasn’t going to use it myself, so check away.

“Wait here! There’s no need for any exam or testing.” Off he went for a couple of minutes before he returned, chatting on a cell phone. “It’s urgent! You have to rush!” he begged on the phone. Then, he turned back to me. “Okay, [My Name]. You have erysipelas, which you already know, because you know this disease better than any of us doctors here. But… you’re going into sepsis. In two hours, the sepsis has spread from your calves to your elbows. It’s really, really bad. I’ve called an ambulance.”

The ambulance arrived in less than ten minutes. I was quickly treated at the hospital and made a full recovery.

If the receptionist hadn’t squeezed me in, I would have gone to bed, instead. Considering how fast the sepsis was spreading, the outcome would not have been good. I am eternally grateful for the wonderful treatment I got that day.

Related:
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 3
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 2
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist

1 Thumbs
455