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Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

Good Thing You Had Another Basket To Put Your Eggs In

, , , , , , , | Healthy | November 27, 2021

We keep backyard chickens. One day, we find that our hen Emma has been savagely attacked — we believe by a raccoon — as she was brooding on her nest. Emma is a big chicken; she probably got the injury because she stood her ground and fought the raccoon rather than letting it have her eggs. And since two small Silkie hens have disappeared, presumed dead, we credit Emma with saving the lives of the other two hens that are still safe.

We take our war hero to a vet that we use a lot, not because we like them, but because they are close by, open twenty-four hours, and treat birds. Emma is indignant and unhappy and obviously in a lot of pain, but she is feisty and pretty energetic for a hen with a giant piece of flesh torn out of her backside.

Immediately, I start to see red flags. They warn me that Emma might have to be put down because, if she was bitten by a raccoon, she might have rabies. Chickens get rabies so rarely, I don’t believe it’s ever happened in the US; the CDC claims chickens can’t get it. Because they don’t have saliva, they can’t transmit it if they do get it. Then, they tell me that there is nothing they can do. They can’t stitch her up. They strongly recommend that we put her down because chickens don’t survive injuries like this. They tell me she is “dumpy” — meaning withdrawn and low energy, seen in dying birds but also in ones that are just in a lot of pain — and that she cannot recover from this.

I have seen many chickens die. Emma does not strike me as a dying chicken. My husband and I agree that we cannot leave Emma with this vet. They’re quoting me $1,400 for an overnight stay, which is bad enough, but they’re recommending euthanasia so strongly that they make me sign paperwork saying that I am refusing the recommended treatment against medical advice. We both feel that if the vet there feels so strongly in favor of euthanasia, Emma will not survive the night.

There’s another vet that takes birds forty-five minutes away from my house and they’re not open twenty-four-seven. I demand my bird back. She has had no treatment aside from her wound being washed. They give me antibiotics and painkillers to give her but they have not given her anything for pain or wound treatment themselves. And by the time they finally hand her over, it’s fifty minutes until the other vet closes.

I drive like a bat out of h*** to the other vet and show up minutes before closing. They check her in and take her back immediately for wound care and painkillers. After about half an hour, the vet comes to see me. He wants to do surgery on her in the morning. He says that chickens are one of the toughest birds out there and he’s seen chickens live through worse. And the cost of surgery and an overnight stay is going to be like $350.

Emma has a long and tedious recovery, penned in our house because other chickens will attack a bloody wound. We have to give her antibiotics and painkillers by hand for twenty days, and she has to go back three times for dressing changes and once for an additional surgery, but for a sum total of around $600, I end up with a healthy if cranky chicken whose feathers have grown back so you can’t even see her wound, who is still laying eggs despite the injury to her butt, and who is once again Top Bird in the pecking order around here.

I’m never taking a bird to the first vet again if I can help it.

One Form Fits All

, , , | Healthy | November 23, 2021

I just gave birth, twelve hours ago, to a perfect baby girl. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, between walking and position changes, I managed to twist my knee. I didn’t care at the time; I just wanted to hold my daughter and sleep.

When I wake up in the morning, it’s swollen and painful, so they make arrangements for an X-ray and MRI.

The technician meets me with a wheelchair in my room, where my daughter is sleeping in her bassinet next to my bed. They confirm my name and date of birth and scan my bracelet.

Technician: “Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”

I point at my daughter and laugh.

Me: “Absolutely NONE!”

We Suppose This Might Be Problematic

, , , , | Healthy | November 19, 2021

A particular medication that I’ve needed for a while comes in several forms: injections, suppositories, and oral pills. I’ve been on all three varieties over the past few years. This scene happens as my doctor has just switched me from injections to pills and I go to fill the new prescription at the pharmacy for the first time.

The pharmacist hands me a bottle of what looks like large pills, but I review the instructions on the label before I leave and notice that something seems off, so I go back up to the counter to ask the pharmacist a question.

Me: “Excuse me, but the instructions on this medication say to ‘insert vaginally,’ and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be on the oral form of this medication right now. The bottle you gave me looks like pills, not suppositories, so I’m guessing it’s just mislabeled, but I want to double-check that I got the right thing before I leave.”

The pharmacist answers in a condescending voice.

Pharmacist: “No, this medication is always a suppository. Don’t swallow it; insert it vaginally.”

Me: “But I was just at my doctor’s office yesterday and he told me I’d be getting an oral version of the med now. Right now I’m taking a version of this medication that’s an intramuscular injection, so I know it comes in multiple forms. Also, I’ve been on the suppositories in the past and they didn’t look anything like this. But this is my first time taking the oral version, so I’m not positive what it’s supposed to look like. Are you sure these aren’t pills that I’m supposed to swallow orally?”

Pharmacist: “No, just follow the instructions on the label and call your doctor if you have any questions.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make sense to me, and these really look like pills, not suppositories. Can you please just double-check the prescription before I leave?”

The pharmacist rolls his eyes and snatches the meds out of my hand. He comes back a few minutes later.

Pharmacist: “Your doctor wrote the wrong thing down, but I called and checked and you’re supposed to be on pills, not the suppositories. Here’s the correct medication for you.”

Then, he handed me back the exact same bottle of pills with a different label with instructions to “swallow by mouth”. He never apologized or acknowledged his error in any way.

I simply thanked him and left, but I’m sure glad I pay attention and aren’t afraid to advocate for myself. Even if my doctor did write the wrong instructions on some form, isn’t it supposed to be the pharmacist’s job to catch errors like that? And how could he not tell the difference between pills and suppositories? They look nothing alike!

I still see that pharmacist every time I go to that store. I just hope he hasn’t hurt anyone else by messing up their meds too badly!

Literally Life-Threatening Levels Of Stupidity

, , , | Healthy | November 15, 2021

I work at a hospital switchboard. An emergency services dispatcher has put a caller through who is looking for a patient and insists that they are with us. We have just established that they are not at our hospital.

Me: “I’m sorry, he’s not at this hospital. You need to call back the dispatcher to find out.”

Client: “What’s their number?”

Me: “9-1—”

Client: “Wait! Wait! Let me get a pen. Okay, go.”

Me: “9-1-1.”

Client: “9… 1… 1… Okay. So, do I put my area code in front of that?”

The Anticipation Is Usually Worse Than The Shot

, , , , , | Healthy | November 10, 2021

In Year Eight, all the girls in my school had to have what we called the “cancer jab”, which was administered during school hours. Logically, I knew I needed this jab to vaccinate against something and that not having it would be bad, but emotionally, I was a wreck.

I’d never had a jab without my dad present before, and on the day of the jab, I found out they weren’t using the painkiller cream I was used to. Combined with a rather severe phobia of being “stabbed” by needles — thanks, egg donor — and the rumours going around about the pain and numb arms other students were experiencing, I was not exactly looking forward to my class being called for ours.

Eventually, the time came, and we were led to a room of the school we had never been in before. There was a row of chairs and nurses, and they were calling out names in alphabetical order, which meant yet more waiting because my name was in the middle. I was trying not to watch the others get their jabs and trying to convince myself that I was not going to freak out. I had it all sorted out in my head. I was going to sit in that chair, the jab would magically just happen without me freaking out, and then I could leave.

This plan fell apart the moment I sat down. The nurse had to ask me questions rather than psychically knowing I had this phobia and wanted to just be stabbed quickly so I could leave. I answered all the questions, albeit kind of curtly, despite not seeing the point in most of them. Like, I was twelve; of course I wasn’t pregnant. Why would you even ask that? In hindsight, I know that all the nurses were kind and professional and non-judgemental the whole time, but Kid Me didn’t understand that yet.

After what felt like an eternity, the nurse asked if I was ready for the jab. Nope, I am not ever going to be ready to be stabbed, thank you very much. This question pretty much started me spiralling into a meltdown. Most of what happened next was a big fuzz of panic in my memory until my best friend came over and held my hand. Her class was called sometime after mine and she walked over after getting her own jab, so I’d been here a while.

Another nurse came over and tried to talk to me, and the first stood quietly far too close, and my friend was trying to be reassuring, and I “knew” I was being watched by all of the other students and maybe the other nurses, even though I couldn’t focus on them to check if they were actually looking. It was all far too much, but at least I could vaguely see and hear by then, even if the time between hearing words and understanding what they meant was far too long. The nurses also occasionally spoke to my friend, but I couldn’t focus on what they were saying.

I kept getting asked if I wanted the jab and I kept choking out that this was very much the opposite of what I wanted but I knew I needed to have the jab, though nowhere near as eloquently. Eventually, the other nurse told me that they could not force me to have the jab, but if I didn’t have it, then they’d have to tell my dad that I’d refused it.

I did not want them to tell my dad. I was supposed to have this vaccine, so refusing it was a bad thing to do. I didn’t want my dad to know I was being bad because that would lead to lectures and not being allowed on the game consoles. So, I managed to pull myself together enough to stop rocking while one nurse held my arm still and my friend kept her grip on my hand. And then, while my eyes were squeezed shut and looking in the opposite direction, the other nurse administered the jab.

It didn’t hurt as much as it should have. I still felt it, so I know I had the jab. But it confused me because there was supposed to be so much more pain. I knew what needles felt like; I had memories as recently as five years earlier where the entire memory consisted of pain and hurt and dread and screams. This couldn’t be over yet. I kept asking the nurses if it was really done, and they were all reassuring smiles and sent me on my way.

Someone asked my friend to escort me to room F11. There were quite a few autistic kids in our school, so we had a couple of rooms just for us, and this was one of them. My friend was allowed in with me even though she usually wasn’t, and we just sat there together until I’d calmed down and then talked until the school day ended.

Thankfully, my general phobia of needles has lessened to the point where I haven’t freaked out this bad in years, though my phobia of the specific kind of needle the egg donor used is still bad enough that I cannot physically say what kind it was.