Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

Some People Shouldn’t Be Nurses

, , , , | Healthy | July 30, 2021

I am newly eighteen, so at my doctor’s office, I have to fill out new paperwork — confidentiality and whatever they make you do. I’m a short, very light-skinned girl with bright blonde hair which is naturally dark brown but I dye it. My mother is from Cuba and her father is from Spain, so I am 50% Latina and Hispanic. I definitely don’t look it, which isn’t normally a problem. It’s more like a fun trivia tidbit about me.

On one of the papers I am filling out, it asks if I am Hispanic/Latina. I check yes, because I am. I give the nurse the paperwork and wait in the room for a doctor. I can hear some nurses outside the door in the office area talking rather loudly.

Nurse #1: “She’s got blonde hair and blue eyes — perfect Aryan. I think she checked the wrong box.”

Nurse #2: “Change it for her. Obviously, she got it wrong.”

Nurse #1: “Maybe she’s trying to scam us. One of those people begging to be oppressed.”

For the record, I have deep brown eyes, not blue. But I’m very upset about the conversation I’m hearing. My ethnicity is not for them to decide or discuss, and my patient records are supposed to be confidential, not talked about in front of or to anyone.

The nurse comes back in and hands me the clipboard.

Nurse #1: “I think you marked that wrong — the Hispanic/Latina question.”

Me: “Uh, I am both Hispanic and Latina. I’m Cuban and Spanish.”

Nurse #1: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Are you sure you should be gossiping about your patients’ medical files to other nurses and whoever else can hear right in front of the door?”

She left without another word. I’ve considered switching from that office for a while, but I don’t go enough for it to be a huge problem. I’m still bothered by this incident, though.

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One Wild Ride

, , , , , | Healthy | July 26, 2021

The summer before my brother starts college, we go to an amusement park. He drags me on a bunch of terrible rides and a fun time is had by all. A few days later, however…

Brother: “My stomach hurts.”

Mom: “Where? How bad is it?”

Brother: “It’s not bad, just kind of sore right here.”

He gestures vaguely to the middle of his stomach, so my mom dismisses his appendix.

Mom: “It’s probably bruised from the bars on the [ride]. It’s what you get for dragging your sister on it and flipping it over.”

Over the course of a week, the pain doesn’t subside, but my brother hasn’t mentioned it getting worse or anything like that. My mom lets it go for the moment but decides to take him to the doctor if it doesn’t get better by next week. Come the weekend, I find him lying down on the floor of his room.

Me: “[Brother], are you okay?”

Brother: “No, my stomach really hurts. I just took another Hydrocodone, and it still hurts.”

The Hydrocodone was for his oral surgery he’d had earlier in the year. That surgery bothered him so little he never ended up taking the pills and just left them in the medicine cabinet.

Me: “Don’t worry. I’ll get Mom and we’ll take you to the doctor, okay?”

I got to my mom’s room.

Me: “Mom, we need to take [Brother] to the doctor. His stomach hurts and he took another Hydrocodone.”

Mom: “He did what?”

She rushed out, collected my brother, and drove us to the emergency room. It turns out it was his appendix. It had actually ruptured partially, though thankfully his body had walled it off. He had to go in for emergency surgery. My parents were pissed he let himself suffer so much before getting help. He recovered fine and was more upset that he had a weight limit for his first two weeks at college.

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Diagnosis: Unnecessary Anguish

, , , , | Healthy | July 24, 2021

In 2016, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to the cancer being estrogen-related, she opted out of chemotherapy and decided that the mastectomy and pills would be enough. I supported her 100% and even argued against doctors and my father when they tried to pressure her.

Two years later, her thyroid started acting up. She went in for multiple biopsies. While we waited for results, I started Googling if the breast cancer could have metastasized into her thyroid. A week went by, and she went to her regular doctor and was told that the results were cancer. We got a nice report that said whatever they found was malignant.

We were devastated, and I blamed myself for not pushing chemo on my mom. We got the results Wednesday and had to wait until Monday to see her cancer doctor. It was a bad week. The day of the appointment, I tagged along with my mom and dad so I could be kept informed. The doctor walked into the office smiling.

Doctor: “How are we doing today?”

Mom: “I don’t know, you tell me. Do you know what stage it is? Has it spread?”

Doctor: “Cancer?”

Mom: “In the thyroid?”

Doctor: “You don’t have cancer.”

Mom: “What? They told me it was cancer.”

That was apparently shocking enough that the doctor left the room to go talk with the other doctors who did the biopsy.

Doctor: “Well, I mean it’s not not cancer. We don’t know exactly what’s wrong. It needs to come out for sure, but it’s probably not cancer, and if it was, it’d be stage zero and not dangerous.”

I sat in silence while the doctor hashed out treatment and surgery options with my parents. I felt relieved but also annoyed and confused. 

Me: “I read the report, though. Why’d they put ‘malignant’ if they didn’t know?”

Doctor: “Oh, well, sometimes they just need to put something on the report.”

It wasn’t cancer, by the way. The thyroid was two times bigger and three times heavier than it should have been and covered in nodes, but my mom made a full recovery and is healthy.

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Cat Poop: It’s What’s For Dinner

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 22, 2021

My cat’s name is Dinner; my boyfriend, who is Vietnamese American, named him. He hasn’t been feeling well (the cat), and the vet told me to bring in a fecal sample.

They are still doing business by car, so when I pull up and the vet tech comes out, I hand over the bag of poop.

Me: “This is for Dinner.”

Vet Tech: *Stammering* “Thank you?”

Then, I come to my senses.

Me: *Laughing* “It’s a sample from my cat, Dinner. The vet needs it.”

She was so professional and so polite, in spite of her “WTF” face.

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Sometimes You Have To Go Off-Script

, , , , , | Healthy | July 20, 2021

I work in a pharmacy, so you can imagine that we get more than our fair share of sick, coughing people. Unfortunately, that also means that we get more than our fair share of people who insist they cannot wear a mask. While corporate has refused to allow us to use curbside service, my management HAS been very good at backing us up and insisting we can refuse service to people that don’t comply.

Customer: “Hi, I just need this script filled.”

Me: “Sorry, ma’am, can you please put on your mask?”

Customer: “No, I have a medical exemption.”

Me: “I’m afraid that I am going to have to insist.”

Customer: “I cannot wear a mask.”

Me: “Ma’am, we will refuse service to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask. Many of our customers are high-risk.”

At this, she lifts her script to press it flat against the plastic of the barrier between us.

Customer: “The sooner you give me these, the sooner I can leave and start taking them so that I can wear a mask. But I need this script first.”

I am about to keep arguing, but then I realise what the medication on the script is. It’s a strong prescription painkiller, used for nerve disease and shingles and its complications.

I then look at the woman’s face again, and  I realise the redness on her cheeks and jaw are not embarrassment or just a ruddy complexion but inflammation.

Me: “Sorry, ma’am. I’ll… get right on that.”

Could she have been clearer? Given the particular painkiller, probably not.

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