Diagnosed With Not Quite Surgical Precision

, , , , | Healthy | November 17, 2019

(In college, I start getting severe fatigue; I am sleeping ten hours a night, getting an hour or two nap each day, and still feeling exhausted all the time. I go to the student health center where they do some blood tests and diagnose me with hypothyroidism, where my thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. I am given a prescription for the generic of a synthetic thyroid hormone, and things improve drastically for several months. But after I have my prescription filled at a different pharmacy, I start having different symptoms: anxiety, feeling jittery all the time, being unreasonably cold, etc. I go back to the health center where they run more blood tests. This is what happens at the followup appointment when those blood test results come back.)

Doctor: “So, your thyroid hormone levels are much too high. You have hyperthyroidism.” *goes into treatment options, which basically boil down to either radiation to kill off part of my thyroid or surgery to remove part of it*

Me: “Okay. Well, before we start talking about surgery, don’t you think we should try reducing my [medication] dosage?”

Doctor: *stares at me for a second, then reads my chart more carefully* “Ah. Yes, yes, we should probably try that first.”

(A DIFFERENT doctor in the health center was able to explain that I’m in a small group of people that are sufficiently sensitive to thyroid hormone that the different levels in different generic brands can act like a completely different dosage, meaning that I need to be on the name brand to ensure my dosage stays constant. We put me on the name brand and I didn’t have any more problems, and I never saw the other doctor again.)

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Conversational Heart Failure

, , , , | Healthy | November 15, 2019

(I have myriad medical issues which give me some bother. I have an appointment with my primary care doctor. This office knows about all of my conditions. I get to the building and ride the elevator to the fourth floor. I get into the office and go to the check-in desk. There are two office workers there. One I know; the other I don’t. The worker who I don’t know goes to check me in and sees I’m breathing quite heavily.)

Worker: “Walk the steps today?”

Me: “No. I have congestive heart failure.” 

(The worker couldn’t get her foot out of her mouth, it was wedged in so deeply. The other worker, the one I knew, just burst out laughing so hard that she spit out part of her sandwich. I did let the first worker off the hook and said I didn’t care what she said. I was not offended at all. It was just too funny.)

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Can’t Equate Numbers To Notes

, , , , | Healthy | November 13, 2019

(My high school chemistry teacher is a very stern, organized lady. One of my friends is very bright but not organized at all, and he hates the very structured reports we have to make of our chemistry labs. He is constantly getting points off for one detail or another. One facet of these reports is that they are required to have two columns: one for equations and one for long-form notes. One lab, my friend and I are partnered and he actually is trying to do his report properly. The chemistry teacher comes to look over our work and taps his chemistry notebook disapprovingly.)

Teacher: “You haven’t labeled these columns; how am I supposed to know which is equations and which is notes?”

Friend: “See the one with numbers in it? That’s the equations column.”

(My friend immediately looked horrified with himself. He and the teacher just stared at each other for a long moment, and then she finally just huffed and moved on to the next group. I do realize that such labels are probably useful in a real laboratory, but to be fair to my friend, the teacher did sort of set herself up for that!)

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One Ring To Rue Them All

, , , | Healthy | November 13, 2019

My mom has an accident at work and spills boiling water directly on her hand, badly burning several of her fingers, one of which happens to be the finger she wears her wedding ring on. Her boss drives her to a nearby pharmacy clinic where she is seen by the on-call doctor.

At this point, her fingers have swelled a lot, locking her wedding ring on her finger and causing painful constriction. It’s clear that the ring needs to be removed. My mother is assuming they will cut the ring off of her finger, which she is sad about, but at this point, she’s much more concerned about relieving the intense pain she is in. The doctor comes into the room and quickly examines her hand, saying, “What a beautiful ring! It would be such a shame to damage it by cutting it off!”

He then proceeds to forcibly yank the ring off of her finger past the swelling, putting my mother in even more pain and tearing open the blisters that have started to form. 

She has since healed and is relieved to be able to wear her ring again and not need to pay to have it fixed, but she isn’t sure it was worth all of the pain and the extra time it took to recover due to the blisters being torn.

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A Shot Of Ignorance

, , , , | Healthy | November 11, 2019

(One evening, I get the call every person with an elderly relative fears: my 90+ grandma has fallen down and can’t get up. Luckily, she ended up next to the phone; she actually tripped as she was walking over to it because it was ringing. Since everyone else in our small family is either on vacation, not on speaking terms with Grandma, or living in a nursing home on the other side of town and not in possession of a driving license — or their full mental faculties — I am the only one who can help her out. I race over, hoping it’s just a case of having to help her up because she is in an awkward position, but as soon as I walk in the door and see the unnatural angle of her leg, I know we have a fracture on our hands and have to go to the hospital. We end up in an examination room at the ER, waiting for either the x-ray nurse or the neurologist, whoever shows up first. The neurologist has been called because Grandma hit her head on the stone windowsill when she fell, which caused a small wound and a bit of blood. That wound is the cause of the following conversation with a very chipper ER doctor.)

Doctor: “Well, Mrs. [Grandma], I know you’re waiting for the x-ray nurse and the neurologist, but I’m neither; I’m just here to give you a little tetanus shot.”

(My grandma is neither stupid nor suffering from dementia, but she has never had more than an elementary-school education, and apparently, she never learned what a tetanus shot is, leading to this little gem:)

Grandma: “A tetanus shot? What is that for?”

Doctor: “Well, ma’am, that’s for what we call ‘street dirt’–“

Grandma: *interrupting indignantly* “Street dirt? I fell inside my own home!”

(She sounds like she thinks what the doctor said is the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard, and he and I simply couldn’t contain our laughter. The doctor gives a brief explanation of what a tetanus shot is for, but too brief, apparently, because as soon as he is out the door…)

Grandma: “[My Name], what was all that about? I don’t get it. My house is clean!”

(I gave her a much more expansive explanation of germs, and why even her nice clean house wasn’t free of them. She was pretty horrified, but finding out her femur was broken soon took precedence. She could laugh about it later, though, when I mimicked her indignant tone. She almost sounded insulted at being associated with any kind of dirt.)

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