Ears Are Becoming Vestigial Organs These Days

, , | Healthy | July 6, 2020

I work at a clinic where we frequently send people for surgery. Sometimes we send people to the hospital for emergency surgery right from the clinic, but most often, we have their surgery scheduled anywhere between a week from when we saw them up to a few months in the future. 

In these cases, we give the patient a quick explanation of the paperwork they need to fill out, as well as how the process works. When we are able to tell patients what day their surgery will be, we explain that we get the time for their surgery right from the hospital but we won’t get that information until the day before their surgery day.

One day, I am answering phones at work when I get the following call.

Caller: “Hi, I was just at the clinic and they said my dad is going to have surgery on [date], but they didn’t give us the time!” *Laughs*

Me: “We always call patients the day before their surgery in the afternoon to inform them of their surgery time.”

Caller: “Oh, that’s what the girl at the desk said.”

Me: “…”

I get that people are a little nervous and preoccupied when they are told they will need to have surgery. However, we get calls like this every single day! Some people just don’t listen, I guess.

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Giving Your Children A Time-Release Heart Attack

, , , , | Healthy | July 5, 2020

My father contacts me to let me know he is in the hospital. Something is going on with his heart; they are not sure what yet. After a lot of testing, and a lot of panic on my end, he is released with some new medication. He says they are not exactly sure what happened; he didn’t have a heart attack, though. 

Fast forward several months, and the topic comes up. I ask him if they have figured out what happened that day. 

“No,” he says. “Just that it was some kind of myocardial infarction.”

Cue my bio-nerdy stare of disbelief. That was the day I got to tell my engineer father that “myocardial infarction” is the technical term for a freaking heart attack!

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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

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Nothing Like Being Part Of The Problem

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 3, 2020

Our office currently prescreens people who come in by asking them pertinent questions and reminding them to wear a mask to their appointment, where we will take their temperature.

Patient: “Hi, my name is [Patient]; I’m here for my 2:00 appointment.”

Me: “Did you bring your mask, ma’am?”

Patient: “I didn’t know I needed one.”

We have her marked as prescreened, so I know she was reminded.

Me: “That’s okay; we have extra masks so I can give you one to wear.”

I hand her one and wait for her to put it on, but she just stands there.

Me: “Ma’am, if you’ll put the mask on, I can continue checking you in.”

The patient makes a face, but puts it on.

Patient: “All my information is the same.”

Me: “Okay, and your cell phone is [number]? Okay, I have you checked in. If you’ll have a seat in your vehicle, a nurse will call you in when we have a room ready.”

Patient: “In my car? You want me to sit outside in my car?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. We want to limit our lobby to elderly to help against extra contact. We also suggest people call from their vehicles to speed the process and make it easier.”

We would have told her this when we called to prescreen her, as well.

Me: “If you don’t have AC, then we understand if you need to sit in here.”

Patient: “Yes, I have AC!”

She sits down in the lobby anyway, and we get a large influx of people coming in and out for their appointments. At one point, she comes back to the window.

Patient: “How soon is my appointment? I’ve been here for twenty minutes already and there’s been a ton of people going through here.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, that’s why we suggest patients sit in their vehicles. You have two others in front of you, so if you want to sit out there, we can help you limit your contact with others and call you in when we’re ready, okay?”

She sits down again and waits until it’s her turn to go back, which is almost another thirty minutes later, and only ten minutes past her appointment.

Patient: *As she passes me* “You should have told me you were going to have so many people in the lobby. I didn’t feel safe at all. Next time, tell me to sit in my car.”

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A Dizzying Ordeal

, , , , | Healthy | July 1, 2020

I have had vertigo on and off since I caught a bug in 2017. I usually bed rest and it goes away after a few hours. I have a bout of it in May 2019; it’s just not going after two days and my anxiety over it is making it worse.

I call the doctor and his receptionist says as it’s an existing condition I can have a telephone consult. Two minutes after I put the phone down, the doctor calls back and says he’ll send an electronic prescription to the local pharmacy. I can’t drive. I can only just stand, but the pharmacy is seven minutes’ walk, so I figure I’ll stagger up to the pharmacy, get the meds, and then stagger next door to the tea room, take the tablets with a drink there, and wait for them to kick in so I can walk home. My friend runs the tea room and will let me sit quietly in the corner.

So, the plan is made, and after fifteen minutes of stumbling up the road with the world spinning, I get to the pharmacy and hang off a display unit for another ten minutes until it’s my turn.

Assistant: “How can I help you?”

Me: “I’ve come to collect a prescription that the doctor has just sent through electronically as urgent for me.”

Assistant: “I’ll go look.”

She disappears for ten minutes. By the time she returns, I’m almost lying on the counter as my head is spinning so much.

Assistant: “No, there’s no prescription for you.”

Me: “Can you check, please? The doctor said he would send it through as urgent.”

Assistant: “Well, if you insist.”

Me: *Through gritted teeth*Yes, I do!

She goes away again and comes back after another ten minutes, by which time I’m starting to feel nauseous.

Assistant: “No prescription. When did the doctor send it through?”

Me: “As I said, he has just sent it through as urgent. Just now.”

Assistant: “Why didn’t you say?”

Me: “I did.”

Assistant: “Oh, we don’t look at the electronic ones until the afternoon. Can you come back in two days?”

Me: “I have chronic vertigo. I can’t see too well, and I can’t stand up, walk, or lie down. The doctor has prescribed these as urgent. No, I can’t come back in two days!

Assistant: “Are you insisting that you have your prescription made up now?”

Me:You think?

She looks blankly at me.

Me: “Yes, I am. Please make it up now or I will throw up and collapse here.”

Assistant: *Sighs* “If you insist. Can you go sit over there?” *Points at a chair behind a pillar* “You are stopping other people getting their prescriptions.”

I looked at her as if she had lost the plot and went to sit in the chair and lean on the pillar which was nice and cold on my head.

After another thirty minutes, still no prescription. I staggered over and asked the assistant how much longer it would be as it was now nearly an hour since I’d gotten there. She told me to go sit down and wait.

I stumbled back. After another thirty minutes, a different assistant came over with a clipboard and asked me to fill out a customer satisfaction surgery. I must have looked shocked and possibly homicidal at this point, as she said in a caring way, “Are you okay, love?”. I explained that I’d been there all morning waiting for my urgent prescription. She grabbed the clipboard out of my hands and dashed off. She came straight back with my prescription made up.

She explained that the pharmacist had started to make it up but had been called to the telephone. Then, it was given to the assistant pharmacist who started it, too, and then went to early lunch. The assistant I’d been dealing with had gone out on her break and it had been forgotten, and because I was behind the pillar, they had forgotten me.

This different assistant had been filling a display up, saw what looked like a dead woman on the chair, and brought over the survey as a way to talk to me. I dry-swallowed two of the tablets as she spoke, staggered home hours after I had left, and finally collapsed in bed. About thirty minutes later, the tablets kicked in and I filled the survey out in line with very honest replies.

Two days later, I moved to having my prescriptions filled by post — they come three days after you request them — and for urgent, I now send my husband.

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