Less Heretical, More Theoretical

| Working | July 10, 2013

(I’ve had a terrible migraine that’s lasted four days, so I go to Urgent Care. I get through triage, making sure they note down all my allergies, including that I have a rare allergy to a well known anti-allergy medication. I am taken to an exam room and a doctor comes in shortly.)

Doctor: “I see you’re not feeling well. We can give you [migraine medication] and that should help. A nurse will be in shortly to start it.”

(A few minutes pass. A nurse comes in with an IV kit and the medication and prepares to insert the needle. Note that I have many tattoos and piercings.)

Nurse: “Alright, here we go…”

(She inserts the needle, but misses the vein. This happens three more times. I’m getting anxious and my arm is becoming very sore and bruised.)

Me: “Oh, d***. Seems like my veins are being uncooperative today. Maybe you could try a smaller needle?”

Nurse: “Do NOT use that kind of language with me, you heathen! I know your kind!”

(I’m taken aback and sit in stunned silence. She finally gets the needle in and injects the migraine medication into the IV, and then starts injecting something else.)

Me: “So, what’s this you’re giving me now?”

Nurse: “This is [well-known anti-allergy medication] because sometimes people have bad reactions to [migraine medication.]”

Me: “Stop! Please stop! I’m allergic to that!”

Nurse: “No, you aren’t. It’s an ANTI-allergen.”

(The nurse quickly injects the medication until it’s almost gone.)

Me: “Please! I’m being serious! It’s in my file! Stop!”
(She belatedly quits, disposes of the syringe, and then leaves the room. I start having an allergic reaction, causing me to break out in hives and hyperventilate. I get up and ask for the doctor, who comes, trailed by my nurse.)

Doctor: “What’s going on?”

Me: “I was given a medication I’m allergic to. It was in my file. I asked the nurse to stop, but it was almost fully injected and now I’m having an allergic reaction.”

Nurse: “That’s not true, Doctor. I only gave her a quarter of the syringe and anyway, no-one is allergic to that! She’s just an uneducated heathen!”

(The doctor and nurse go back and forth about if you can indeed be allergic to it. All the while, I’m standing there covered in hives, having labored breathing and feeling anxious.)

Me: “Is there anything you can do for this?”

Doctor: “I’m not sure what, if anything, we can do for a reaction caused by anti-allergy medication. We can watch you in case your airways close, but there’s not much else I can do.”

(I stay for another 20 minutes to make sure I’m okay, then leave. My head hurts for another 24 hours. On a side note, I teach theoretical physics at a local university. A few months after my hospital visit, the same nurse shows up at parent-teacher night; I’m her daughter’s physics teacher. The look on her face was priceless. So much for me being an uneducated heathen!)

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