If You Want To Stay Sick, Just Cough

, , | Healthy | January 18, 2019

(Over the festive season, I had become quite ill for a period of about three-four weeks. I visited my doctor, received medication, and got better; then my partner became ill and I became ill AGAIN three days later and had to go back to my doctor. I visited two different doctors working in the same center. Unfortunately, my visits with them have left me a bit… surprised. On my first visit, my doctor is very young, seems a bit spacey, and is new to this practice. My medical aid receipts show her visits are charged at less than half the rate of your standard doctor’s visit, so I am a bit wary. My previous doctor was INCREDIBLE, but had just emigrated overseas, and this is her new replacement that I was referred to.)

Doctor: “So, what seems to be the problem today?”

Me: “I have [symptoms], but I’m most worried about my cough. I’m coughing to the point that I’m crumpled on the floor, until I can’t breathe, and I’m basically just vomiting air.” *I indicate to my ribs* “It’s so bad that my ribs feel bruised from coughing so hard.”

Doctor: “Hmm… All right, I’m going to prescribe you some antibiotics, and some of this [gastro medicine] for your stomach problem.”

Me: “Wait, what? What stomach problem?”

Doctor: “You pointed to your stomach and said it hurts, so I’m giving you [gastro medicine]!”

Me: “I said my ribs are bruised… from the coughing? My stomach is perfectly fine, but I’m really worried about this cough. It doesn’t feel normal.”

Doctor: “Oh… okay, then. You don’t need this. Instead, I’ll give you this.”

(He highlights the cheapest and most generic brand of cough syrup on the market, that I’ve already finished two of in the days leading up to my visit. The next doctor’s visit is almost two weeks later, with a different doctor in the same center. I’ve bought myself generic over-the-counter cough medicine up until I could visit the doctor again. I wait over half an hour for my appointment, by which time their offices should be closed, before I’m called in. At this stage, my cough has returned, and I have hurt my wrist, as it hurts when I put pressure on it.)

Doctor #2: “How can I help you today?”

Me: *explains all my symptoms again* “—and I appear to have hurt my wrist. It hurts when I apply pressure; I’m worried it might be sprained.”

Doctor #2: “Well, that’s simple. Just don’t apply pressure to it, then!”

Me: “All right? And for my cough? It’s really getting worse, and none of my medicine seems to work.”

Doctor #2: *puts a bottle of a smaller version of the cheapest generic cough medicine on the counter* “You can take this.”

Me: “Um… I’ve had basically four bottles of this in the last three weeks, and it hasn’t worked. I even have a bottle of this in my bag still. Do you not have anything more specialized, for a deep cough like this? My throat is now raw, I still struggle to breathe because it hurts, and my rib area is still bruised.”

Doctor #2: *huge smile* “Nope! It’s just for symptomatic relief, anyway. This will be fine!”

(I’m still sick, my wrist is still injured, and I’m moving on to my fifth bottle of cough syrup. I’m planning on finding a new doctor soon. For those concerned, the cough syrup is very generic, suitable for toddlers, with no codeine or DXM in it.)

Can’t Nurse That Gender Stereotype

, , , , | Healthy | January 14, 2019

(In Slovenia, as elsewhere, the schools to become a doctor or a nurse are different; medical faculty to become a doctor and faculty of health sciences to become a nurse and other health-related professions. I am a woman, studying to become a doctor and attending medical faculty, wearing a badge saying so when in a hospital. I can’t explain how much every time I have this conversation stresses me out.)

Patient: *always a male, sees the badge* “Oh, so you are still in school?”

Me: “Oh, yes, I’m close to finishing medicine actually.”

(We usually use “medicine” instead of “medical faculty”.)

Patient: “So you’re going to be a nurse soon?”

(Or:)

Random Person: *after finding out I’m still a student* “So what are you studying?”

Me: “Medicine, close to being done actually!”

Random Person: “Oh, so why do you want to be a nurse?”

(This always happens with men. Never women. It’s happened to me over twenty times already and I hear the same stories from other female students. I usually try to gently correct them and most are genuinely confused, but you can imagine how the conversation continues with those that are convinced women should only be nurses.)

Sexually-Transmitted Translation

, , , , | Healthy | March 4, 2018

(I am a foreign college student and I need to see a gynecologist for the first time. I also need to fill out a medical information form that’s all in Chinese.)

Receptionist: “Can you read Chinese?”

Me: “The basics, but I have trouble with medical vocab.”

Receptionist: “Okay, start filling what you can and come back when there’s no line.”

(I do so and the receptionist translates while I answer.)

Receptionist: “Okay, this says, ‘Are you sexually active?’”

Me: *circles yes*

Receptionist: “Okay, and this says, ‘What protection do you use? Check all applicable.’”

Me: “Okay, does it say, ‘dental dam,’ somewhere?”

Receptionist: “Huh?”

Me: “Um… for oral protection.”

Receptionist: “This is asking what you do to not get pregnant.”

Me: “So, it’s ‘contraceptive,’ not ‘protection’?”

Receptionist: “Same thing.”

Me: “No… It isn’t. Okay, where does it ask for the gender of my partner?”

Receptionist: “Gender?”

Me: “Yes. I’m sexually active with women, not men.”

Receptionist: *long pause, looks around as if for help* “Then you put, ‘No,’ for sexually active and skip these questions.”

Me: “Don’t you care about me getting STDs?”

Receptionist: “Huh?”

Me: “It means I can still get STDs, as I’m sexually active, but you want me to put, ‘No,’ for being sexually active.”

Receptionist: *blank stare* “Uh. Let me talk to the doctor.”

(I am not called back for a while, and when I am, it’s for the actual appointment.)

Doctor: “I’m sorry about the form. We never get people like you. Let’s continue.” *hands form back to me*

(I noticed next to the line asking about being sexually active, “lesbian” was written in, in English. She helped me fill the rest of the form, adding — in English — the details it didn’t support, with no further issues.)

Literally The Walking Dead

, , , , | Healthy | February 22, 2018

(When I am 20, I trip over a log and twist my ankle. It never heals right, and for years I have pain every time I take a step, stood, or put any weight on my leg. When I am 25, I get medical insurance, and my doctor sends me to a specialist to look at my ankle. It’s December, and this my first meeting with the specialist. The doctor comes in and pulls out the MRI of my ankle. He looks at it and then looks over at me. Then, he looks back at the MRI, and then back at me, with a small crease forming between his eyebrows.)

Doctor: “How do you even walk?”

Me: “Painfully?”

Doctor: “Yeah, you would have been better off breaking your leg. There is a bunch of scar tissue wrapped around the tendons in your ankle, but the real problem is your ankle bone.”

Me: “What’s wrong with it?”

Doctor: “It’s pretty much no longer there.” *he shows me my MRI* “You see that spot on your ankle, the size of a quarter? That is the part of your ankle that is missing.”

Me: “Well… That seems… bad.”

Doctor: “Yeah, if you hit it hard enough, you could just shatter the entire thing.”

Me: “So, what are my options?”

Doctor: “We can either take bone from your hip and use it as a filler to fill the hole, or we can use cadaver bone. I recommend using cadaver bone so that we don’t further damage your skeleton. Unlike organs, we don’t need to really worry about rejection or shortage. Bones are good for up to five years after donation. “

Me: “Ooh, I can be part dead person?”

Doctor: “Yes, we can use cadaver bone.”

Me: “I want dead person!”

Doctor: “Cadaver bone.”

Me: “What is the difference between dead person and cadaver bone?”

(The doctor just looks at me for a minute and then starts to laugh.)

Doctor: “Nothing. Nothing is the difference.”

Me: “I’m going to be part zombie!”

(From then on, he called it dead person bone. I was scheduled to have the surgery at the end of January, but he called me the first week of January to tell me he had found me a fresh dead person to use, instead; apparently, it takes better. So, we moved up my surgery. It’s been eight years now, and I’m virtually pain-free thanks to a wonderful person and their family, who looked past a tragic time in their lives and thought to help others. I like to use my ankle to help start conversations on the importance of donation, and I have let my family know to please donate all parts of me that they can. I hope that one day I get to help someone be part zombie, too.)

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A Vision Of Incompetence

, , , , , , | Healthy | February 18, 2018

(I am a college student. I have learned of a summertime job, as a “gopher” — office boy — with a local railroad. I arrive at the office where I receive initial training in my duties, and then I am given a piece of paper — ordering a pre-employment physical — that I am supposed to take to the railroad’s doctor’s office. Since I recently passed my college physical, I have no qualms about the pre-employment physical. I drive to the doctor’s office. I note that the waiting room is empty, and there seems to be nobody around.)

Me: “Hello, is anybody here?”

Nurse: *a few minutes later, while eating an apple* “The doctor is out having lunch. What do you need?”

Me: “I am here for a [Railroad] physical.”

Nurse: *chomps on apple* “Okay. I can start that. Sit in the exam chair, and read the eye chart on the wall.” *chomp*

Me: “Do you want me to do that with my glasses on or off?”

Nurse: *chomp, chomp, long pause* “Um, take your glasses off.”

Me: “Should I do this with both eyes open?”

Nurse: *chomp* “Um… Take this thing and cover your left eye.”

Me: “Okay… E.”

Nurse: “Can you read any more?”

Me: “No, I am near-sighted, but my distance vision is 20/20 or better with each eye with my glasses on.”

Nurse: *another long pause, throws away apple core* “I hear the doctor. You must see him now!”

(I then put my glasses on and walk out to the waiting room, where the doctor is apparently reading my physical report. The doctor takes out a pencil with red lead at one end and blue at the other…)

Doctor: “What color is this?” *making a red line on the back of my physical report*

Me: “Red.”

Doctor: “And what color is this?” *making a blue line on the same piece of paper*

Me: “Blue.”

Doctor: “Okay, you can go home now. The railroad will call you later.”

(A day goes by, and I get a call from the railroad.)

Railroad Guy: “Sorry, we can’t hire you.”

Me: “Why not?”

Railroad Guy: “You failed your physical. You can’t see well enough to work here.”

Me: “My vision is corrected to 20/20 in each eye, but the nurse never checked that.”

Railroad Guy: “Maybe so, but you could be hit by a train if your glasses fell off while you were crossing the tracks.”

(I guess I never was qualified to be “workin’ on the railroad,” but I got a better summer job soon after, and not all was lost.)

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