Hopefully, Those Weeks Just Flu By

, , , | Healthy | June 26, 2020

My sister and I vacation together in Florida, and we come back sick as dogs. We’re both sneezing and coughing uncontrollably plus feverish chills, but mine’s worse. I get so bad that I lose control of my body so I soil myself, clumps of my hair fall out, and I have hallucinations of shadowy figures. I’m naturally fat but I can’t eat, so my stomach caves in. I drool uncontrollably the time, and I get an earache so bad that I can’t hear anything. Plus, my eyes puff up so much that I can’t see either. Ever been deaf and blind? It’s NOT fun.

I figure I got a bad flu, but it’s never been like this, so I figure I have the flu AND maybe something else. Finally, weeks later, I go the see a doctor, I’ve no insurance but I’m desperate for relief. Over-the-counter medicine does nothing.

I tell the doctor everything, and he runs tests. Flu: negative. Strep throat: negative. Pneumonia: negative.

Doctor: “It must be bronchitis. A mild case of it.”

Me: “A mild case? If this is mild, I don’t want to ever experience a severe case!”

He gave me a prescription for my cough. My sister went, too, and she got a flu diagnosis. She still blames me for giving it to her, even though I told her I didn’t! I lost twenty-five pounds at least.

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No Particular Emphasis On “Assisted” Living

, , , , , , , | Healthy | June 24, 2020

A few years ago, I — a sixty-four-year-old male — had a bad bicycle accident. The damages included a concussion, broken right collarbone, broken right elbow, four broken ribs on my right side, and three fractures in my left pelvis; if you can explain the physics of that, I’m all ears.

Four days in the hospital got me stabilized, but then I needed rehab and was sent to a nursing home. That’s when the fun began.

I was transported to the home at about 6:00 pm. After intake, I struggled for a few hours to find a comfortable position and finally got to sleep, only to be awakened at 11:30 pm (!) to have them take pictures of my bare backside to see if I had bedsores already. Two days later, I was awakened at 4:45 am (!!) because the traveling technician was going to take my blood and wanted to get done early.

I was getting both physical and occupational therapy from the same outsourced company. The routine was to do the PT first at one end of the building and then get wheeled back to my room for the OT. The third day, the occupational therapist was taking me back to my room and one of the physical therapists came with us. The two men were discussing a barbeque they were going to have that weekend.

No problem, except that when we got to my room they stopped in the hallway and talked over me for five minutes. I called out the OT when we were alone; to his credit, he apologized and said that I wasn’t their typical patient, meaning I had no dementia.

I was on a schedule where I was given two assisted showers a week. This wouldn’t have been too bad, except that the home had no air conditioning and we had a heatwave in the nineties the second week. I was waiting for the aide to take me when I noticed five young women hanging around the door to my room. When I asked, they told me they were going to watch my shower as part of their training. I informed them that no, they weren’t, so they waited outside the shower area with my wheelchair.

By that point, I could walk slowly with a cane, so after getting dressed, I limped to my chair with help from the aide. One of the women was standing behind the chair with her hands on the grips. I let go of the cane, grabbed a handrail on the chair, and almost fell on my face as the chair moved out from under me! She hadn’t set the brakes on the wheels and hadn’t held on to the chair. I was lucky there was no damage but it hurt like crazy.

In addition to the therapy for my hip, I needed to wait until the swelling in my broken elbow went down before surgery. When it was ready for the procedure, I went to the hospital having had no food or drink for over twelve hours. I was lying on the gurney about to go into the prep room when I was approached by a young doctor I’d never met. She wanted me to give her permission to perform a “nerve block” on me after the operation. In her telling, this would keep me from feeling pain afterward.

This had not been discussed before, I had no knowledge of what a nerve block entailed, it sounded dangerous, and this person was a total stranger. She was persistent, I’ll give her that, but she finally took the hint when I told her to get the h*** away from me.

The surgery went fine and I had no real discomfort afterward, even to the point where I never filled the prescription for the opioid painkiller I was given. So much for the nerve block. I was not, however, forewarned about another side effect of the anesthesia. It is common that urination is inhibited after the procedure, and by 6:00 pm, I was in real pain.

The nurses’ aides didn’t have the authority to give me a catheter and had to get permission. An hour later, I got my first experience with the process. Then, they took it out. And a few hours later, the pressure built up again.

This time, they didn’t want to put the tube back in; their training said they had to wait four hours. My wife had to yell that she’d take me to the emergency room and file charges against them before they fixed the problem. This time they left it in, and by the following evening, the plumbing worked.

As to the home itself, my stay confirmed my fear of the places, even without a contagion situation. Most of the other long-term residents had some degree of dementia and there was lots of moaning and shouting at all hours. And the food was just as bland as the stereotype; luckily, my wife brought me meals a couple of times a day — including the occasional illicit cold beer.

I got out three days after the elbow surgery and was able to navigate my house, including the stairs, immediately. In another week, I rarely used the cane and have a story for my grandkids.

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Some Doctors Have Their Heads Up Their… Well, You Know

, , , | Healthy | June 20, 2020

TMI warning! I have severe rectal bleeding. As a woman, it’s extremely hard to get care for it.

Several Doctors: “Are you sure the blood isn’t from your period?”

Doctor #1: “One drop of blood can make the whole bowel look red.”

Doctor #2: “The surgery is painful, and you’re so young! Why put you through unnecessary risk?”

Doctor #3: “Most women are anemic. I wouldn’t worry about it. Just gain a little weight.”

Doctor #4: “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you say.”

Female Doctor #1: “That sounds awful! I just need to check a simple thing, and then I can recommend you for surgery.”

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A Vampire Has Better Bedside Manner

, , , , , | Healthy | June 19, 2020

As part of my work’s health insurance, all employees need to get basic blood work done each year. It’s a minor inconvenience, and it’s fully paid for by the company. However, I have a bad needle phobia. The year before last, my best friend came with me so I could hold his hand. Last year, I decided to go alone, since I was going to the same phlebotomist and she was very nice, but I ended up having a low-key panic attack and tremors for the rest of the day regardless.

This year, I go to a new clinic and need a bit more blood drawn for my personal doctor, so my best friend thankfully agrees to let me crush his hand again. We’re seen to quickly enough and go into the room to wait. Then, the phlebotomist enters and the trouble starts.

My friend is sitting on my right side and has his phone and earbuds out so he can distract me with silly videos. The phlebotomist — who entered from the door on my left, mind — crosses over to my right side and looks down at him.

Phlebotomist: “You need to move.”

Me: “Sorry, I’m actually more comfortable having my blood drawn from my left arm. I have a severe needle phobia and tend to tense up.”

She just huffs and moves to my left. She ties the rubber cuff around my arm VERY TIGHTLY and I feel my fingers start to tingle and throb in a matter of seconds, so I reach over to loosen it just a little bit.

Phlebotomist: “Don’t touch that!”

Me: “It was too tight! My hand was going numb!”

She huffs again and then comes up to my side and grabs my arm. I immediately jerk forward and tense up, and the phlebotomist pushes me back against the chair.

Phlebotomist: “You need to stay still or I’m going to hurt you.”

I was so keyed up I could only whimper, so I squeezed my friend’s hand for all it was worth after he passed me the earbuds and started playing a video that I think had cats being cute or something.

The phlebotomist stuck me and I whimpered some more while my leg bounced with nervous energy. I heard her tutting over the noise of the video, like I was some rambunctious child, and the draw felt like it took forever. Eventually, all the vials were filled and the phlebotomist dismissed us with the scowl she’d had on the entire time.

My friend had to lead me out of the clinic, as I was dizzy from stress by that point, and it took a good few minutes for him to bring me down enough to be safe to drive home.

People like that phlebotomist are part of the reason I developed this phobia in the first place, and she certainly did her part to make sure I don’t conquer it any time soon!

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Some Doctors Should Be Dislocated From Their Professions

, , , , , , | Healthy | June 17, 2020

When I am in middle school, I do gymnastics through the school. During the last meet of my last year at the school, I dislocate my shoulder doing a cartwheel while I am warming up. Looking back, this is all pretty hilarious. At the time, not so much.

I’m slightly in shock but I know something’s wrong. I’m crumpled against the practice beam.

Me: “[Coach], [Coach]!”

My coach was watching the current student perform her routine and thought I just had questions, so she’s shushing me. Up in the stands, my mom saw me fall but thought that I’d just bumped the beam when I went down.

Mom: *Jokingly to a family friend* “I know she’s had worse. She just needs to shake it off; she’ll be fine.”

Back on the floor, a couple of teammates and one of the other coaches have realized that there’s a problem. They get me upright and the coach signals my mom to get down to the floor. By this time, the initial shock has worn off and I’m in massive amounts of pain — when my shoulder dislocates, my arm gains about three inches in length and what feels like 1000 pounds — so there is some minor crying going on on my part. My mom gets into the locker room, gets a hold of my dad, and tells him to stay in the car because we need to get to urgent care.

We get ice on my shoulder and my mom uses an ace bandage to immobilize things and we get in the car. We get down to urgent care and I remember this guy who sees me and lets me go ahead of him — not sure what his issue was, but thank you so much for letting the screaming and crying teenager jump the line!

We get into the exam room and the doctor comes in and starts examining things. Keep in mind that, A, I’m in a gymnastics leotard and, B, there’s a noticeable divot at my shoulder. He starts poking where my shoulder is supposed to be and asking if it hurts. At that point, not really, and I tell him so. He then starts probing my arm and gets to where my shoulder actually is, and of course, there’s a ton more pain and I tell him so.

The doctor looks up at both my parents.

Doctor: “So, this isn’t a dislocation; she’s broken her humerus. I’m going to order X-rays to be sure, and then we’ll get this fixed.”

Both my parents just stare at him, because it’s obvious that it’s a dislocation. Honestly, my dad was a medic when he was in the army, but the only reason he didn’t reduce my shoulder himself was that he didn’t want to risk something getting pinched. The X-rays get developed, and what do you know, my shoulder is dislocated.

Doctor: “Well, uh, I’m going to send you to the ER. They’ll have better drugs to give her. We’ll give her something to help for now and call ahead to get you guys checked in.”

A nurse comes in and gives me a shot of Demerol — I think; it might have been Dilaudid — and then we’re off to the ER. We get to the ER and they get us checked in, get vitals, and give me the exact same dose of Demerol. Then, they get me into a waiting gurney in the hallway.

We wait there for a while — I don’t remember much of it because I was so drugged up — but my mom finally goes out and asks what’s going on, so then they move me to a bed behind a curtain. I get hooked up to monitors and then to morphine, as well.

Looking back, there were an awful lot of drugs onboard that night. Again, hindsight humor: I thought I was asleep 90% of the time, but apparently, I wasn’t; my parents never mentioned if I said anything weird, but I’m sure I was entertaining.

There is more waiting and my mom finally goes out to the nurses’ station where they are just hanging around.

Mom: “Hi. Excuse me. Could we get some assistance back here? I know this probably isn’t exactly a high priority, but my daughter is fourteen and in pain and a little scared. Can someone please take a look?”

There was a flurry of activity and, within a few minutes, my shoulder was reduced. The doctor then had to pin me to the bed because I immediately tried to put my arms over my head. I suddenly felt better; why wouldn’t I try to use my arm?

My mom called urgent care a few days later to complain about the doctor we’d seen there and it turns out the guy was an allergist! He’d been covering the on-call because they’d had to make a run to help a patient. Mom thinks he was just scared to reduce it which is why he’d sent us to the ER.

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