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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Becoming The Butt Of An Insult-To-Injury Situation

, , , , , | Healthy | June 27, 2020

My dad served in Vietnam between 1969 and 1972. During this time, he saw many of his fellow soldiers injured.

One drew the lucky straw in a firefight and wasn’t fatally injured. The bullet went in one side and out the other side — of his buttocks.

While he was laid up in the hospital, my dad and a few friends visited him.

They all very solemnly entered the guy’s hospital room and very seriously informed him that the doctors had told them that the patient’s bottom was going to have to be amputated due to the injury.

But they were going to get him a nice wooden replacement from the resident local crafters, all shiny and polished, with a belt to hold it on. And they might even be able to afford a pink plastic one for Sundays!

About that time, the patient cottoned on that this was a prank.

Dad and his friends managed to duck out before the bedpan hit them.

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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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Crappy Vision Leads To Crappy Situations

, , , , , | Healthy | June 18, 2020

I work at a specialty ophthalmologist clinic. Patients, who are often already visually impaired, often see worse than they usually do right after their appointment, especially if they’ve had their eyes dilated or had treatment.

We have an older patient population, as well, and unfortunate bathroom explosions are prone to happen from time to time, although thankfully they’re usually confined to the bathroom stalls. 

One day, a patient comes to check out with me and is mumbling about needing directions and how they’re not able to see well. I lead them to the elevator — assuming she is leaving after her appointment — and as the doors open, she says, “Is this the toilet?”

“Oh, no, no!” I exclaim and lead her the proper way to the bathrooms, picturing the disaster we could have had on our hands.

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