Drink This, Then The Pneumonia Won’t Seem So Bad

, , , , | Healthy | July 3, 2018

(I am nine years old. I have a pretty weak constitution and frequently fall ill. Every winter, like clockwork, I’ll get pneumonia, among other illnesses. I learn to recognize and become familiar with the sensation of my lungs feeling full of lead, and sharp, stabbing pain overtaking my ribcage on every inhale. I can’t breathe in enough oxygen to get out of bed. My parents choose their own methods of medical treatment for me. I’ve been bed-bound for days with pneumonia; I’ve got a high fever and am struggling to breathe. My parents have been bringing me occasional water and soup, and some seemingly random, unnamed medicines. Mom comes in, sits on the bed, and hands me a cup of medicine.)

Mom: “You need to drink this.”

(I take a sip. It’s horrifically bitter. I gag, cough, and hand it back.)

Me: “I… can’t… It’s… bitter… and gross!”

Mom: “You have to drink it, anyway; it’s medicine! You need to drink your medicine!”

Me: *panting* “I… can’t! There’s… no… way… I can… drink… that! It’s… undrinkable! It… tastes… like… poison!”

Mom: “Well, if you want to whine about it, fine.” *offhandedly* “Just know that since you’re severely ill, this is the only medicine that will save your life! If you won’t drink it, you’re going to die!

Me: “…” *shock*

Mom: *matter-of-factly* “Yes, you are! You are so horrifically sick that you’ll die if you don’t drink all of this! Probably very quickly! Tonight, in fact! But I guess you don’t want it, so I’m just going to take this away now! I’m leaving with the medicine now, since you’re choosing to die!”

(She pauses.)

Mom: “Now. Are you suuuuuure you don’t want it?!” *wiggles the cup in front of me*

Me: *horrified fear*

(Of course, I reluctantly took the medicine back and choked it down miserably, while gagging and struggling not to throw up or expel my lungs. They continued “treating” me this way for years for every serious illness. Looking back, I think it’s likely it was some “medicinal” Russian tea, or maybe some over-the-counter unflavored children’s fever reducer like acetaminophen or Aspirin, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they chose an unflavored version to save money. Some of the other “folk remedies” my parents inflicted on me to “treat” pneumonia were much more disturbing and gross. For some reason, they seemed to just treat these illnesses like regular colds. They never once took me to a doctor or hospital, no matter how bad it got or how high my fever, despite living in a country with free social healthcare, and otherwise regularly taking me to a doctor for check-ups and vaccines.)

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Tells Dad Jokes Religiously

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 2, 2018

(My dad is chronically unserious, even when he really ought not to be. He and my mother are in the intake of an ER, as he’s managed to injure himself somehow, and a nurse is doing the standard intake questions.)

Nurse: “Religion?”

Dad: “Orthodox Agnostic!”

(The nurse starts to write it down, then pauses and just looks confused.)

Mom: *exasperatedly* “None.”

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Needs A Follow-Up Follow-Up Sign

, , , , , | Healthy | July 2, 2018

(I work in the back office of a large multi-specialty practice. Patients routinely come out of the rooms after their appointments and need to make follow-up appointments, which they are supposed to do with the schedulers at the front desk where they checked in; the doctors tell them so. However, they usually make a beeline for where I sit at the nurses’ station and request that I schedule their follow-up. After a few months of directing patients to the front desk, I made a bold-face, full-page sign that sits upright on the counter between my desk and the patients saying, “Follow-up appointments can be made at the Front Desk,” with a bright orange arrow directing to the front. However, this still happens several times a week:)

Patient: *standing directly in front of the sign and craning their neck around it to see me* “I need a follow-up appointment for six months.”

Me: *mental head-desk* “Let me just show you to the front…”

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Procedural Power Nap

, , , , | Healthy | July 2, 2018

I went in for an outpatient procedure to have a uterine ablation. They were getting me ready for the procedure, and had already given me the stuff to make me sleepy. I asked if I could use the bathroom first. I started to get sleepy and asked again to use the bathroom.

“You’re all done. We just finished the surgery.”

It was the weirdest feeling! I literally blinked and it was over!

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Will Soon Eat His Words

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 1, 2018

One of our patients has a procedure in the morning for which he needs to not eat or drink anything for twelve hours prior. This isn’t uncommon before many procedures, and while it’s not pleasant, it’s doable for most people.

Not so with this patient. As soon as the twelve hours start, he rings his call light every fifteen minutes demanding we bring him something to eat. The first few times, his nurse goes in and explains to him why he can’t eat and what the dangers are, and tells him that if he really needs to eat, we can postpone or cancel the procedure — which is not an emergency, but not entirely unelective. He is adamant that he does not want to postpone or cancel, but he demands that we bring him something to eat.

Obviously, we can’t ignore call lights, and so I fall hours behind in my work going into his room every fifteen minutes to reiterate what he already knows: he can eat now and postpone the procedure, or not eat and have it in the morning. He refuses to accept this and insists we bring him something to eat and that we perform the procedure as scheduled.

Around 3:00 in the morning, the call lights finally stop, and we are all relieved, assuming that he has finally fallen asleep. However, while I am catching up on the work I am behind on, I turn the corner to find the stack of dinner trays waiting to be picked up by the cafeteria, and this patient eating off of a used dinner tray. Without saying anything to the patient, and with a certain amount of satisfaction, I call the nurse and tell her she should let the doctor know that his scheduled morning procedure will have to be cancelled.

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