This Doctor’s Stubbornness Runs Deep

, , , , , | Healthy | March 11, 2020

(Whenever I start coming down with any sort of respiratory infection, my voice gets deeper. The deeper the voice, the worse the illness is. I am stationed overseas in the nineties when a couple of coworkers notice that my voice is getting deeper. I go to Sick Call the next morning, and the corpsman, familiar with my history of pneumonia, sends me to the nearest US military hospital about 100 kilometers south to get seen by actual doctors.)

Doctor: “What brings you in today?”

Me: “I’m coming down with some sort of chest bug. Every time my voice gets deep, I get sick a few days later.”

Doctor: “What sort of symptoms are you having?”

Me: “At the moment, just the deep voice.”

Doctor: “That could mean anything. It’s probably acid reflux.”

(So far, the doctor has not examined me in any way.)

Me: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Sir?”

Doctor: “I’ll prescribe you an antacid for a week or so. You should also prop up the head of your bed just a bit, to help control the reflux.”

Me: “First, I’m not here for acid reflux. I’m coming down with some sort of twitching awfuls, because my voice is getting deep. When I start sounding like James Earl Jones, I always get pneumonia or bronchitis or some other chest ailment within a couple of days. Every time. Since the deep voice just started being noticeable, I’m trying to get ahead of the disease. Second, I have a waterbed. Propping up the head of the bed will have no effect.”

Doctor: *frowning* “Sure, it will work. Just put a boot under the corners of your headboard. This will raise your upper body slightly and help prevent acid reflux from irritating your larynx.”

Me: *sighing internally* “With all due respect, sir, you cannot tilt water. It always stays level.”

Doctor: “Just raise your headboard a couple of inches. You’ll see.”

Me: *sighing out loud this time* “Sir, it’s a waterbed. Here’s a demonstration: run a little bit of water into that portable basin next to the sink.” *pointing at the small metal basin*

Doctor: “Okay.” *runs water into the basin*

Me: “Now, tilt the basin up on one end.”

Doctor: *lifts one end of the basin slightly*

Me: “Notice that the water stays level, no matter how high you raise either end of the basin? That’s why raising the head of my waterbed will be less than useless.”

Doctor: “Oh. I guess you’re right. I suppose we’ll have to get you an appointment with the gastroenterology clinic to cure your reflux.”

Me: *facepalm* “Sir, I don’t have reflux. Could you please listen to my chest?”

(I was given a prescription for antacid and told to go back to work, all without the doctor conducting an examination. Three days later, I was back in the hospital as an inpatient… with pneumonia.)

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