Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Maybe it's leprosy.

I'm not pregnant. So I'm a little scared since I don't know what's going on inside my own self. And I'm not a fan of going to the doctor.

Last time I went to the asthma doctor, he scolded me because he had to put me in as a new patient since it had been so long since my last visit. For the fourth time. Seriously. I've been a new patient four times with this one doctor. And I wasn't even cheating on him with other doctors.

The last time I went to a general practitioner, I complimented him on his new office. He looked at me weird and said, "I've been here for three years. You've seriously never been to this location?" I told him I was Wonder Woman. (Or something like that.) Then he looked at my stats that the nurse took like there was something wrong with them. I believe the look was Why did I hire that idiot? She can't even take vitals. Moron. So he took my vitals again.

And then he took them a third time.

Then he said, "Did you drive yourself here?"
Me: "Yeah. Why?"
Him: "I don't know how. I don't know how you're even sitting up. Are you lightheaded? I don't know how you're even conscious."
I shrugged. See? Wonder Woman.

So he wrote orders for IV fluids and told me to go to the hospital across the street's ER immediately.

But, see, I had the van, and my husband had the kids and the little car, and if they needed to go somewhere or if there was an emergency, they wouldn't have a vehicle. The ER is a joke for people in a hurry; I knew it would probably take like 6 hours.

So I drove across town back home, told my husband most of what the doc said, got in the car, and drove myself to the hospital near our house. And the ER didn't disappoint. There were tons of people in the waiting room, most of whom looked like they had nothing more than a cold. Half the doctors are sicker than these "patients," but they come to the ER? What is that?! The triage nurse looked at my doctor's orders, looked at the waiting room, and said, "You'll get faster service if I admit you. You'll get a private room, get your fluids, then can check out. Is that good with you?"

Heck yeah, that was good with me. I went on back, settled in a bed, turned on the Monk marathon on USA, and got ice-cold fluids pumped into me. And it was quiet. Aaahhhh.

Problem: I was dehydrated because of a stomach virus. I'll spare you the details. I believe my actual words to my doctor were, "Give me a shot or something and stop me up, because I don't have time to be sick."

But my doctor's orders didn't have any liquid cork written down, so the nurses couldn't give me any. I was begging for some Pepto, and they said, "You'll have to ask the doctor when he comes in."

Hours pass. No doctor. They've changed my IV bag three times. But they're still not happy with my vitals. So I'm freezing, bored, hungry, sick, and they won't let me leave.

More hours pass. I ask the nurse for some food. Maybe just some crackers and Sprite. She says the dinner cart will be around soon.

I see the cart pass by. No one brings me food. No broth. Nothing.

Um, nurse? Can I go home?  "Not without the doctor signing off on your chart, or insurance won't pay. He's doing rounds. He'll be in soon." I call home and tell my husband.

A nurse still says my blood pressure is dangerously low, and not to expect to go home until morning. Great. I call my husband again.

The doctor never showed. I complained. Nicely. That was my problem: I was nice.

I should have been that screaming crazy chick that the nurses will do anything to get rid of, but I didn't have the energy. I also had two just-weened nearly-one-year-olds, a three year old, and a severely undermedicated ten year old at home. So I was thankful for the break, despite the fact that it was in a hospital. You know your life's batshit crazy when you're grateful for the peace and quiet of a foodless, doctorless hospital room.

By lunch the next day, I was begging for food. And a nurse finally listened. "Wait, what? You've been here since 11am yesterday, and you haven't gotten food? Your doctor should have signed you up with meal services."

"But I haven't seen a doctor. The triage nurse checked me in since I had orders from my GP."

"What doctor did you see in the ER?"

"None! The triage nurse checked me in with only the orders from my doctor. I didn't see a doctor in the ER. I came straight in here."

"You didn't see an ER doc? Then who has been treating you up here?"

"Just the nurses. With my General Pactitioner's orders. I haven't see a doctor at this hospital at all. And I haven't eaten in 28 hours."

"What? Really? Your doctor didn't sign you up for meals?"

I didn't hit her. See? I'm nice.

I explained again. Very slowly. In an even voice. Even though I wanted to put her head in a vice and squeeze - but it wouldn't hurt since her head was obviously empty.

She smiled and said, "We'll see about getting you some food, honey, even if we have to sneak it to you."

"What about a doctor, so I can go home?"

"Yes, we'll find you one of those, too."


I was there for THREE EFFING DAYS. The nurses stole food off the cart from patients who were too drugged to wake up and eat. They snuck me some meds for my stomach. I got better. The Monk marathon was really getting old, though. The third morning, a doctor finally showed up and deemed me healthy enough to go home.


The time before that that I went to the doctor (before he moved to his new location, so this was seven years ago) was for a rash on my finger. It felt like a swarm of fire ants were feasting on my flesh nonstop. It was excruciating. I'd gotten pricked by a rose thorn on that finger, so I thought it could have come from that, since it appeared the same day.

The doctor said, "Well, you're definitely the most interesting case of the day." He prescribed some ointment even though he couldn't figure out what it was. It didn't look like anything he'd ever seen.

Yay for me.

It got worse. It covered half my hand, three fingers, and looked as horrific as it felt. And it was spreading.

So I went back. He looked scared of it. You know it's bad when your doctor is afraid of you. He took a biopsy & then sent me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist didn't know what it was, either. He sent me back to the general practitioner.

And the GP jokingly said, "Maybe it's leprosy. We could cut your hand off, that would make it stop itching & burning."

Yay. I got the funny doctor.

Hydrocortizone and peroxide was the best I could do for it. It was awful.

Months later, I took my baby to her dermatologist (whose waiting list for new patients is over five months long) for her eczema, and showed my hand to him. "I know I'm not your patient, but I might gnaw my arm off if I can't make this rash go away. Do you know what it is?"

One glance, and he knew exactly what it was. He told me the progression of the symptoms, asked if that was right, and said, "It's just an adult-onset form of eczema. No big deal. I've seen it a few times. The ointment that should work on it will also work on the baby's, so I'll just write out a prescription for her with lots of refills so you can use it, too."

"You're my hero." I almost hugged him.

I saw my GP a few weeks later at church. He asked about my hand, and I told him I got a diagnosis and medicine that was helping. He looked, shrugged, smiled, and said, "I don't know. I still think it's leprosy. Give me a call when you're ready to saw that thing off."

Ha ha.


So, I'm calling for an appointment tomorrow. Yee haw.

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