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An Apple a Day and All That Jazz…

July 10, 2009

So I have pneumonia. In the summer. Which, on its’ own is ridiculous. And I’m also pretty much the worst patient ever, and I have zero patience. And I don’t like being poked or prodded or messed with and I am one of those weird people who doesn’t want visitors when you feel like death, had your sinuses ripped out, a baby, or are in a medicated fog. I can’t always tolerate people when I feel good, so when I’m ill it’s really just pushing your luck.

The carrier monkey I gave birth to, almost never gets sick. Which is fabulous. I’d rather me than her. But she brings home everything. I have had strep once a year since she started being around other kids and she’s never had it-good for her but bad for me since due to being a wussy I refuse to have my tonsils removed.

She came home from the beach with walking pneumonia which she promptly gave to my mother and caused my sister to have bronchitis. My doc tells me I have a sinus infection. Story of my life.

Earlier this week I go back and he and the nurse put on masks and gloves every time they enter my room or come near me(not making me feel like a germ covered freak in any way, shape, or form.) and tells me I have pneumonia, x-rays and all that, but just for kicks he sends me for a flu swab. This is where your normal person being sick gets tossed to the wayside and how things work for me kick in. I’m used to it.

So I go up to the hospital lab, give them my orders, wait. See this redneck, wife-beater, baggy pant wearing gay boy from No Hope that I forbid one of my friends from dating. Hoping he’s not my lab tech. Ten plus years later, he remembers me. This is evidenced by his nostril flare glare combo that actually almost makes me giggle. In case he IS my tech, I refrain.

MY lab tech calls me back. Picture Penn Jillette, as a four foot tall woman with crazy curly hair, a shocking stripe of blue eyeliner, and a New York Jew. That’s her. Very pleasant, just an odd combo. Somehow I hit the lab tech jackpot and got a two for one deal. The other is a little bitty super nice and quiet, sweet black lady. I’m super entertained, despite feeling like death, and rather curious as to how this is going to go. One of them is a trainer and one a trainee. The fact that I don’t know which is which should have perhaps set off warning bells.

So they’re checking my info, making sure I am who I claim to be (Who would impersonate someone for lab orders? And why? Just for kicks?), and talking about my flu swab. I half-heartedly laugh that it can’t be as bad as the strep test and I’ve had 539 of those. She tells me that it’s worse, torture and totally miserable, I’ll gag, my eyes will water, etc. Let me just state that while I like to know what is going to be done/inserted/injected into my body, I prefer techs who don’t make me want to cry like an infant getting shots at the doc. Can’t wait!

She grabs 2 ginormous swabs, tells me to lean back and open my mouth. I’m confused as this seems to be going just like a strep test but since they’re the professionals I figure they know what they’re doing. They argue for awhile about the correct way to attempt this. One swab at a time, same time, how far back. Pennette says she’d like to torture me as little as possible so they’ll do both at once. I gag and choke (which causes them to leap across the room out of range of my coughing, like I’m a sprinkler of germs. It’s kind of hard to cover your mouth when people are shoving things down your throat) but didn’t kick anyone in their bad knee (did this more than once, accidentally, to my pediatrician. Who I saw until I got pregnant. At 23. Seriously.) so I counted it as a success.

“Ooopsy! We used the wrong swabs so we have to do it again.”  How many types of swabs ARE there? So they have to try again with two, really identical to the first two looking swabs. Since my mind has been refreshed and they’ve already screwed up once (keep in mind I have TWO people, not the normal one doing this and everything involves at least a 5 minute discussion back and forth before they can do anything. I feel like a guinea pig.) I am rather hesitant. I get told I have an “overly strong tongue that is hard to depress” in very accusatory tones. I’m sorry? Not sure what the appropriate response here is folks. I gag and choke and cry again and get told I can go. I thank them, because even when I’m on my deathbed, I try to be polite.

A whopping 5 minutes down the road, my phone rings. Normally I don’t answer unknown numbers, and now I know why I instated that very wise policy, as it is Pennette telling me they did the tests wrong (second time if you’re counting) and I have to come back.

After they sit me down, I get explained that flu swabs are done thru the nose. Okay, so why didn’t they do that? Apparently Pennette said I confused her by mentioning strep tests (how that changed my lab orders is beyond me but it’s totally my fault according to her). The sweet, quiet lady takes over and comes at me with 2 swabs. She shoves one up each nostril and I swear to all things holy that something  popped in my brain. I cry. Again. It hurt. So since one is going to the CDC and one is staying here, she wants to know who gets the right nostril and who gets the left (super sexy topic today). Pennette fusses again, not at me for a change. So they shove each swab up each nostril again because flu swabs need boogers from both nostrils. I was unaware flu tests were,  a. so complex and b. that the boogers were drastically different in your various nostrils. ( So this is 3 or 4 they’ve messed up? I’ve lost count.) THEN it occurs to them, after much spirited debate, that what if they stuck the same swab in the same nostril and didn’t get them swapped and each swab is still left with it’s own, separate right and left nostril boogers. Catastrophe of world ending proportions!  At this point in time my nose is a little bloody and I am for real crying. The two year old having blood taken down the hall? Nothing on me. (Keep in mind I could barely walk and had a 102 degree fever. I’m normally not such a, complete, baby.)

I try to reason with them, does it really matter? Can my snot be that different? Is it mutating in one side? Is one side more Spongebob and the other more Patrick consistency and color? Why can’t I blow my nose really hard, since they have loosened bits of my brain, and we can roll the swabs around in that for awhile? No. Pennette said no, but still maintaining she doesn’t want to torture me. Sweet lady was willing to let me slide. I explain to them my fear of things being stuck UP my nose. My childhood trauma of getting Reese’s Pieces stuck up my nose, having to be straight-jacketed to have them removed when I saw the instruments of destruction they wanted to shove into my delicate, baby-sized nasal cavity, the fact that by the time all that got done it was for naught as  they melted down my throat-forever ruining all things chocolate and peanut butter combined. I can’t even handle other people indulging in my presencewithout getting a little nauseous and twitchy.

No. A firm no. So THIS time, I get 2 swabs simultaneously stuck up one side and then the other. The executioner, err Pennette, tells me this orifice was much more accommodating then my tongue and she got some excellent boogers (that’s an exact quote. Really, I wrote it down as soon as I walked out the door). Again, what do I say? I didn’t know if I was supposed to apologize before so do I thank her now?

And people wonder why health care costs are so high. A simple 5 minute, 2 swab procedure stretched into an hour and 142 swabs!

My sweet husband, who no longer thinks I make this shit up having witnessed similar things, kindly offers to get my prescriptions. I taste my cough syrup and cry again. Why do they only add free flavors for the kids?

I call my mother to tell her what the doctor said and if Abby can come hang out away from my den of infection since she just finished her meds (we’ll call her patient 1) and when I let it slip that the doc had me tested for flu and swine flu, I swear to god my mother emits this combo sound gasp of glee/cackle of the witched witch.

“I knew you had swine flu. Knew it. Knew it. Knew it. You’ve had it since you came back from Mexico. I knew you couldn’t travel without getting sick,” my mother says as she does an I told you so dance around her kitchen (I’m guessing).

“Um, mom, we came back from Mexico on May 2nd. Tested healthy leaving the country. Haven’t been sick this whole time. Pretty sure it’s just a precaution.”

“No, you have THE swine flu. Have Jason bring Ab over immediately right now so you don’t infect her. And don’t come or you’ll permeate the car air with your swine flu germs.”

Pleasantly surprised she didn’t request a  hazmat suit and  just glad I can go collapse, I let it go. Although my mother does have a little bit of a point. It’s already been established, repeatedly, that if anything will happen to anyone-it’s me. J taunted me the entire time we were in Mexico with teases of you’re totally going to get swine flu, there’s no way you could be near an international disaster/epidemic/scene without being a part of it. So I am putting it down for all posterity because, for once, I wasn’t. No swine flu, or Sw(h)ine flu as the media frenzy has caused me to refer to it now.

Now that I am no on the floor dry-heaving with a 103 plus fever and convinced I am dying while my husband looks on convinced I am dehydrated and tells me he is either taking me to the hospital or shoving a tube up my butt and forcing water in me (I think he was kidding but he was in the Army so you never know. And I am still coughing ridiculously and painfully), I can laugh about it. And while I don’t believe the cliche that laughter is always the best medicine, this cough syrup is pretty lovely, it certainly can help make almost anything better.

© Amy Lloyd Mayfield and Amy’s Blam, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Lloyd Mayfield and Amy’s Blam with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. amyblam permalink
    July 11, 2009 11:44 AM

    Update: My mother just called me. She is convinced that someone has told me I am quarantined. Someone Official. I can go places, I just don’t feel good enough to. Argh!

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  1. Kroger & Mexico (not even closely related subject wise) « Amy's Blam

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