September 17th, 2012

tea

Sometimes You Need a Doctor

After going way too long trying to convince myself that I was getting better, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't and dragged myself to the doctor. The diagnosis was acute bronchitis, but it was apparently bad enough that they did a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. They gave me a steroid shot to ease the inflammation in the airways, and then put me on a powerful antibiotic and gave me some killer cough syrup. I'm already feeling better, but as I learned when I let the cough syrup wear off so I could run a couple of essential errands this morning, I'm still not well.

I went to one of those CareNow places that I generally consider "doc in the box," but I have to say that this was the best medical care I've received in years. One of the reasons I get stubborn and try to tough it out is that most of the time, even though I only go to the doctor when it's absolutely essential, they still seem to treat me like I'm a hypochondriac, like it's all in my head and I'm a real weenie for not being able to tough it out. They're very patronizing and condescending, and I feel like I could have buzzards circling overhead and an undertaker with a tape measure following me around, and they'd still act like I was wasting their time with something trivial. But these people were all great. They took me seriously, listened to me and treated me like I had a brain. It helped that the doctor turned out to be a science fiction fan. He asked if I might have been exposed to anything recently, and I told him I'd been at WorldCon, so I'd probably been exposed to a lot of things. So we chatted a bit about science fiction. He's a big Douglas Adams fan and was impressed that I know Alan Dean Foster. With the X-ray, it seems I have very photogenic lungs. The tech was in awe, saying she'd never seen a real-life X-ray that looked that much like the illustrations in the textbook. It was a perfect image, just the way it's supposed to look. I suspect it helps that I don't have a lot of extra flesh to blur anything on the upper body, I have good posture, and I'm a singer, so when they tell me to take a deep breath to expand the rib cage, they get a really deep breath that really expands the ribs all over. And then they called me the next day to see how I was doing, to see if I had any questions and to remind me that even if I'm feeling better, I need to finish all the antibiotics. Now that I know they're good at this place, I may be more likely to go to a doctor next time I get sick because I have a place to go that I like. I also got a clean bill of health, aside from the bronchitis, since my blood pressure and pulse were good, my heart sounded good, my lungs look clear and my weight is just right. That was one reason they took the illness so seriously, that it was wrong for someone this healthy to be this sick.

The cough syrup is interesting, though. It's one of those "you know you're a writer when" things because I'm noting how it affects me so I can use this when I need to have a character who's been drugged or under a spell. It makes me woozy, but it doesn't really knock me out. I can stay awake all day. I'm just not entirely functional. I can't walk a straight line across the room, and my reaction speed and thought processes slow to a crawl. I'm not trusting myself with heating appliances that don't shut themselves off, so when I was out on my morning errands, I picked up some microwave meals. I'm limiting myself to the electric teakettle, the toaster oven and the microwave for a while. What's really odd is that I can take in information and understand it. I was watching World War II documentaries on the History Channel yesterday and retaining the information, and I was able to follow plots on Leverage and Doctor Who. I have a lot more trouble getting information out. With even the easiest question, I have to stop and think a while, and even then I'm not sure I trust my answer. I have to pay careful attention when typing because I'll type a totally different word than I meant, just because both words have similar letters, or I'll start typing one word and finish with another. I think I'm only managing this post because the last dose I took hasn't yet really kicked in. It also gives me really weird dreams in weird ways. I don't fall asleep instantly -- I think a lot of what it does is help me stay asleep, and it stops the coughing that wakes me up -- but while I'm drifting off, I'm dreaming while still conscious. It's not like a daydream, in that I'm not in control of the dream, but I'm aware that I'm dreaming. But it's just blips of dreams, like trying to watch TV with a channel surfer who just flips through channels with the remote. And then sometimes bits of one dream will follow into the next one. A lot of these dreams have involved TV shows I've been watching, so characters from one show will end up in another one. The Doctor landed in a lot of stuff last night.

That would make a fun Twilight Zone style story, where the characters on TV get frustrated with a channel surfer and follow him from channel to channel, determined to play their story out.

But I will have to write it when I'm a little more coherent. I think I'll be spending the rest of the day on the sofa because the drugs have really kicked in. Oh, and I'm on doctor's orders to drink tea! The information sheet about bronchitis they gave me said to drink hot liquids like tea. I also need to do that because one side effect of the antibiotics is a nasty metallic taste, and constantly sipping at something helps keep it at bay. While I was out today I picked up some of those Listerine strips so when I wake up in the middle of the night with the nasty taste, I can pop one of those in and go back to sleep. Last night, I used sugar-free gum, but I had to remember to spit it out before going back to sleep.