Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Aggressive Upper Respiratory Infection

a few weeks ago, doc said it was “acute bronchitis aided by bacteria.” next stop on the infirmary train would be pneumonia if i left it untreated, but to me it already feels like pneumonia, or at least its seedling. i’ve been coughing for six weeks. no joke. i also haven’t had a solid night’s rest in six weeks, being that i’m awakened countless times throughout the night to get a good cough out, wet my irritated throat with water and take a few deep breaths to return the oxygen to my brain.

until i saw the doctor earlier in the week, i had convinced myself that i had TB and would need to be quarantined. i feared that i might be arrested if i didn’t do the quarantine like that guy who was in the news a month back for flying with TB. i wondered if i could have crossed paths with him and been exposed. maybe he was that drunken guy from the Knitting Factory in early June who stood too close to me at the bar. i swear that guy breathed on my drink. i even began to prepare for the quarantine, trying to figure out who could watch my dogs and wondering would they have WiFi at the TB clinic?

i’ve begun my second round of antibiotics, with this one being some super strong antibiotic made for horses or something. when i went to fill the prescription, the pharmacist was like, “wow, do you have pneumonia?” i guess the sub par Amoxicillin of the first round just won’t treat such an aggressive infection, one that’s causing my lungs to crawl up my throat in an effort to escape my diseased body. plus there’s the Mucusin that is forcing the — yep, you guessed it — mucus to crawl up along with my lungs, maybe to better lubricate their journey. and there’s also the cough medicine with codeine that is giving me some crazy dreams, including a very surreal semi-nightmare the other night that had me on a roadtrip with all my ex-boyfriends.

i feel dumb, like it’s my fault. even strangers on the street think it’s my fault. a few weeks back as i was walking to Whole Foods, coughing my brains out, i passed an old russian guy on the street who heard my bark, looked right at me, finger pointed and yelled “don’t smoke!!!” in russian. startled, i kept walking, took a moment to process the event before turning around and yelling back, also in russian, “i don’t smoke!!” what a fucker. i haven’t had a cigarette in months. before those months maybe, but that has nothing to do with now. neither does having been a heavy smoker for six years back in the day. i mean, come on.

am i complaining enough? please humor me some more, because that’s what good blog readers do and you guys are the best blog readers in the world. i also have a story about the trip to the doctor’s office, which sadly didn’t include a lollipop or bright sticker at its conclusion like it did when i was a kid.

instead i had to visit the USC Health Sciences campus just north of downtown for a coveted same-day appointment, which means i get to see a different doctor every time as well as the ever-friendly med students who do the intake. the one this time looked younger than me and seemed scared as hell to talk to or touch me. she began by asking why i came in, and i kindly supplied her with a demonstration of the barking cough that has been charming those around me for weeks. i went on for about five minutes rattling off a list of my symptoms only to have her nod vigorously without writing a single thing down.

she then stopped and glanced down at her blank sheet, looking defeated. “i’m a third-year medical student and this is my first day ever working with patients,” she smiled meekly. “and the doctor wanted me to finish your intake in 15 minutes so he could leave by five.”

i had to appreciate her honesty. she seemed so genuine that i tried not to let her inexperience irritate me. but after another five minutes of her looking lost and apologetic, i had no other choice but to grab the clipboard and write down a list of my symptoms, saying, “don’t worry about a thing, sweetie. i’d love to leave by five, too. let’s get this party started.”

she seemed relieved, thanked me for being “cool” and eventually resumed control of her clipboard, but she still managed to prolong the intake to 25 minutes by asking every last question on the sheet, including “are you having homicidal thoughts and is anyone abusing you?”

i wanted to say, “sweetie, is that the intake sheet for teenagers? because i’m here for a cough, so no, my daddy’s not touching me weird. is the doctor free yet?” but instead i smiled politely and showed what i believe to be an alarming amount of self-restraint by breathing out a simple “no and no.”

finally the doctor came in and damn was he ever cute — and in a very not-my-type sort of way, meaning he looked a bit Aryan when i generally prefer them darker. still, i began to entertain the idea that i would need a house call later when i could try on his white coat and test out his bedside manner, heh heh. but i quickly dropped any illusion that our interaction was flirtatious when he began talking about the diarrhea all my new medications could cause.

and so far the only thing the medication has caused is insomnia. note the time stamp. i can’t sleep at all.

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