Thursday my throat was scratchy from post-nasal drip and my nose was
running like a faucet with a worn out rubber gasket. I had a cough. I
felt crappy. I was hopefully optimistic that my usual medicinal herbal teas and homemade turkey soup and mass quantities of Vitamin C would frighten the cooties away.
Friday, crappy had given way to shitty. The scratchy throat was gone
but the nose was still running, switching sides every few hours and
clogged ears to double the fun. The cough was still hanging in there
and faint wheeze began to accompany the ensemble somewhere during the
late afternoon and early evening. I followed up dinner with a dose of
Guaifenesin and more tea. By 7 PM Friday night, the nose had clogged
and I was searching the every junk drawer, nook and hidey-hole for
wayward inhalers to stop the incessant wheeze that had settled in my
trachea and was threatening to cut off what was left of my shallow air
supply. I spent the night half-sitting up in bed, waking every few
hours to cough or pee, often both with a chaser of more medicine and
hits off the inhalers.
By 6 AM Saturday morning, I had retreated
to my trusty recliner, that bit of upholstered magic that eases pain
and most things that ail me. I had given up on the teas, the vitamins,
and the medicine. It wasn’t helping. The only thing that seemed to work
were the inhalers. It hurt to cough- everywhere. By 9 AM, Manthing’s
sister called to let us know they were going to his Dad’s house to
clean it while he is away on a vacation. It was my idea and I did feel
well-enough so off we went.
At several intervals during the
morning, Manthing asked me if we needed to make a trip to the local
Doc-in-the-Box. I was wheezing full-time now and using the inhaler more
often than I should. Still, I couldn’t make up my mind. I hoped I could
get through it without being all inconvenient and burden-like. I
continued cleaning the family room and decided to holler a silent
"Uncle", when my chest tightened and hurt while finishing up with the
vacuum. I laid down on the floor to rest. If could just rest awhile,
I’d be able to continue and do my share. Manthing looked at me
skeptically and asked, "Doc-in-the-Box?" to which I responded, "I can
this time I could not hide my labored breathing and the wheeze was
probably audible in the next county, not mention the deep, bellowing,
hacking cough that made me sound like a emphysemic elephant seal. He
disappeared for a minute and when he returned he looked down at me and
delivered his edict.
"Okay. Let’s go. We did this your way. Now we’re going to do this my way. We are going to go get rid of this shit".
is it when I say stuff like that to you when you’re sick, you me blow
me off"?, I asked with all the feigned indignation I could muster as we
got into the truck.
"I don’t blow you off. You worry enough without my adding to it. Besides, my way is better".
"OH. Sorry. I must not be getting enough oxygen. I forgot THAT," I said not unsarcastically.
"I’m glad to see the lack of oxygen hasn’t cut off your ability to be a smartass".
I merely stuck my tongue out at him in response.
you want to get in to see an urgent care doctor quickly, just go in
winded from the trip from your vehicle parked in the disabled parking
less than 200 feet away and ask them how soon you will be seen because
you have chest tightness and pain and cannot breathe.
receptionist looked at me critically and told me she’d get a nurse to
evaluate. The nurse took one look at me and led me to an empty exam
room. The receptionist followed and checked me in while a medical
assistant checked my temperature and blood pressure. Next she asked me
for my height and weight and the following series of questions:
"Are you still menstruating, sweetie"?
"What was the date of your last period"?
"Uhmmmmm (wheezewheeze)…the middle of last month; the 15th?(cough;wheeze;wheeze)"
"Was it normal"? she asked helpfully.
"As normal as it gets at my age (wheezewheezewheeze).
She found this very amusing and laughing she patted my shoulder.
The doctor whisked in breathlessly, looking rather concerned and asked me why I was there.
I have a cold and cannot breathe. (wheezewheezewheeze) The inhalers are
not working". Without answering, she placed her stethoscope on my chest
and asked me when it started, calling me "hon". As I attempted to
answer her, she predictably asked me to be quiet so she could hear my
lungs, "I need you to be quiet so I can hear, sugar". Once she was done
and had ordered the nebulizer for the breathing treatment, she asked me
what I was trying to tell her when she was listening to my lungs. I
looked at her blankly, trying to grasp what it was I was saying only
moments before and I couldn’t remember. "Uhhhhmm, I can’t remember," I
In all honesty, it was all I could do to
breathe and keep track of the activity going on around me. Between the
doctor, the nurse, the medical assistant and the receptionist, I was
having a hard determining who was doing what and why. I know I must
have been in distress because none of this nonsense was even remotely
annoying to me at the time.
10 minutes later with a plastic nozzle stuck in my piehole and the nebulizer’s hum to meditate to, I was
leaning back against the wall in a chair, enjoying the ability to
breathe nearly effortlessly and amusing myself with the chorus of a
song about crack addiction called "Devil’s Johnson" by a now defunct
local L.A. band called Ethyl Meatplow. The chorus went something like: "Smokin’ on the devil’s johnson, smokin’ on the devil’s johnson, smokin’ on the devil’s johnson and he’s gonna suck you dry…"
Okay so it’s a bit odd and uh..colorful… but this shouldn’t surprise
you coming from me. Besides, I was about 4 years sober and was a fan,
saw them live, etc etc. Anyway, I heard a light knock on the door jam
and in walked a worried-looking Manthing.
"I thought you were going to come back to the waiting room".
shook my head as I pulled the nozzle away from my mouth for a second.
"Evidently they felt that the waiting room was not where I needed to
be. Did you get worried"?
"Kind of but not really". Master of understatement and machismo is my Manthing.
now we know the best way to get immediate attention at the Doc-In-The
Box. I wasn’t expecting them to shoo me into an exam room so quickly".
Being the electronics and techno-wonk that he is, Manthing proceeded to investigate the nebulizer to figure out how it worked.
I followed his eyes travel along the hose to the nozzle in my mouth and
medication dispenser back down to the machine itself where the sterile
water and liquid albueterol rested.
"Ah. I see. It’s basically
an air compressor that pushes air into that thing", he pointed to the
nozzle in my mouth and the small, green plastic vaporizer in my hand.
nodded and took the nozzle out of my mouth and said "Yeah. The stuff in
the pink plastic vials is sterile water and the stuff in the bottle is
liquid albuterol… you know the stuff in my inhaler".
It was Manthing’s turn to nod. "Put that back in your mouth and keep breathing. Don’t waste the medicine".
mein furor", I said dryly, rolling my eyes for which I received a
raised eyebrow and Manthing’s nearly trademarked hairy eyeball.
few minutes later the nebulizer nozzle gurgled, sputtered and ran out
of vapor. The doctor came in and listened to my lungs and told me she
wanted me to hang out for a few minutes.
"I feel like could sleep
for 100 years", I said to Manthing. He reached over from the footstool
he was sitting on and squeezed my knee in reply.
So there we sat
listening to the footfalls beyond the drawn curtain trying to determine
which ones would signal an entrance. When the doctor re-entered she
wanted to see my inhalers and had my orders. A prednisone shot in the
butt, scripts for a new inhaler, a course of prednisone in tablet form
Yay, me. Not so much.
to the drug store we went, where I picked up not only the two new
medicines but the 3 waiting for me to bring them home which made me
feel like a full-fledged geezer. Manthing made sure I was properly
ensconced (trapped) in bed with water, medicines, remote control and
cough drops before going back to his father’s to finish helping his
sisters and nieces clean house. I fell asleep watching The Big Country
(1958; Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charleton Heston, Chuck Connors
& Burl Ives) on TCM. When I woke
a few hours later, the movie was ending, I was breathing much easier
and I was hungry. When you have to choose between eating and breathing,
oxygen trumphs food.
So we ordered pizza when Manthing got home and it was good.
Now today I am wondering:
did the medical assistant ask me if I was still having my period? Did I
somehow look, I don’t know, TWENTY years older than I am? At 43 the
length and intensity of my "Auntie’s" visits are a bit unpredictable
but by no means gone. Dammit.
Why do they all call you "sweetie" or "sugar" or "hon"?
the hell do they ask you questions and then tell you to shut up, rather
than give the opportunity to answer? If they can do it on ER, it can be
done at Doc-In-The-Box. Right?
How pathetic is it that it takes cooties and an asthma attack to update this blog properly?