Monday, February 25, 2008

"Tales from the Crypt" or "Monday Morning at the Walk-In Clinic"

I dragged my sick butt to the Indian Clinic this morning and let me tell you, I've never been there to experience the walk-in clinic on a Monday morning during Flu season. I never want to again either.

I got there about 10 till and since it was cold and sprinkling I opted to stay in the van. The two folks waiting at the door were looking at those of us in our vehicles as if to say, "Haha! We are at the door and therefore we have achieved VICTORY!" Eh, let 'em have their victory. I wasn't cold and wet.

When the nice government employee opened the door from the inside, I swear it was like watching the beginning of the zombie dance scene from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. People came hobbling and crawling out of cars, vans, trucks, cracks in the sidewalk, a manhole cover slide aside and out lurched some half-dead coughing corpse thing. I was the hacking woman-zombie with no makeup and a sloppy ponytail, carrying a copy of The Good Earth and a leopard-print purse.

The line of zombies snaked around the corner by the time I got inside and even though no one had had to wait more than about 3 minutes at that point, everyone was already cranky. Me, I figure, look,'s free healthcare. Beggars can't be choosers, ya know? I know I'm going to have to wait, I know I'm going to get seen sooner or later, that's why I bring a book. You can either go with a good attitude or a bad one. Most of the zombies left their good ones in the crypt, evidently.

When it came to be my turn at the window the clerk had to lean precariously close to my germy self in order to hear me whisper, but she was kind and sympathetic and said she'd get my chart back to triage. I sat down by the door and got out my book. I didn't want anyone to come out and ask me to wear a mask, so I tried best as I could to not cough. And really, the coughing is mostly caused by talking, laughing and sometimes breathing, so as long as I avoid those things, I'm good. The not breathing sometimes gets interesting, though.

Around 8:45 my name was called over the intercom and I made my way back to the triage clinic. My favorite nurse was with someone else - her name is Toots and how can you NOT like someone named Toots? I mean, really? I don't think you can't. But I got a different nurse who seemed a little impatient at my lack of voice and that I couldn't remember the exact date of my last period (what that has to do with my being sick, I'll never know). She warmed up after awhile and I tried to keep in mind that I'm sure Monday mornings are wore there than they are at most places of employment. Eventually I think she realized just how bad I felt because she got me an appointment for 9:45 with the PA that felt me up just last month. I had heard earlier in the waiting room that someone got an appointment for 1:45, so 9:45 was awesome.

It was 9 by then and thankfully I decided to stay at the clinic to wait because at 9:15 they called me back. And after listening and looking and hearing me whisper my symptoms she told me I have THE FLU.

Well, duh.

She also told me I couldn't have TamiFlu because I'd waited too long. I didn't want TamiFlu, I told her. She told me I couldn't have antibiotics because they wouldn't do any good. I told her I knew that. She said she'd give me an inhaler and some cough syrup, which aside from a bullet to the head, sounded great. She said there was no evidence of pneumonia yet, so she wouldn't give me any steroids. Dang. She left the room to write my prescriptions then came back a few minutes later to tell me I'm allergic to codeine. Again, duh. Then she said the only cough syrup she had to prescribe from the clinic was guaifenesin with codeine - essentially Mucinex with a kick. Or in my case, Mucinex with a side of skull-crushing headache followed by uncontrollable vomiting. I asked her about Tussionex, which I can take, but she said it was too expensive for someone without insurance and she wouldn't prescribe it. HUH? Sorry? I have money, just no insurance.

So I went back to the waiting room to read more of the drought and famine that was slowly killing Wang Lung and his family in pre-revolutionary China and to wait for my lone prescription of an albuterol inhaler to be filled. Coumadin Man was busy when I was called to the Pharmacy, but as I was leaving he did manage to say, "Get well, sickie!" Have I mentioned that I think Coumadin Man is adorable and he's my favorite pharmacist ever? Yes, he reads this blog. I hope I made him blush.

Then I went to my van to call my mom and of course, cried. What is it about being sick and talking to my mom that makes me cry? I guess it's the little girl in me or something. Of course, I don't think she knew I was crying because I couldn't talk above a whisper anyway. Mom told me to go by her house because Pops had playfully scolded her for not being sympathetic enough to me, so she made us dinner (chicken casserole!) and it was in the fridge. And there was also a present on the counter - Stephen King's last book written as Richard Bachman, Blaze. She spoils me. Rotten.

On my way to Mom's I called my supervisor and got her voice mail. I whispered a message that essentially said I have THE FLU and a doctor's slip to stay home till Thursday. I picked up my loot from Mom's, stopped at McDonald's for an extra-large sweet tea and came home. I puffed some albuterol, popped some Mucinex and ibuprofen and curled up on the couch to watch All My Children. I thought about taking one of Sam's leftover Vicodin from when he broke his arm last summer, but decided to wait until night for that.

Funny story about that Vicodin.... night before last I had taken one at bedtime and it knocked me out enough that I slept for a couple hours without coughing too much, so last night I decided to take two and hoped that I could sleep longer. Essentially, what I did was get freakin' wasted. I took them after I tucked the kids in last night, thinking I had an hour or so before I'd go to bed and would be good and pain-free, relaxed and ready for sleep. About 20 minutes after taking them, suddenly my eyes wouldn't focus on the game of solitaire I was playing and my feet were no longer there and I was strangely nauseous. I hoisted myself up off the couch and staggered down the hall to the bathroom, thinking I was going to barf. I sat on the toilet to pee, put the trashcan between my legs......and fell asleep. I am such a lightweight.

I woke up on the pot ten or so minutes later to find my legs asleep, the nausea gone, but I still couldn't focus my eyes. I staggered back up the hall the living room where Paul was playing PlayStation. He gave me a funny look and asked, "What's wrong with you?" I slurred, "I think I'm stonnnnnned." He busted out laughing and said, "Go to bed, Cheech. And dear? Next time only take one, k?" I gave him the thumbs up and next thing I remember it was 4am, I was still fully clothed, sprawled out on my bed, glasses still on, remote in my right hand, but I don't remember ever turning on or off the TV. Them Vicodins good stuff.


Anonymous said...

So if you're so sick why are you still having to drive yourself to appointments and the drug store and such? I mean, come on! Someone should have mercy on you and at least play chauffeur, for cripes sake!
I really feel bad for you after reading this. I hope you feel better soon, hon.
A maternal unit who cares.

Lady Beekeeper said...

Sweetheart, you are a walking germ. Stay under the covers. I hope you feel better, soon. I am afraid that not only do you have the flu, you probably caught something from the guy at McDonalds. Or maybe the clinic.

How are the kids?

Jax said...

Enjoy the Vicodins sweetie! I hope you are better soon, by then the kids will be all well and good so you can pass it back to them! What fun spring break will be huh? j/k I really hope your back to good soon!!!

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