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Sicko: The Sequel
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I confess—in the past I’ve complained about people who don’t dress well for winter; who bitch about it being miserable here from December through March—but now, I’ve joined your ranks. I’m sick of winter and can’t wait for it to be over. What’s caused my change of mind? Pneumonia.
It started with what I thought was a stubborn cold. I had the worst chills I’d ever had in my life. Brief physical exertion would have me exploding into an instant sweat. After a week, I asked one of my bosses if he could give me shorter routes for the next few days. He gave me that “you should be well by now” look, and asked me what I meant by “shorter routes.” I tried to explain what I meant. Anyway, I went to the doctor and was given medicine that seemed to put me in a coma. I reluctantly went into work after a three-day weekend of sleeping and not feeling any better.
That night, my chest started hurting. I asked to be taken off the schedule for a week, because I was still sick. After sleeping all day Tuesday, I woke up at quarter to 10 with chest pains on my left side. I pondered my choices: take some Tylenol P.M. and go back to sleep, call my brother, or call Robert. I dismissed the Tylenol idea, because if I was having a heart attack, I didn’t want to fall asleep and then die. Calling my brother was out, because I felt like I’d be in for a half-hour of questioning before getting a guarantee of a ride to the E.R. So it had to be Robert. Luckily, he was just getting off work and didn’t ask any questions when I asked him to take me to the emergency room. The weather was lousy, and it took an hour and a half to get there.
It wasn’t quite standing room only, but it was close. After checking in, we were entertained by watching some moron direct someone into a parking space. We were convinced there would be another E.R. patient, as the guy was in front of the car, and the vehicle kept creeping forward. Robert said the only reason the guy wasn’t getting run over is because he had the “force field of stupidity” surrounding him. That’s when you do something incredibly dangerous, yet you don’t get hurt, because, well…you know.
Having been a veteran of several emergency room visits with my parents, I fully expected to languish in the waiting room for several hours. After only a couple hours, I was assigned a cubicle. Things seemed to happen every hour after that. Pain meds, then a chest x-ray, then a blood draw, then a CAT scan. Everything else was okay; it was the big glob of crap in my left lung that was causing the problem.
I did get meds that are doing the job. But the weather wasn’t helping me any. Not that it should have mattered; I didn’t leave the house for days after my diagnosis. But waking up to gray skies and 20 degrees every day made me thankful I was too sick to go out. I spent a lot of time in bed sleeping, reading and trying not to worry about my health.
In a way, I felt embarrassed and guilty. How could I have let myself get so sick? I prided myself on more than ten years of being flu-less. If I had a cold, it was usually mild and I could get on with my life with only a few extra pills to take to dry up my runny nose. Not this time, though. Neither one of the over the counter medicines I took made a dent, but come to think of it, the stuff my first doctor described didn’t do anything either. He did say it would get worse before it got better, so he was right about that.
One other thing: as I was being registered, the woman asked me if I wanted a copy of the HIPAA form. I waved it away; having collected several leaflets from my parents’ visits to the E.R. Besides, added Robert, it’s all going to be in my column anyway.
Minus the phlegm, which incidentally, was a brownish yellow color. I left out the phlegm, because that’s just too much information.