Wheezy

Every time I hear the word “wheezy,” I picture the old Comedy Central show Viva Variety. When my doctor said it as he was listening to my chest, my mind went to the old commercial advertising the show where the two main characters are standing in front of the Jefferson Monument, and a female character in a deep Russian accent says, “dat statue don’t look nothing like George Jefferson… and where da heck is Weezy?” It was nice to laugh through pain, as I am wont to do… I don’t feel any better, but laughter is great as opposed to crying my eyes out that I really am as sick as I thought. There is nothing like that feeling in the pit of your stomach that says strange things are afoot at the Circle-K… flipping into another movie quote because it’s what I do. There’s a movie quote for everything. I wish I had gone to Urgent care on Wednesday, but like I said earlier, the true depth and breadth of my weird shitometer didn’t go off until Friday, and by that time, I slept for almost 24 hours straight. There was no way I could gather enough strength to drive myself over until that happened… another reason it sucks being single. Every single one of my girlfriends would have leapt into action, so this is not about missing Dana. It’s missing her role in my life, as well as anyone else who has been kind enough to tolerate dating me. 🙂

The Zofran is working… sort of. The Lomotil is helping immensely. For all the doctors in the crowd, please let me know if I can up the dosage on the Zofran, which is 4mg i BID. In fact, it was funny. When I got into the exam room and my doctor came to see me (Roscoe Adams at the Urgent Care in downtown Silver Spring- AMAZING), I told him that I needed to be tested for the flu, but regardless I needed Lomotil and Zofran. He said, “you took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks for making my job easy.” I told him that after being a doctor’s kid and a former medical assistant, I’d picked up a little along the way. He said, “you’ve picked up way more than a little. Thanks for doing your homework.” If by “doing my homework” he meant doing absolutely nothing but drawing on my history, then by all means. Let him think I pored over WebMD.

My personal victory in those days was that the doctor and I both had red hair, and looked a little similar because of it. I walked into the exam room, and the patient, thinking I was the doctor, dropped her pants. After getting over the initial shock, I saw the familiar pattern of shingles. I went to the nurse’s station and said, “Doctor, I think it’s shingles.” She came out of the room and said “good pickup…” which, to a medical assistant is like a hug from Jesus. I walked on air for several days over that one.

Medical assistants rarely get to do more than take vitals and a chief complaint. It’s rare that we get to take a shot at a diagnosis. But I remembered a line from the doctor, that the rash generally rides along the nerve that goes from your belly button to the small of your back. It doesn’t always present this way, but if you have sores running around your body like that, it’s an excellent guess… which is why medicine is an art sometimes and not an exact science. Some things have clear indicators, others you have to study hard to find out what might be wrong. Rheumatologists have it the worst, because autoimmune disease patients often get sent to 10 or 15 doctors who have no idea what it is until they get to you… and insurance companies pay little to get you to think, but a lot when you have to cut something out. This is one of the reasons that being paid a salary by a medical group is so important. If your practice is mostly Medicare patients, running your own business can sink you into the ground, running the practice at a loss.

And then there’s the people who walk away from medical debt entirely, rendering the doctor into “working for free,” because the Hippocratic Oath means more than a check. “Bank” on it.

Single payer health care is the only way to go in terms of making sure that doctors get to do what they do best- getting paid for practicing medicine. There are no classes in medical school that deal with running your own practice, although that may have gotten better over time. But the business aspects take away from everything for which you’ve trained, because you didn’t study business. You studied medicine. Salaried doctors are where it’s at. It’s gotten so bad that the only way doctors can make money is if they don’t take insurance at all, and/or become one of those “concierge doctors” that will make house calls. For instance, let’s say a new patient appointment with a specialist is $200. Medicare makes an art of taking those claims and maybe sending you back $35. This makes no sense when medical school can cost upwards of $110,000 for somewhere decent.

My friend Keith went into the Navy to help pay his student loans, and it still took him 10-15 years to erase it completely. Of course, this is the same Keith that when I went to see him, immediately told him I was a lesbian and there was no need to run a pregnancy test and he called me “sassy.” Probably one of the cutest and most accurate compliments I’ve ever gotten. 🙂 I call him my friend as well as my doctor because that’s what happens when you have a doctor in the family. The same doctors that treat you invariably show up in social occasions as well.

Plus, even if you’ve never gotten sued, malpractice insurance on top of student loans is on the ridiculous.

I want to treat doctors well, because they’ve always treated me in kind.

I owe Dr. Adams a finely-crafted cocktail with appetizers. It’s a shame I won’t be able to give it to him, because he totally deserves it. I’m better now. Not perfect, but on the mend.

The flu just royally bites, but thanks to him, I won’t suffer too much longer… and that’s worth its weight in gold.

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