16 November 2010

Near-Death Experience

First post in a long, long time. Shame on me. Life has been uncommonly busy the last few months.

It didn't help that I lost most of a day yesterday to a health-related much-ado-about-&c.

I've been feeling a little chest congestion for the last few days — nothing serious, but it can't hurt to be sure, right? So, as soon as I arrived at work yesterday morning, I stuck my head into the Ruckers health services to rule out bronchitis. I thought they'd slap a stethoscope on me, ask me to breathe deeply twice, and send me on my way.

Nope: they interpreted "congestion" as "difficulty breathing," then somehow added "chest pains" to the list (where did that come from?). They said they couldn't in good conscience let me leave without zipping me to the emergency room. My protestations were in vain: clearly I was in denial. I got to enjoy an ambulance ride to the hospital, all of four blocks away ("Are you able to stand on your own, sir?"), where I experienced four hours of that unique combination of stifling boredom, extreme discomfort, and nagging anxiety you find only in a hospital. I got EKGs, X-rays, blood work, all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched.

Finally they released me, in more or less the condition I was when I came in.

Well, less.
I nearly had to go back to another ER a few hours later.

During the day I listed for the nurse all the drugs I take. They then treated me with Albuterol to ease the congestion in the lungs. That'd be swell, except that, as I discovered when I read my discharge instructions on the train ride home, Albuterol interacts very badly with one of my meds: the warning sheet advises "extreme caution" if you take them within two weeks of one another. I made a few calls, and my pharmacist and my internist warned me that I might experience tachycardia and hypotension. Boy, they wasn't kidding: all night my heart was pounding at 120+ bpm and my blood pressure was 103/57.

I've come to accept that I'm probably not marked for great things in this world. I do hope, though, to have something slightly more impressive on my tombstone than "He died at forty-three of post-nasal drip."


Anonymous said...

This is what's wrong with our health care system: It's hysterically hilarious.

Liz said...

You're only 43?! I have been using your Guide to Grammar & Style for years and pictured a wise old sage. Now that I see I am much older than you, I am wondering how you got so smart so quickly? Impressed!
Liz May
PhD. University of Georgia

Jack Lynch said...

I just sound old and crotchety; in fact I'm still a snot-nosed kid.