Friday, October 30, 2015

A Case of Pneumonia

Well, on the positive side, I've got a forced weekend of rest and relaxation ahead of me.  That's all I've got, though.

I broke down today and decided I needed to see my doctor.  My cough wasn't improving, and in fact was getting worse since it began over the weekend, and I was losing sleep (and work!) trying to put on a smile and deal with it.

Since I was up, and daughter Melody was getting ready to head off to school, I decided to go to work.  I had already missed two days this week, between my great grandmother-in-law's death and homegoing, and taking off due to my cough and lack of energy yesterday, and I really hate being out of the office for any reason other than vacation.  I sure wasn't feeling like I should be at work, though, and it was apparent that my employees all thought the same thing, given the comments I received from them after they took one look at me.  I guess I looked pretty lousy.  I never had a face for playing poker.  I planned to call my doctor's office to see if they could take me in today, but I remembered that my father, who also sees the doc, told me he was on vacation this week.  Plan B meant heading to the emergency room, which I really didn't care to do, or go to one of those ER-like stand-alone little medical centers.  I chose Patient's First in Columbia.

I left work at 10, not too long after my employees pretty much threatened to MAKE me leave, and drove up 29 from Silver Spring to Columbia.  I arrived at 10:30.  The parking lot was crowded, but the lobby/waiting area was practically empty.  The front desk had a questionnaire on a touchscreen, which asked whether I had recently been to any of several exotic foreign countries, and whether I had any of a number of symptoms, and then it asked a few personal, identifying questions.  I was told to have a seat and I would be called soon.

I was called soon...within 30 seconds, in fact.  I went into a small room where a lady took all of my personal information (including the fact that I had visited a Patient's First once before, with my daughter, about 8 years ago), and then she entered my symptoms (cough, fever, chills, muscle aches and fatigue) into the computer.  I paid my co-pay, then I was told to have a seat in the waiting room and I would be called soon.  Again, I was seated for less than 30 seconds when my name was called, and I entered the main room.  I was weighed, measured, vitaled, and then sent to own private little partitioned room.  A nurse asked for my symptoms (again), and then told me to undress from the waist up and she handed me a gown, with instructions to keep the opening in the back.  Well, at least I could leave my pants on.  I quickly changed, and then was taken to another room where they took two X-rays.  Then I was lead back to my private cabana and told to wait, that the doctor would be there soon.

Soon quickly turned into an hour.  I could hear a lot of activity on the other side of the curtain separating me from the rest of the "hospital," and it sounded like they were having a good time.  But no one came to check on me.  I continued to periodically hack up a bucket of phlegm, and I still felt awful, but all I could do was wait.  Thank goodness for smartphones.  I played a lot of Candy Soda Crush, texted with my father, and continued to expect someone to check on me at any moment.  I had gotten comfortable on the bed, and I soon got pretty drowsy.  I guess I must've dozed off for a few seconds, because soon there was as knock outside my "door" and the doctor entered the room.  I must've jumped three feet off the bed.

The doctor went over my symptoms (again) and showed me the results of the X-rays.  His diagnosis was pneumonia!  I surely didn't expect that!  He said he wanted to do a few more tests before sending me home.  First, he wanted to draw blood to check my white blood cell count.  Second, he wanted to have me use a nebulizer to see if that would help my cough.  He then left again.  Within five minutes, another nurse entered and set up the nebulizer, which was like a breathing tube with an oxygen mist that I would breathe in through my mouth.  But I first had to take a breathing test, using a gadget that measured how quickly I could exhale a breath of air.  My first try was in the 450 range.  The second was around 400.  Then I was told to make myself comfortable on the examining table and the nebulizer was started.  She said it would take about 10 minutes to run through the test.  Then she left. Two minutes later, a second nurse entered to draw blood.  I always enjoy doing that.  When she finished, I was alone again...for about 15 minutes (I thought the test was only 10 minutes?).  The first nurse returned, turned off the nebulizer, and asked if I felt any better.  I could feel a little bit of difference, but not much.  She had me do the exhaling test again, and I hit 500, which she said was the goal.  Then she left.  I was alone again for another 20 minutes.

Finally, the doctor returned.  He concluded again that I likely had pneumonia, and he prescribed an antibiotic and Albuterol, an oral inhaler.  He gave me several printouts with instructions and details about the day's appointment.  He said he wanted me to return in three days for a follow-up.  He said I could get dressed and he would see me on Monday.  And I was free to leave, after over two hours.

I was a bit frustrated that I had been there so long.  The downtime was ridiculous.  But then I reasoned that I was able to get X-rays and all of the tests in one appointment, all of which would not have been possible at my regular doctor's office.  He likely would've sent me to the ER, and I was able to get all of the same things done that the ER would've done.  So I guess it was all good.  I might actually recommend Patient's First, though I still have an issue with how they treated my daughter 8 years ago.  But that's a story for another time.

So I'm home and on forced relaxation, and I'm loaded with all kinds of meds and tools for battling a case of pneumonia.  My wonderful daughter has promised to take care of me all weekend, even with Halloween happening tomorrow night.  And I can't help but thank the Lord for the doctors who are able to care for us when we're sick, for the medicine that assists us in healing our bodies, and a loving family to take care of me when we're feeling lousy.  And I am feeling really lousy.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

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