Mar 6, 2013

A pox on Chicken Pox!

Ever grabbed a bottle of Laxative pills when reaching for the headache meds? No? Me neither. But these little slips will happen. Hopefully with little more consequence than embarassment. Like here - Yash's adventure (over at Y on earth not) as her hubby tried to get the Flu vaccine and....well, read it for yourself. know the drill.

It reminded me of our own latest brush with bewildering medical advice.

One Wednesday a few weeks ago (end Jan, 2013, to be precise) my husband and I woke up ill and itchy. Strongly suspecting that we had contracted Chicken Pox from my MIL who was suffering from Shingles at the time, we presented our spotted, miserable selves to the emergency walk-in clinic. Our regular docs offices weren't going to open for another couple of hours and there were decisions to be made about whether or not we should to go to work, run errands, breathe around people etc. A hasty web search early that morning had revealed the varied (and often contradictory) advice you typically get when placing faith in essentially unnamed sources dispensing dubious cyber-wisdom. It ranged from assurig us that we were safe from spreading contagion unless we we draped our naked selves over people to panic that we should be wearing Hazmat signs because we could create polka-dotted zombies just by looking at innocent bystanders.

Confused, ill and feeling not a little harassed, we entered the 24 hr walk-in clinic carefully, trying not to touch anything with our potentially poxy bodies and apologetically disclaiming to anyone we could make eye contact with that we might be infectious. Inspite of all our scoffing at alarmist internet advice we'd taken to heart the severity of the risk to pregnant women and immuno-compromised people.

Our unusual request to be seen jointly was hastily honored. Probably because the nurse wanted to minimize the number of surfaces that would have to be disinfected with antibacterial wipes. Or maybe with a flamethrower, given how many bugs are circulating this miserable, awful winter.

Those hospital issue johnnies don't do anything for comfort or ego even on a 'well visit' when all the doc will be doing is asking you to breathe. (By the way, I don't really get that request: what else  do they our lungs might be doing - the Salsa?) Then there's the whole ordeal of humiliating undress thath we need to be further subjected to in order to have our bodies healed. Mid-calf length trouser socks on bare legs is not a good look on anybody, leave alone a 41 year old woman and her hairy legged husband. That particular day, with our heads aching and bodies throbbing with low grade fevers and itchy blisters, sudden rushes of chilly air in unexpected places were decidedly not welcome.

The biker chick doc on call eventually bounced into the examining room. She was in thigh high leather lace-up boots, a black miniskirt (with black tights) and a wild blond mane haloing a much-too-upbeat grinning face. While she cheerfully examined our blisters/spots, we brought her up to speed on the Shingles-at-home and no-pox-as-kids situations. My husband asked her if she thought we had Chicken Pox.
Her chirpy response? "I have NO idea! Let me go Google what the blisters look like."

We stared at each other in disbelief (and tried not to scratch) while she did the needful.
We knew of an anti-viral drug that minimizes the intensity and duration of Shingles (which is also triggered by the dormant Chicken Pox virus) thanks to my MIL's recent experience. When we asked her about it's possibilities for us ......


After denying any such thing existed she caught a glimpse of our distraught faces, seemed to read our invisible thought bubbles screaming 'OMG! Who IS this?' and quickly changed tack. She conveniently remembered that there was indeed such an anti-viral drug out and handed us a 'scholarly article' on the role of anti-virals, because 'you guys seem to be scientists'. The only even remote reason I can imagine for said assumption was that we had made appropriate use of the word 'antibodies'. So I 'm fairly certain it was  a bumbling effort to redeem her creds with us while playing to our egos. An unsuccessful one, I might add.

When pressed for an answer about said meds, she delivered some airy non-statement about how we could take it if we wanted after consulting our primary physician.

If we want it?! How do we know if we want it?!!!!
Isn't the word here 'need'?

I usually love the democratic doctor-patient dynamic in the US, I really do: I appreciate being talked-to instead of being talked-at, being educated about my health and having my options laid out so I can excercise free choice. But time and again, the free choice credo frustrates me when it comes to critical matters. After being told that adult chicken pox can rapidly and suddenly lead to complications like severe Pnuemonia and Encephalitis and even death, I need to be treated ASAP, not have a light and airy gab about what I might feel like that paritcualr day. Choices are for the semi-annual clearance sales at Victoria's Secret, NOT potentially life saving courses of medical treatment!

Anyway, as we gave up and mournfully trooped past her on our way to go consult a REAL doctor (this one had summed up her sage advise by suggesting we just 'ride it out folks!'), she actually clapped her hands in glee and squealed "Yay! I've seen Chicken Pox now!"

I believe I muttered a  resentful 'Congratulaions' as I passed by. But the sarcasm, like all sense of appropriate bedside manner, was lost on her.

Our regular doctors put us on the anti-virals, told us to get rest and ended our saga of uncertainty.

But the next time I need emergency care for sudden spots, I'm visiting the vet: they know about chicken. Maybe they'll know about pox.

Oyon (out of nowhere):   Do you know what 5 plus 4 is Mummum?
Me (thinking it's a trick question):  17?
Oyon (not rising to the bait):   9. Do you know why?
Me (intrigued by his gravity now): Why is it 9 Oyon?
Oyon: Because 5 plus 5 is 10 and 4 is 5 minus 1. So it adds up to 10 minus 1. Super-shmooper cool, huh?!

The conversation that followed this one - but only after a respectful 2 minutes silence to mull over the awesomeness of Math - revolved around how we could protect corn crops without using insecticides. He was excited about a new machine he'd build that would extract the bugs one by one (instead of crop-dusting them to death) and store them in a large warehouse where we would feed them Pop Tarts we bought from the store. Why Pop Tarts? So they would leave the corn alone for people to eat.

But that one's for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment