Sick II

pete rosos

Part II:
“Mr Rosos?” Yes. “Come right this way.” Ok. “Is it ok if a student doctor sees you first?” Fine. “Wait right here and he’ll be in to see you soon.” Ok. Pins, needles, and hanging on the wall a 3d diagram of the average human gastrointestinal system including detailed cross-sectioned illustrations of various associated maladies. Who doesn’t like to say or hear the word “duodenum?”

Knock, knock. “Hello Mr. Rosos. What did you come in for this morning?” Burning throat, puffy facial rash, hive-covered crackly hands, mild delirium but no fever. I think it’s strep, but the face and the hands have me worried. “When did this start?” Terse timeline explanation. Student doctor probes ears, eyes, and throat with ubiquitous “say aahh” pine-tasty tongue depressor. “Have you been taking anything for this?” Ibuprofen, but it’s not really working. “Are you on any other prescription medication?” Levoxyl for hashimoto thyroiditis, 125 micrograms. “Smoke?” Yes. “Drink?” Occasionally. “Recreational Drugs?” No. The pins and needles outweigh any sarcastic temptations. “Any allergies to any medicines?” No. The student doctor probes a little more, scribbles notes in between, and re-asks questions just to make sure. “Thank you Mr. Rosos. I’ll let the doctor know and send him in.” Thank you. The Student doctor leaves. “Jejunum” is also a fun word to say and hear.

The door opens quickly and the Not-the-Student doctor pounces into the room. “Hi there, I just wanted to take a quick look at something. Show me your hands.” He scrutinizes my hands with the intensity of a stingy jewelry appraiser. He looks up squinting at my cheeks. “And when did you say your cheeks started getting puffy?” Just last night. “Do you feel any pressure there?” Yes. “Ok, I’ll be back in a second.” He leaves the room. He comes back, cotton swab on a very long stick in hand. “So, I’m sorry to have to do this to you, but I’m going to have to swab the back of your throat for roughly 5 seconds to see if you’ve got strep. This is going to be uncomfortable. Do you think you can handle it?” Yes. “Open up and say ‘aahh.’” Mouth open, swab lances into the back of the throat. There’s a sudden overwhelming feeling that I now know what it must feel like to be an animal with a limb caught in a hunter’s trap. “1 …, 2 …, 3 …, 4 …, 5 …” The doctor retracts the swab. There’s a sense that I’ve handled things much better this time than I used to when I was a kid, but I’m glad nonetheless that the doctor is the only one to witness what’s just taken place. “Ok, I’ve got to go run the culture, and when I get back I’ll let you know the results.” Fine. Another 15 minutes of gastrointestinal pronunciation fascination. Sigmoid Flexure.

“Ok, the culture came back positive for strep, which explains the sore throat. The cheeks and hands on the other hand are a bit confusing. The symptoms are not dissimilar to scarlet fever, but adults don’t usually get scarlet fever, which narrows it down to two other possibilities. Either, you’ve got a double whopper of strep throat and hand, foot, and mouth (a.k.a. Coxsackie virus), or because of your autoimmune issues, your immune system is overreacting to the strep. Either way, I’m giving you a prescription of 500mg penicillin. You should be feeling much better in a day or so. If not, give me a call back. By the way, ibuprofen doesn’t work too well for strep. Try acetaminophen. That should help with the pain.” Thank you doctor. How reassuring.

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