June 29th, 2006

Topical

The past two days have taught me that my partner wasn't kidding when she said that strep throat hurts a lot more when you're an adult. I've also reached some conclusions on topical treatment. The following foods have brought me relief: 1) a mixture of ginger, chiles, and barley miso; 2) Panda brand licorice (which, I just learned, is from Finland); Tazo's Zen tea with milk; 3) Cheetos, "the puffy kind." Since my capacity for consuming these salves is limited, however, I fear that the night will drag on without much sleeping.

Triage Rage

Well, I recently returned from a second visit to Urgent Care, where I was infused with steroids and diagnosed with strep throat and an infection of the uvula, which may or may not be related to the former. The highlight, though, was my initial triage session.

I had the same person both days. Yesterday she asked me to rate my pain on a 1-10 scale. "Do you mean overall or just the throat?, " I asked. "Just rate your pain," she replied. Guessing that meant that I should focus on my throat, I said, "Between 6 and 7." She glowered at me. "That's a little high, isn't it?" Flustered, I tried to collect myself. "It's an arbitrary scale anyway," I said.

Today she recognized me and said, "Why are you here?" I replied that my throat had worsened and that I wanted to be seen before my regular doctor would be able to do so. She then asked me if I take any medication regularly, even though my answer from the day before was sitting right there on the chart. "No, I replied. I use an albuterol inhaler as needed, but not that often of late."

She pursed her lips. "When did you take your first does of antibiotics yesterday?" I told her it was around noon. "I thought you told me you weren't taking medication." I made the Bertsch sound, a violent exhalation scraped off the roof of the mouth. "Regular medication, you said." She looked down at the chart. "Wait a minute. You're still contagious then! You could be infecting everyone out in the lobby! Why didn't you just go to your PCP?"

This time I became unflustered more quickly. "Do you want me to leave? Because I don't need any more of this." She turned her head towards me. "I just want you to know that strep throat stays contagious after you start taking the medicine." I sighed. "I know a lot about strep throat, ok? I wasn't sitting near anyone."

"So why are you here again?" I glowered back at her. "Look, last time I saw a PA. This time I'm hoping to get a doctor." She smirked. "Well, a PA is what you're going to get!" Then she got up and walked out of the room.

As it turned out, the rest of the visit was uneventful. The rest of the staff was courteous. And I did get to see a "real" doctor, a nice lady who has treated Bean on several occasions who reassured me, "You know your own body better than anyone," before having the triage nurse send in my steroid dosage. It's a wonder I wasn't poisoned. . .