Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Medical Update

Yesterday was strange. I slept fitfully, as I had predicted, and suffered bouts of high fever. But I woke up feeling much better and drove to Skylar's school to see the "mall" she and her classmates had set up -- with Kim's help on Wednesday -- as the culmination of what Kim and I call their "capitalism" unit. When we arrived, though, we realized that Skylar had forgotten her library books and a note one of her classmates had leant her. So Kim told me to go home and get them.

I did, returning just in time to see the fruits of the children's labor and take pictures, some of which I will share in a subsequent entry. Then I decided to swing by the library to see if they had a copy of a book I was using that I'd left at work. I recently refound my library card from years ago and figured I should give it a shot, rather than buying the book from B&N and returning it later. They had the book, as well as some interesting CDs that I brought home to hear and, if I like them, burn.

Since I was already at Shannon and Ina, I decided I should stop in at Urgent Care to make sure I didn't need medication. It's impossible to get an appointment with my primary care physician unless I can wait several days and I've had better luck with Urgent Care anyway, as was the case with my tonsil abscess last winter. I checked in, read, did my triage, read some more and then, all of a sudden, felt just awful. I got up to go to the bathroom, figuring I should splash water on my face. But I felt so dizzy that I opted to sit back down in my chair. My fainting spells of June, 1997 at least taught me that much.

I came to sitting on the floor in front of the chair, with concerned Urgent Care personnel crowding around me. Yes, I'd passed out, pitching forward and falling from the chair. Very dramatic. They brought me a wheelchair and took me into the special room where they put the more serious cases. All I could think was that I'd managed to bypass ten people in line ahead of me. Oh, and also that my head hurt, but not from falling.

Piecing together the cause of my collapse, I realized that I'd had too many inhaler puffs relative to the amount of food I'd consumed in the past twelve hours. Indeed, as I recounted my experience passing out back in June, 1997 -- far more dramatic and bad -- I realized that excessive inhaler puffs probably were one of the causes for that episode as well.

Initially, I'd assumed that it was the ephedrine and Vicodin -- it was a smog-induced asthma and a backache day -- that were mostly to blame. Then, after the E.R. visit and subsequent follow-up visits -- Kim had thought I was having a seizure, which led to all manner of difficulty once the paperwork was processed -- I realized that low blood sugar was probably the biggest culprit of all.

Anyway, I told this story to the still-concerned people monitoring me and they agreed that too much albuterol on an empty stomach could lead to precisely this sort of crisis. The thing is, I hadn't eaten that much because I was coughing so much -- thank you, Mrs. or Mr. Smoker -- and didn't want to throw up accidentally. Still, it was stupid of me.

My joy at bypassing the line eventually faded when I realized that I would be there longer because I'd passed out. They gave me an EKG, a reflex test, and various other check-ups. And I passed with flying colors. My blood sugar was low, though, if not dangerously low, so they brought me graham crackers and juice, which immediately restored my spirit.

After a while, they gave me a nebulizer treatment with more albuterol, which always helps me more than the straight inhaler puffs. And they did a chest X-ray, which showed that the Valley Fever nodules had shrunken down but that my lungs were still pretty much of a mess. They weren't certain, though, whether it was just the flu -- flu is hitting Tucson hard and early this year, apparently, judging from their comments and the waiting room -- or pneumonia.

Although they thought it was probably the former, they gave me antibiotics to prevent the viral infection from paving the way for a bacterial one. Score. I hate leaving Urgent Care empty-handed. And I know that the likelihood of me getting a bacterial infection on top of the viral one is pretty high this time of year.

I also walked away with prescriptions for oral steroids, which I'm not sure I want to take, vials of liquid Albuterol to use in our home nebulizer, and Musinex -- also available over the counter -- which I'd never heard of but combines the active ingredients of most cough syrup -- dextromethorphan and guaifenesin -- in a pill form.

I hate the way cough syrup makes me feel. But these pills don't make me feel that way. What they do make me feel, however, is high. I remember a drug-obsessed friend once talking about how great it would be to be able to take dextromethrophan in pill form. Well, the medical industry has responded to his request. It looks like Mormons are going to have another option when it comes to getting blasted.

I only took a single pill, but it still gave me the sensation of a "widescreen" visual field with extended depth of field and intense color saturation. Go me! It also helped my cough a lot. I'm feeling much better today, despite the fact that I seem to have contracted a cold on top of the flu. Or maybe I'm just experiencing different flu symptoms.

At any rate, I'm on the mend. I'm no longer contagious. And I managed to wash the kitchen floor on hands-and-knees last night. This means that the party is still on! Hooray. I'd hate to cancel. Bean wouldn't let us cancel.

What's the moral of this story? Don't use the inhaler excessively unless you have to. But if you do have to use it a lot, as I most certainly did on Wednesday and Thursday, be sure to keep your blood sugar up.
Tags: health

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