We can be our own best doctor.
ESCAPING THE MEDICAL RABBIT HOLE
July 18, 2023 at 2:23 p.m.
...by Janice Van Cleve
The antibiotics were high strength and did a number on my metabolism, but they did eliminate the infection. Thursday was my last day on them, and Friday I felt a sense of relief and freedom. I could not have wine during the antibiotics, and I had to wait 72 hours afterwards for them to clear my system. I was counting the days. Friday, Saturday, Sunday--then Wineday! It’s not like a chemical addiction. It’s just that without wine, eating loses its appeal for me. Wine is the difference between stuffing my face and dining.
So I was upbeat and looking forward to the next week. A friend offered to take me out to an Italian restaurant on Monday. Another friend invited me over to her house on Tuesday. Thursday was the BBQ at my senior center. It was to be a week of return to normalcy. Then came Saturday.
I awoke to a crushing headache, a painfully stiff neck and really sore back. Blisters appeared on my fingers and rashes showed up on my hands and breasts. What was going on? None of this made sense. I called the consulting nurse, but neither she nor the doctor could make any diagnosis. They said I should go to Urgent Care.
I was understandably apprehensive after the last three visits but this time I dressed warmly and brought a book. After an hour in the waiting room, I was taken to an exam room. The nurse had me undress, put on a hospital gown, and get on the exam table. She gave me a warm blanket and there I lay, alone, abandoned, with no pain relief or any information for three hours. Finally, a doctor showed up, looked at the symptoms, could not figure it out, and ordered a blood draw. An hour later a nurse drew the blood and left.
I’d had it! I wasn't going down that medical rabbit hole any farther!
On Monday, I got the blood results. I saw I was way low on sodium and potassium, and my liver enzymes were “elevated.”
This whole episode reinforced for me the fact that although we do need the medical profession and their medicines, we are capable of acting on our own as well.
The perfect case in point was the difference between the Urgent Care doctors and my own Family Medicine doctor.
I am very grateful for all my friends whose support and good wishes have been the best medicine of all.
Janice Van Cleve is a writer in Seattle, Washington, rich in friends from many diverse communities.
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