Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Little Something From China--

I learned yesterday around 2am that there apparently is no surer way to get the attention of the medical establishment than to call your doctor in the wee hours and say, "I have a 102.7 fever, I've got chills and aches and flu-ish symptoms, a lot of upper respiratory/coughing issues......and I just got back from China."

When I arrived at my doctor's (which is a major medical facility) it was like a less-dramatic scene from Outbreak. I walked in, and said, "Hi, I'm..." and the woman leapt out from behind the desk, finished my sentence for me, and handed me a surgical mask to wear. I was led to a private room and told to keep the mask on; everyone who entered the room was in mask, gloves, almost full medical riot-gear (not really). But it was definitely weird to be handled as if I was a "carrier" of something like SARS or avian flu.

I definitely felt like hell. No question about it. I usually avoid doctors as much as possible, but my temperature scared me sufficiently that I had to get some help. So, over the next several hours I had a battery of tests for lovely afflictions such as malaria, SARS, Influenza A and B, etc etc etc, all the while being kept isolated in case I was "live."

My favorite part of the day (if there can be such a thing) was meeting the Infectious Diseases doctor. He was extremely nice, very warm, and I could tell was trying to establish a timeline of exactly when coughing started versus when the sore throat started versus when the fever erupted in order to determine what I had brought home without declaring in customs. My favorite exchange went like this:

ID: "What color are you spitting up, if any?"
Me: "Dark Green. Very gross."
ID: "Do you have any of it in those soiled tissues there that I could take a look at?"
Me: "Um. Yeah. But that stuff is mostly yellow. The really nasty green one is already in that biohazard burn box across the room."

{Walks across the room and briefly considers reaching in, but defers upon seeing a pretty full box of godknowswhat}.

ID: "No matter. I'll take the yellow."

GENIUS!! I mean, you could not script a moment like that! If I had not had a raging fever and a hacking cough that was lifting my lungs out of my chest cavity through my throat, I would have chuckled at the fantastic piece of work from Central Casting as the Infectious Disease professional. Warm, likeable, and willing to go (almost) anywhere for some really nasty phlegm. I could tell he could NOT WAIT to get himself back to the lab and take apart my louie, atom by atom. Niiiice.

In the end, I have some kind of nascent pneumonia and potentially an influenza of unspecified nomenclature, which means Tamiflu, hardcore antibiotics (I think I need that Monistat coupon now!), and wearing surgical masks and latex gloves around others so as not to infect them for the next 2-5 days.

I know that some people are thinking that this is a pretty crappy ending to the whole China trip story, that it's such a rotten payoff, and that maybe it was a bad idea to go to China for my daughter due to health risks. Well, all I can say is a) She's worth it, and b) it beats an episiotomy!


Raine said...

Sounds like some kind of infection that just suffered jet-lag with you. At least your home now and with semo-familiar medical centres. If you got violently sick in China... oooh, we might not have been hearing back from you for quite a time.

Anonymous said...

Rotten payoff? Bad idea? Are you crazed? You have a beautiful, loving, wonderful daughter and I don't think that's something there's any too big a risk to achieve.

Anonymous said...

Rotten payoff? Bad idea? Are you crazed? You have a beautiful, loving, wonderful daughter and I don't think that's something there's any too big a risk to achieve.