Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!
Last week I came down with an *ahem* bladder infection. For those of you who have never experienced such a thing, imagine consuming four Obesity-R-Us sized pops at your favourite fast food joint, and then hitting the road to Niagara Falls, where you stop to take a scenic tour, all without bothering to relieve yourself. When you have a bladder infection, that’s how you feel. All the time.
It hit me late one night, rendering sleep impossible. After tossing and turning for several hours, I decided to head to the ER before dawn to beat the rush.
There I reported in to triage, where they made me—you guessed it—pee in a cup. I tried to explain to the nurse that peeing is what hurts, but to no avail. Then I sat in the waiting room with a decade’s worth of Golf Digest magazines, for two hours, to get the full ER experience.
When the doctor finally saw me he asked if I had been experiencing any fever. That was when I made my major tactical blunder. I told him the truth. I admitted that in my night of not sleeping, I had suffered quite bad chills, followed by sweats, which unfortunately bears a remarkable resemblance to a fever.
None of this would have been so bad except that we had returned from a three week trip to a Kenyan orphanage (more on that in an upcoming column). This caused this doctor, and my husband (who is also a doctor, and who had by this time joined me), to run around in circles shouting, “Malaria!!!!” Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s important to make them look silly because I’m bitter.
I valiantly attempted to argue that it was a bit of a coincidence that malaria and a bladder infection should hit me at exactly the same hour, and that perhaps this wasn’t malaria at all, but they were unmoved. Seems doctors are more committed to “science” than to “women’s intuition”.
Now malaria is not nice. It causes you to have fevers, and chills, and nausea, and sometimes death. And then it recurs. Well, not if you suffered the death part, but otherwise it tends to pop up every now and then.
Therefore, it was decided that along with the typical blood work, which consisted of taking eighteen vials out of both arms, I should also be tested for malaria. And thus began my entry into the “Voodoo Doll Impersonation Contest”, for to find malaria, one blood test is not sufficient. Three are needed in the space of twenty-four hours, although I was poked far more than that because my veins started collapsing in protest.
Protest seems to be a natural reaction to almost everything that occurs in a hospital. It’s just not a fun place. The ER is covered with signs telling you how coarse and abusive language will not be tolerated, but I sometimes wonder if hospital administrators realize that normal people probably wouldn’t curse as much if you didn’t make them wait for hours, and then keep them in a hall with no privacy, and then tell their loved ones they have to stay out in the waiting room. It’s rather inhumane.
Sleep is downright impossible in a hospital, too, with all the bright lights and the constant chatter on the overhead speaker. If you’re sick, a hospital is the last place you want to stay. Most of us could recover much better in bed, where you could actually get some shut eye.
So that’s where I headed, after all my treatment was complete. And I realized that, as much of a pain as it was, after being in Kenya I am infinitely grateful that we have a hospital with experienced nurses and good and careful doctors. Even if they do err on the cautious side.
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Labels: Africa, columns, humour