Friday, May 1, 2009

Emergency Rooms, Sore Throats, and Popsicles

Well, I woke up at 7 AM, extremely thirsty. I went to take a sip of my water (I always keep water by my bed), and proceeded to cry in pain as the water went down my throat. My ears were screaming at me as I swallowed each mouthful of water.

I started crying and crying because of how bad it hurt. I was so thirsty and felt like I couldn't drink because it hurt too much.

That was the last straw. I've been sick since last Saturday--almost a week. My head was heavy, my glands were swollen, I had a fever, and my ears were hurting really bad. I felt better after drinking some soup on Saturday night and woke up still sick on Sunday. Since Monday I've been pushing my body, acting like nothing is wrong, but my glands have still been swollen. And my ears have still been hurting from time to time. Why didn't I just go to the doctor on Saturday or Sunday?

I am under my parents' insurance, Kaiser Permanente. It's a southern California-based HMO chain thing. It'd have been easiest if I had just nipped this in the bud when it started last weekend. But I hate going to the doctor.

Well, I discovered today that I hate Emergency even worse than going to the doctor. When I called my dad in tears because of the pain, asking what I should do, he said to go to the ER. I was scared to go alone. Some adult things are really intimidating, and even though I'm 22 I still don't feel like much of an adult.

It was such an unpleasant experience. To begin with, no matter how many times I spelled my last name out for Tardy Tarderson, she couldn't get it right. The first time I spelled it out, "B as in boy, a, l, i, b, r, e, a." Trying to confirm what she had, she said, "V-a-l-l-i-r-a?" Wow. No. "B as in boy, a, l, i, b as in boy, r, e, a." "Then I got my wrist band: "Janae Balbrea." Holy guacamole, tard face. It's not that difficult. I said it at least five times over the course of this process. "Balibrea. Balibrea. Balibrea." Do you hear that VOWEL sound between the L and the B? It's a short I sound. Guy. Whatever, she got it fixed.

Then they asked all these questions, which make me feel stupid because I can't answer them. My thyroid medication, for instance. I don't know what it's called. All I know is it keeps me from being fat and helps distribute my hormones. I remembered it eventually--Levothroid, in case you were interested. She asked if I had stuffy or runny nose, I said yeah, I've had nose problems. She wanted to know which one. Seriously? Both. Is that possible? I decided on runny and then realized later my nose has actually been stuffy most of the time.

I chilled in a room for like ten minutes before a nurse came to see me and asked what was wrong. I told her my ears were killing me. The doctor came in like ten minutes after that and spent a total of 3 minutes in the room, if that. He asked what was wrong. I gave him the run down of my sickness, and he asked if I had a fever--I said I did on Saturday and Sunday. He asked if I had a sore throat, I said, "Mm, not really.. Just my glands are swollen and it hurts." He looked in my ears and in my mouth (open wide, say "ah"). Then he said he was going to get me a test for strep throat. And he walked out.


I'm pretty sure I just said my throat doesn't hurt.

So the nurse came back in and took two gagging swabs of my throat, which I didn't freaking need, because my throat was NOT hurting... She said they're 12 and 24 hour tests, and that we had to make sure my phone number was right in case it came up positive later. And she walked out.

Then I waited for 25-30 minutes. That whole waiting time was stressful and confusing to me. I didn't know if she meant "OK that's the swab, we'll call you if anything comes up, you can go," or if I was supposed to wait for all that time, which seems absurd, obviously. So I finally got up after waiting and crying because of the pain every time I tried to drink water. I also cried because I was alone and confused and felt like no one was listening to me or would be able to help me. I went and looked for the nurse, and she basically said I was supposed to be waiting for the results and that the doctor would come in.

A few minutes later, Doc says I came up negative for strep. "No sh--," I wanted to say. "Maybe if you had spent more than 30 seconds checking me over, or even if you had tried asking me questions, you'd have figured that out without gagging me..."

He said my ears "don't look that impressive," from the pain I was describing. But he was going to get me a prescription and give me some medicine and get me on my way. The thing that he was going to give me he said was basically an anti-inflammatory steroid/antibiotic which should help the swelling in my throat go down.

Nurse came back in and gave me some really nasty tasting syrup stuff. The doc said it would take 4-6 hours to kick in. Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting that relief. The nurse brought me my prescription and told me to get feeling better, and to buy popsicles for that sore throat I had--it was an excuse to eat them. Funny, since I don't have a freaking sore throat, and I hate popsicles.

The instruction sheets she gave me said, "Discharge diagnosis: sore throat." That's nice, guys, really. I appreciate you listening to the seven times I said, "My ears are hurting." I have been sobbing over pain in my ears all morning and you dismiss me with a sore throat? What the crap?

In any case I guess there is an infection or inflammation in my throat, which this prescription should help with, to reduce the swelling, and hopefully take pressure off of my ears? Not sure how all of that's connected at all, but I'll take an antibiotic if it'll kill this bloody infection. It hurts way too bad for me to even drink water.

I called Kaiser, too. He gave me the number for the reimbursement department for my prescription and emergency bill. That was easy enough, thank heaven.

It has been a rather traumatic, emotional, and painful morning. And guess what? I'm starting to feel pain in my left ear--without even swallowing or opening my mouth. That's encouraging... I pray this Azithromycin works. I'm going back to bed.


carissa anne said...

as encouragement: a z-pack (azithro) is an amazing thing, if indeed you have an infection. i had strep throat and it knocked it out in 24 hours. i hope you feel better!

April said...

Yuck Janae! Hope that Z-Pack works. That's the one my kids get when they are sick, and it usually helps! And you can always call your family down in Lehi if you need help with anything! (I've been to the E.R. a few times so I've got some experience!)'re not alone here!!!

Rachel said...

Yeah, Z-Packs are amazing things. Feel better Jan! And I'm mad you didn't call me to go with you. That's scary enough without having to do it alone.

amelia said...

Another reason why I hate our healthcare system. Feel better Janae. Would an "At least it's not swine flu" joke help?