The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

They just don't listen, do they?

The following story is true, as best as I can relate it from memory. It might, therefore, be a bit biased in my favor. It might explain why I am often considered "The Patient From Hell."

It was July of 1998, I believe, when I went to the Emergency Room at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center with a respiratory problem. I was evaluated and found to have a 61% O2 saturation level. It took 3 Nebulizer treatments in the ER before I was deemed stable enough to be moved to a room. Both my primary care physician (PCP) and my infectious disease specialist were there to comfort me. I noted some hint of fear in their eyes.

As I lay in that bed with the two of them being sympathetic and nervous, I inquired of my PCP whether I could be given one of the newer antihistamines during my stay... to try it out. I do not recall the name... might have been Clarinex. In any event, he okayed it. I woke up the next morning after as restful a sleep as one can have in a hospital (2 hour-interval nurse visits, automatic BP tests every 15 minutes). I felt pretty good though my chest felt tight. I drew a deep breath. I am a shallow breather when I sleep so one of the things I do upon waking is to breathe deeply. It felt like my lungs were on fire. Very painful. The feeling lasted for maybe 30 minutes, gradually waning until it was tolerable.

When my PCP showed up around 10 or so, I questioned him about the known side effects and told him about the burning sensation. To be fair, this was not the first time I have had this reaction to antihistamines. We are all a little different and I tend to dry up from antihistamines (which is, after all, their purpose) but I seem to overdo it somewhat. Oddly, after a few doses/days, they tend to lose their effectiveness for me. He flat out denied this was a side effect of the drug. He almost sneered at me while doing so... as if to say "What do you, a mere patient, know? After all, I have spent years being schooled in my profession and internship." 

This did not sit well with me. So I politely asked him to fetch the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) from the nurse's station. This he did, which almost surprised me, but doctors are usually (over) confident in their knowledge.

I searched for, and found, the medication and read the side effects while he talked and busied himself with minor things doctors do to impress us. Listed in the possible side effects, I found a reference to "inflammation" and a "tightness" of the lungs. It was among the "rare" effects reported. That "rare" is always a relative term. For the patient who experiences the side effect, it is not actually "rare". A bit like a weather report predicting a 10% chance of rain so you plan your picnic and get drenched.

A few moments later, he dismissed my concerns that he might be misdiagnosing my condition since we hadn't seen much (practically no) progress over the last year and a half or so. He did this in one of those condescending manners that doctors are probably taught at med school. After all, he studied medicine for at least 8 years, followed by another 4 years as an intern (and possibly resident) before joining his partner's practice. He had seen me for 15 minutes at a time perhaps 10 or 12 times over the past 18 months or so and I had only lived in my body for some 52 years. What could I possibly know?

I "fired" him. I told him to leave the room and not return again. That I would be switching back to his partner, Dr. Stern, as soon as I left the hospital and that I did not care to hear his voice or see his face again.

As I recall, he would scowl at me whenever we chanced to cross paths at the office.

No comments: