Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's that thing where doctors make you feel better just by talking to you? Bedside manner? Yeah, yours sucks, dude.

I've been so wrapped up in the excitement (and horror) that has been this season's political campaign/economic crisis that I've let this slip just a bit. So back to the idiosyncrasies of living in New York.

So I have had this flu that just refuses to quit (I still blame Sarah Palin). I'm usually pretty anti-medication, but it took a turn for the worse this Thursday morning and I decided to bite the bullet and just go get myself some antibiotics. Yet, what for some might be a relatively routine doctor's visit, for me was all but a three ring circus. For a bit of a back story:

I just began going to this doctor's office, and I actually really like the people, but the service is *slightly* questionable. Like last time, when I tried to have my blood drawn, and two nurses took about 15 minutes to decide that I do not have one vein in my entire body. Oh, until nurse number two felt around the side of my arm and said, "oh, well, this might be a vein. I mean, it COULD be a tendon..." Needless to say, all the blood stayed in my arm that day.

Which brings me to last Thursday. I awoke with lymph nodes the size of golf balls and the inability to swallow, which I explained to the nurse who was examining me. "Let's do a rapid strep test," she suggested, which of course made sense to me. She tried to do the test once, but due to my relatively pronounced gag reflex, gave up and handed me the swab. I proceeded then, to DO MY OWN strep test. Fine, I thought, this can't be that weird, right? I'm not sure I did this right but it should be ok.

I was then called into the doctors office, and as I was walking down the hall, the nurse who had "taken" by rapid strep culture yelled/whispered down the hallway "the test is negative!" Well, that's good news, but seriously? Everyone just heard that. So much for confidentiality. Also, I began to question my ability to swab my own throat.

The doctor sat down with me, and she was a lovely woman, but I couldn't help but notice that her bedside manner was just a little too friendly. Like when she said, "ew" when she looked at my throat the first time, and "wow that's ugly" when she looked again. She then proceeded to ask "are your tonsils normally that huge?" (really? i'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I HAVE A SORE THROAT!) and acknowledged that I "can take as many aspirin as I want, at any time." She did another culture (by herself this time!) and informed me that it would take 48 hours for the results. And then, she proceeded to write me a prescription anyway, on "good faith" that I wouldn't fill it until I found the results. Even after she assured me that "the rapid strep test is almost never wrong." Thanks! Could you write me a script for Vicodin too, on the off chance that I break my leg on the walk to the subway?

However, I took the prescription happily, and filled it before I got the results. In the end, you know your body better than any doctor, and my symptoms assured me that the DIY rapid strep culture was wrong. And what do you know, as I was listening to my voicemail last night, the friendly voice of the woman who told me that ODing on advil was safe and my tonsils were ugly informed me that, "yeah, you're going to want to start taking those antibiotics about now..."

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