Sunday, May 22, 2011

My spleen is feeling extra-normal. (Question of the Day, 76)

How come there is more than one kind of pink eye?

-- Sweetie

And the kind that Mr Bunches has is the kind that means we cannot go swimming today. Mr Bunches woke up with pink eye Friday morning, a development that had a couple of effects on people: Sweetie had to cancel the four teachers and therapists who were coming that day, call off the bus that picks up Mr F for his school, and make an appointment to get Mr Bunches to the doctor.

I, on the other hand, had to immediately feel as though my eyes were itching, too, and consider whether I should go into the office Friday at all. On the Yes, you should go side was the fact that I had two depositions scheduled and also I'm not too crazy about opposing counsel on one of them, which means I might be able to give him pink eye, and also on the Yes, you should go side was the fact that grown men do not call in sick with pink eye, or at least they do not do that three times in their professional career, and I've already called in sick twice in the past 11 years with pink eye.

On the No, you'd better not go into work side was this compelling thought: It's Friday.

I ended up going into work and not having pink eye, only to then find out that our regular plans for Sunday, which are go to the office for a while, then go to the pool at the health club had to be cancelled because technically speaking, Mr Bunches is still contagious.

Which, as I think of it, makes it probably not my best idea to bring him to the office with me.

But we definitely cannot bring him to the pool, because Sweetie told me it would irritate Mr Bunches' eye to go swimming, to which I said:

"It won't hurt him. If you don't believe me, call that nurse line, and ask them," and I should have known better than to ask a nurse, because asking a nurse never gets me any kind of helpful answer.

My mom was a nurse, and my mom, as great as she could be at times, never gave me any helpful answers; her answers were almost always "Drink more milk," that being Mom's cure for everything from shin splints to depression to unemployment. "Drink more milk," she'd say, sometimes before I'd finished asking the question.

And other nurses are no more helpful. I saw a nurse a few weeks back when I was having chest pains that have been tentatively (and, I'm pretty sure, wrongly) diagnosed as "maybe asthma" (that being exactly what the doctor said), and the nurse I saw told me I'd hurt my ribs and to take ibuprofen.

And, of course, there was the nurse practitioner who (mis)diagnosed my actual heart attack as "probably that chili dog you ate last night" before going on to hand me his (oversized, apparently novelty) business card in which he mentioned his love of live-action role-playing.

But by far the least helpful nurse ever was the one we told Oldest Daughter to call the time she was having chest pains and thought she might (at nineteen) be having a heart attack. "Call the nurse," we said, to calm her down, and she did, and this ensued:

"Are you having pain in your left arm?" the nurse asked.

"Maybe, a little," Oldest said.

"Because pain in your left arm is a sign of a heart attack," the nurse helpfully told her.

"I am. My left arm hurts," Oldest said.

Ending up with us at the emergency room proving once and for all that our "medical system" sucks, and also proving that Oldest was having "anxiety," probably because she and the nurse had combined to convince her she was having a heart attack.

Which, if you're keeping track, means the one thing you should certainly never ask a nurse about is a heart attack.

Another thing not to ask a nurse about is whether it's okay to take a kid with pink eye to a public swimming pool, because they'll act all horrified and repeatedly use the word contagious in a very negative sense, which will then result in Sweetie getting off the phone and telling you "He can't go; he's still contagious," even though he's had the pink eye for more than 24 hours.

He's still contagious because as it turns out, God decided the world needed two kinds of pink eye, the kind everyone knows about where your eye gets all pink and you take medicine and stay home for 24 hours, and the more sneaky kind that Mr Bunches has, where you don't get any medicine for it at all...

... and is it just me, or is the medical "community" getting really very stingy with their medicine and X-rays? When I was a kid, you'd get an antibiotic and x-rays for everything you did: sprain your ankle, and get an antibiotic and x-rays. Ear infection? antibiotic, and an x-ray to be on the safe side. Running late for work? X-rays + antibiotics = will fix that.

But now, you've got to meet some impossible standard of sickness to qualify for anything other than a co-pay. No matter what you tell them -- and I've tried everything-- getting them to give you an x-ray or a pill is practically impossible.

And if you're like me, then you firmly believe that unless the doctor (a) cut you open, (b) took an x-ray, or (c) prescribed something, then they didn't do anything and you are probably going to die.

Seriously: doctors should just pretend for people like me. They should look in my ear, tap my back with a stethoscope, and say "Let's take an x-ray to be sure," then have me stand by the copying machine for a few minutes, wait a half-hour, put an x-ray (it could be of anyone, since all rib cages look more or less the same) up on that light box, point to things and say "There's your spleen, it looks extra-normal" and then prescribe a placebo pill that I'd take for five days. I would happily pay for that, because I'd feel like they're doing something.

But instead, they say "It's viral, there's nothing we can do," even when they're talking about, say, my knee, and I limp out of there convinced that I've got Horrendous Knee Cancer and that I'm going to die and nobody cares, and also I've got to go back to work that week.

So for my sake, let's just take some x-rays and give me some Flintstones vitamins to cure the Horrendous Knee Cancer, okay?...

...and the sneaky kind of Pink Eye that Mr Bunches has is viral, and can't be spread around the community by taking him to the community pool, so we had to cancel our plans to go swimming.

Which meant that Sweetie got to ask the question of the day (to which I replied, "I guess God had a little extra time that day," which I thought was clever) and which meant, too, that Sweetie claimed victory in this debate, even though her thesis was "It will hurt Mr Bunches' eyes to swim," and the nurse did not say that (she also, amazingly, did not misdiagnose this as a heart attack), which means that although Sweetie was right that he should not swim, she was wrong about why, which means that like our last debate, I'm pretty sure I won.

And, also, we're probably going to the zoo today, because the nurse said nothing about whether you could give pink eye to a giraffe, and I'm not going to ask her.

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