The Week I Almost Died

It’s Thursday evening as I’m writing this, and the work week is almost over. In some ways  it was a typical  week, except for the whole “almost dying” thing. Which meant I ended up working a lot less than normal.Just so no one worries needlessly, I’ll just cut to the chase now  and say that I didn’t, in fact, die. And I actually wasn’t even that close – but I felt like I was. I felt like I was knocking on death’s door, but fortunately, death didn’t answer.

I have this physical affliction, which I’m told is more common among men than women. I don’t know what the official name of the affliction is – maybe “Being a Baby” or something like that. Anytime I experience any sort of physical discomfort, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. And hey, this is a real thing, people. I’m not just doing it to get attention, because I’m not really a get-attention kind of person. Something actually clouds my brain, and when I start getting a severe fever, say around 98.8, I immediately start googling caskets.

This week I was sure I had the malaria. Never mind that my exposure to the malaria was three months ago, and never mind that I took all necessary precautions and followed all the malaria rules. Never mind that if I were actually going to get the malaria, I would have probably gotten it in August. And never mind that other people around me have gotten the regular flu (which seems to correspond with my symptoms more than the malaria) – In my mind, I had the malaria, and I was dying.

So yesterday (Wednesday) I felt so bad that I decided to call the doctor and make an appointment for today (Thursday). Because yesterday I felt so bad I was not only knocking on death’s door, I was pounding on death’s door and saying “HEY DEATH! ARE YOU IN THERE, DEATH???? HELLOOOOO??????” I was walking around death’s house and looking for hidden keys to death’s door behind death’s bushes, and peering through the cracks in the dusty, crooked vertical blinds on death’s windows.

**The above paragraph means, “I felt pretty bad on Wednesday.”

I went to the doctor this morning, but as often happens, when I was on my way to the doctor, I started to feel better. No pain, no chills, no fever. No hallucinations. No apocalyptic visions of dalmatians battling squirrels somewhere in the middle east. I actually felt, dare I say it – kind of good. But I had the appointment, so I went. I decided not to mention the malaria to the doctor, because I wanted her to just give me her unbiased, professional opinion.

After getting the whole pre-exam thing out of the way (normal temp, and may I say excellent blood pressure), I was escorted into a room and told, “Your provider will be right with you.” My provider. Cool. Soon I would be provided for. It was all so providential. We were going to get to the bottom of this mess, because my unexpected good feelings this morning weren’t fooling me – I knew good and well I was dying, and suspected it was the malaria.

Soon my provider came in. She was cool and friendly, and the first thing she said was, “Hey! How was Africa?” And I said, “It was good,” and I thought – cool. She mentioned Africa; we’re getting right to the malaria thing. We talked about my symptoms – the fever, chills, aches. I didn’t mention the dalmatians and squirrels because in all honesty, that can happen to me even when I’m not sick.

But then we took an unexpected turn. It was like she was putting way too much emphasis on the whole “you’re feeling better now” part of it. She checked my throat, and saw something, and said she needed to take a culture. I asked, “Do you think I have an infection?” (trying to sound serious). “Maybe. It could just be a piece of food. I’ll get someone in here to check.” And suddenly she was on the intercom: “I need help in room 4!” Which, to me, seemed like an unnecessarily emergent tone just for a throat infection, or even food in the throat. A medical assistant came in right away, probably thinking she was going to have to get out the electrical paddles, but once she was told we needed a throat culture, she almost laughed. Then she shoved this thing in my throat and pulled it back out (the thing, not my throat), and she was gone as suddenly as she came.

Back to the doctor, or provider. She just couldn’t seem to let go of the whole “you’re getting better” thing, which was frustrating to me. She said she was going to prescribe an antibiotic, but it’d be good to wait a few days and see if I continued to get better, and if not, I could start the antibiotic. Then I said, “Hey, is this something I could take Cipro for? Because I have some left from when I was in Africa (see how I worked it back to Africa, which should have gotten her to thinking about the malaria), and I could just use that.”

And that’s where her tone and demeanor changed. Kind of like she had other patients waiting, or something. She said Cipro would be fine, although Cipro was better for digestive infections, and since there was a chance it could cause tendon ruptures (WHAT THE HECK???), she’d prefer I used the Z-pac. But it was up to me – what did I think? I couldn’t tell if she was using her sarcastic, “where-did-you-go-to-medical-school-Mr-music-guy” voice, or if some sort of silent timer went off in her brain and she literally wanted out of my room.

So I’d sum up the week I almost died like this – I didn’t die, although I came close; I may or may not have food stuck in my throat; and my doctor/provider saved me from tendon ruptures, which combined with death, could have been a bad thing. Oh, and I may have inadvertently gotten on my provider’s nerves.

All things considered, it’s been a good week and I’ll be ready to play ukulele again tomorrow.

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