Monday, November 30, 2009

In the afternoon, I slept

I'm back.  Today I say good bye to all my flu rituals and my flu lifestyle.  The bottle of NyQuil I had on top of the microwave, as well as my digital thermometer, the bottle of aspirin, the Vitamin C--- are gone.  The Gatorade and left over chicken soup in the fridge--- gone, too. The worst symptom by far was fever.  I would wake up drenched in sweat, running such a high fever, that I couldn't tell on some mornings if I was really awake or still stuck in a nightmare.  I would take an ativan to calm myself down, swill the NyQuil, take a warm shower, then an alcohol sponge bath.  I would set out with Molly just to reconnect with the real world.  Back at home, another shaky attempt at taking my temp and more alcohol rubbed all over my body.  By noon, the fever had dissipated, but I was exhausted.  I wrote down the times I took medication b/c I couldn't trust my addled brain.  In the afternoons, I slept.  Then watched more movies than a film critic at a festival; 21 Grams, An Affair to Remember, The Taking of Pelham 123 (the remake), White Castle, and others I'm sure I'll never remember.

It was disheartening because I had been very, very cautious.  I made sure I exercised.  I took Vitamin C and most of all, the hand washing and the hand sanitizing.  Flu notices are posted all over the Lehman College Campus.  I took them seriously.  All of the teacher's rest rooms had fresh soap, hot water and hand sanitizer.  There were dispensers all over campus.  I always used them.  I ate well. I got plenty of rest.  No late nights.  Three days into it I wanted to call my go-to doctor.  Dr. Hecht.  I've been seeing her for ten years.  She knows me really well.  But she doesn't take health insurance.  Her office visits are $250.00.   In the past, if I didn't have the money, I could make payments.  Believe me, she is worth it.  She's old school.  First a 20 to 25 minute consultation.  Then a thorough physical examination.  Then another 20-25 minutes discussing what to do, plus most importantly allaying my fears. 

But I couldn't do it this time.  I wouldn't.  Debt is debt.  And I'm swimming in it.  I called my primary care physician's office--- covered by my health insurance.  To be honest, I think of that office as a prescription and referral factory.  They don't know me, I'm just another number.  I'm another piece of paperwork pushed from one corporation to another.  I explained my symptoms to the receptionist, and she called me back two hours later and told me a prescription for Tamiflu was waiting at my pharmacy.  This is the doctor who prescribed Cipro for a sinus infection which exploded in my stomach five hours later.  So I researched Tamiflu and discovered its a waste of time after 48 hours.  I called again.  Was told--- don't take it anymore.  WTF?

Dr. Hecht would never have prescribed Tamiflu.  She would've mapped out diet (in great detail), vitamins, and a precise method for reducing fever--- for me.  Because she knows me, knows my body, my history, my likes, my dislikes.  The wonderful, compassionate, Dr. Hecht would also call me every day to check on how I was doing.  For a woman who lives alone, this is invaluable.  She the consummate old school family doctor. I once called her at 4:30 a.m. on a cold winter morning.  She returned my phone call fifteen minutes later.  After I described my symptoms, she told me I needed antibiotics. I said I was too sick to go out, the dead of winter.  She found a pharmacy in the East Village and I called a friend who delivered them to me. 

This is medicine.  The rest is just dreck.  I'm fine now.  Ready to get back to work.  Relieved that I didn't add another $250.00 to my already crushing debt.  But honestly, its ridiculous I had to weather this alone.  My "health insurance" did nothing for me, and quite possibly made things worse.  I'm a hard working woman with a full time job and health insurance, and yet I couldn't call my doctor. 

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