Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Life: Stress, Seeking Relief

Tuesday, 5/10 I felt ill at work and so left a little early.  My throat and lungs have a nasty, tingly feeling that might indicate I've caught something.  I hope not, but the portents are not favorable to return to work the next morning as usual.

Wednesday, 5/11 I have a fever and general lack of energy.  I opt to remain home at chez Shotgun until such time as these annoying symptoms abate.  I begin taking ibuprofen sans whiskey, which means I must face the certain hell of three ill-behaved hounds, a 12 year old who is clearly in the wrong home and The Girl whose unbridled hatred of my mother's favorite son is becoming apparent to everyone, even Shotgun Bob, unanesthetized.

Thursday, 5/12 My fever switches on and off all day.  I'm too sick to work and not miserable enough to consult a witch doctor.  I remain in my personal quarters as much as possible, ignoring the hounds, Flounder and The Girl.

Friday, 5/13 My fever travels up and down all day, so I remain at home.  Pressure and stress from The Girl cause me to ignore my illness and move my residence from chez Shotgun to Extended Stay America.  My illness is becoming more severe and my energy level is at an all-time low.  In spite of my fever or perhaps because of it, I set up a moving day for Saturday.  If I remain, I'll eventually snap and say something honest and truthful to The Girl about graceful human behavior and not rummaging through her dinner salad like it was a sock drawer.  Around 1:00 PM I conclude I must seek professional help, and I'm not talking about a hit man.  I go to urgent care at Walgreen drugs to consult with a nursing practitioner.  I'm seen by an assistant and passed through triage to the nurse practitioner, a nice, polite Southern lady who prescribes a steroid, an antibiotic and a cough suppressant. In retrospect, I think the cough suppressant is the thing that gets me in trouble as I stop coughing and so fail to expel the disgusting fluid collecting in my lungs. This fluid prevents my asthma medication from reaching the lower part of my lungs, so any and all asthma attacks I suffer are now untreated.  Not good.  Then, as I attempt to pay for my medication I'm told that my health insurance has been cancelled as of 3/31/11.  I find this a little hard to believe, as my insurance is through COBRA and the company has been cashing my premium checks in a very consistent manner.  I get about four hours sleep due to illness and stress.  Without insurance, who will treat my condition should I get worse?

At 12:30 AM (one half hour after midnight) I'm awoken from a troubled sleep by Shotgun Bob and The Girl trying to get the dogs in from the pool area.  The lights are on and both idiots are taking turns yelling, trying to get Pork Chop and Big Blue to come inside.  Neither will go out and catch the thrice damned dog, but will alternate bellowing in a loud voice to get the dog to do what it won't: come inside.  When I first woke up I looked at the clock and concluded I'd overslept and that it was after 12 noon.  I fail to get back to sleep until after 5:00 AM.  I get a total of about four or five hours sleep and feel like five miles of bad road.

Saturday, 5/14  I move into Extended Stay America.  My fever comes and goes and my breathing is terrible.  I have chills and am disoriented from lack of sleep.  What I really need is a keeper.

In all the time I've stayed at chez Shotgun, The Girl has instigated a conversation with me exactly twice.  As I depart The Girl comes out to the driveway long enough to castigate me for not saying good-bye.  She says it's very irritating to her, and notes that I've done it before.  Being a gentleman, I offer an apology - which is neither acknowledged nor accepted.  Shotgun Bob is somewhat embarrassed, I think.

The noise of my own lungs keeps me awake.  My fever comes and goes.  I get about four hours sleep.

Sunday, 5/15  My fever is gone and I'm feeling better during the morning.  The stress of living at chez Shotgun has vanished, but is replace by the problem with my health insurance.  I unpack and take life easy.  As the day wears on I feel worse.  Again, 4 to 5 hours sleep due to breathing problems and stress.

Monday, 5/16  I'm still too sick to work.  I resolve my health insurance.  A helpful voice on the phone tracks down the error to an incompetent accounting department and sees that the error is fixed.  I feel better.  That night I'm kept awake by the idiot next door who is yakking away in some foreign language.  The entire hotel is as quiet as a graveyard at midnight except for this asshole, who either doesn't know that this is a shared space or doesn't care.  I pound on the wall and he shuts up as fast as if I'd thrown a light switch.  The noise of my own lungs keeps me awake, so at 11:30 PM I rouse myself and head for the ER.  I can't get a full breath and my lungs are making more noise than a pair of hot teenagers wrestling over a bra that won't come undone.

I go to St Francis Hospital (5959 Park Avenue; Memphis, TN 38119-5198) which is a big, big mistake.  I'm examined briefly by a nurse who fails to listen to my chest and then I'm told to wait in the waiting room for an indefinite time.  Only one treatment room is open and there are three people ahead of me.  I wait an hour and decide that this is bullshit.  For one thing, I see signs all over the place stating that this hospital is part of some kind of State funded public medical care program that makes everyone - regardless of race, color, religious beliefs, immigration status or sexual orientation - entitled to medical attention even if they can't pay for it.  Moreover, the hospital doesn't ask me about my health insurance or my ability to pay.  I leave, heading for Methodist LeBonheur Germantown Hospital (7691 Poplar Avenue, Germantown, TN 38138).  It's rather different.

The ER staff at the Methodist hospital is the opposite of St. Francis.  I'm greeted pleasantly by a nurse as soon as I walk in, and the medical staff seizes me before I complete my paperwork, explaining that "You can do that later; they really don't need it right now anyway."  I'm examined by two nurses and stuck with a single needle which is turned into a cute little faucet that they can use for deposits or withdrawals.  They say I'm sick, but they can fix that.  Maybe.

I stay until 10:30 AM the next day, have three nebulizer treatments (maximum number allowable), three chest x-rays along with an MRI on my lungs and extensive blood work.  I receive several shots and am eventually discharged with two prescriptions and the news that a spot on my lung is likely pneumonia.  I call in sick.

Tuesday, 5/17  Between getting some breakfast and picking up my prescriptions and calming mom down, I fall asleep about 3:00 in the afternoon.  Shotgun Bob thoughtfully wakes me up at 5:00 to see if I'm okay.  It turns out I am.  I go back to sleep at 9:00 PM and wake up naturally at 6:00 in the morning on Wednesday.  I'm disoriented, forgetting to do routine things.  For instance, I forgot to pack myself a lunch and I left my briefcase in the trunk of my car.

Wednesday, 5/18 I'm here at work.  I don't accomplish a damned thing, but I do get paid.

Welcome to America.


Capt. Schmoe said...

It's enough to make ya go mad, Jack! Good luck.

Mad Jack said...

Thanks, Cap. Last night it was another trip to the ER, treatments and my steroid meter has redlined.