Wednesday, January 25, 2006

On the mend.

Health care is ridiculously expensive. I took Todd to the doctor yesterday, as he was still getting sick and quite honestly, I was wondering if he was contagious. The nurse came in and asked all the questions...Achy? Yes. Fever? Yes, 102 degrees. Nausea and vomiting? Yes, 6 times in the last 24 hours. Headache? Yes. Fatigue? Yes. So I mentioned to her on her way out that he hadn't had a flu shot this year. She said, "Oh, that doesn't matter, he doesn't show any signs of flu." WTF? Even I know that everything listed above is a list of classic flu symptoms.

So the doctor comes in, asks the same 20 questions. She's convinced he has the flu. She tells us there's a test to see if it's flu, and that it will cost around $40, would we like to take it? Sure. She swabbed his nostrils and came back 15 minutes to tell us the test came back negative, but that she still wasn't convinced it wasn't the flu, maybe it was just too early to tell.

So she starts asking all kinds of other questions to determine if he has meningitis and a whole list of other things that might present themselves with flu-like symptoms. All negative. As she's going through this, his nausea is getting worse and worse, so she, of course, suggests a shot of Phenergan to stop the nausea. I asked if we could have a prescription for some pills to have on hand at home and she suggested we do the shot and the pills. "How much is the shot?" "Well, $16 to administer it and another $30 or so for the shot." Sure. Go ahead.

Turns out the shot was the best thing he got out of that visit - it knocked him out and allowed him to sleep for about 15 hours straight, no more nausea. After paying $241 for the visit and all that, she sent us on our way with a prescription for Tamiflu since she was convinced it was the flu. "If you are not better by tomorrow, you must get this filled and take it immediately. If you keep vomicking (she said vomiting, of course) you must go to the ER for fluids. If your neck stiffens and begins to hurt, go to the ER immediately. And, yes, this is contagious." Great.

I took Todd home and headed to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled. The Phenergan was only $3.06. The Tamiflu was NINETY DOLLARS. I left that Tamiflu with the Walgreens people, came home and told Todd that we'd fill that one today if he really was not feeling any better.

We are young and healthy, and don't require a lot of health care or prescription drugs. Maybe twice a year we have to do something like this. I just can't imagine what our older population has to endure when it comes to the cost of health care. The Tamiflu was an optional drug for Todd, unlike many seniors who must take blood pressure medication, blood thinners, cholesterol meds, etc. I could have stuck that syringe in his (very nice) butt muscle and saved us $16. Perhaps we should take the care of our bodies and minds into our own hands...Of course, I can't get my hands on a shot of Phenergan that quickly or easily, but man, did it make him feel better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Life with Vomick

I'm not going to talk about any details of upchucking here, but I do need to address some things.

My poor husband was up all night with some sort of stomach bug, flu or parasite eel swimming through his intestines. This morning I woke him up and gave him some medicine and tried to make him drink some fluids...He just looked awful, like he felt terrible. I decided to go into the office to get my laptop and some work I can do from home so that I could stay with him and take care of him. There's no way he can get off the couch and he needs his fluids. After all, I may not be a doctor, but I play one at home.

So on my way to the office I was thinking about my life experiences with vomicking. (My sister, who is a paramedic and firefighter, changed "vomit" to "vomick" in our family's vocabulary once she'd received over a hundred calls from people who were violently VOMICKING.)

It all starts with my mom and her morbid fear of it. As children, if it was time to vomick, it was time for my mother to run out the front door screaming, arms flailing, down the street barefoot, and then for her to pick up the phone to call her friend Ann to come over and care for us. Once Dad got home, it was his shift.

In the middle of the night, if we were to wake up and feel vomicky, we yelled for Dad. If mom woke up first, you could hear her in their bedroom, shaking my father awake, "John, get up. One of the kids is sick...GET OUT OF BED AND TAKE CARE OF HER!"

I don't know if it was her fear of the vomicking that rubbed off on us, or if it's hereditary, but once I was old enough to realize that the world stopped when you were nauseated, I became equally as scared. Only my fear took on different shapes and forms. I wouldn't get out of the safety of my own bed to vomick. If I was sick, I simply yelled for my dad to bring me a receptacle to vomick INTO, and if he didn't make it on time, he had a hell of a mess to clean up. Dad cleaning, and mom standing a safe distance away, making a mask with her hands cupped over her face, asking me why in the hell I couldn't just "do it" in a toilet like most normal people do.

But I couldn't. It wasn't until I was in college that I started even taking myself near the bathroom to do it. I can remember after one particular night of drinking, waking up in the middle of the night, Dad not being a couple doors down, and walking into the bathroom of my apartment (that I shared with two other girls) to "make it happen." I couldn't bring myself to put my face that close to where a butt goes to do it...So I did it in the sink. The next morning my roommates were giving me the silent treatment (I'd apparently left a mess that they cleaned up for me, YAY!) and I realized a couple of things...(1) given that I hate to vomick so badly, drinking excessively was probably not a life pattern I wanted to shape for myself and (2) it was time for me to belly up to the commode and vomick like everyone else.

So I learned to do it, and to keep every toilet in my apartment as sparkling clean as possible. Just in case.

My brother and I have a couple of things in common when it comes to being nauseated...First, no talking. If people talk to us, we feel as though their words are physically pulling the sickness out of us like a well pulley. We also feel, and have strong convictions about the fact that we can distract ourselves from it completely. I can't tell you how many books, magazines or phone books I've read for the sole purpose of distracting myself from getting sick. "This will not happen. This will not happen. This will not happen, I am not sick. I am not sick. I am not sick." It works.

I wondered this morning, on my way home from the store, if other people have laid in bed and prayed to their God to take their lives, let them fall asleep and never wake up, just so that the sickness will go away? For me, death seems so much more bearable than to vomick. Of course, a couple days later I'm always thanking God for fast food and for leaving me here to get past it. And for "Grey's Anatomy", I thank Him for that sometimes, too.

As sweet Todd lies in the next room recovering from his bout with The Vomick right now...I'm wondering if he has any idea what's in store for him...If he has given me the bug that he has...

PS - After reading back over this I thought it necessary to mention, if I haven't in this forum already, that my mother is a very caring and nurturing mother. It was only in the vomick situation that she would hand the reigns over to our father to take care of us. Even today my brother can torture her by simulating a gag with sounds from his throat that will make her almost lose it.