Thursday, September 09, 2004

I'm baaa-aaack

Sorry for the long absence, folks, but I was (am) out of commission.

After a really wonderful coffee with lots of other Israeli bloggers who write in English, I had a relaxing fun weekend with family and friends. D. has been particularly wonderful, attentive, talking about the future in definitive tones. He even allowed me to take him shopping Friday, bought most of what I pointed out and didn't grump about the price.

Cutest was that we bought him a nice pair of khakis (made his ass look cute) but they were too long and needed to be tailored. Friday night he went straight to my dad's synagogue to pray with him, so I didn't see what hewas wearing. He didn't even say he was going to meet my dad -- he just did. See what I mean abot him being better?

Anyway, I met him after synagogue and he was wearing the new pants, and magically they were the right length. I thought that was pretty fast, since the tailor was definitely closed when we were done shopping. I asked him about it and he said he'd pinned them -- with straight pins! He said he thought I would like it if he wore the new pants, since he knows I hate his nasty clothes, so he just "fixed" them temporarily! He's so cute!

Anway, Saturday night I started feeling kinda achy, run down and had the chills. By bedtime my chest was hurting. By Sunday morning, my 3rd to last day of work, my nurse-roomate Mia said "You must go straight to the doctor". To make a very long story short, I ended up in the emergency room with 104 F (39.9 C) fever and a mass on my mediastinum (the bone in the middle of your chest). This was scary. I couldn't breathe well, was sick as hell, and had a mass that they could not identify. They couldn't find pneumonia on the chest X-rays, which would have explained my symptoms, and the next clear idea was lymphoma - the big C.

I hung out in the emergency room for 8 hours drinking fluids through my arm, taking meds, and trying to bring the fever down. They told me my fever was high enough to admit me, but that because I was young and had a nurse at home, I could go to my house and be sick there with an unknown illness instead. So I went home.

Sunday night I tried sleeping at my folks. No sleep was had. Between the inability to breathe, and a now 103 F fever, I was up all night, gasping for air. At around 3:30 am my mom had to help me take a cold shower to bring down the fever. I don't think I have let her see me buck naked since I was about 10.

I spent all Monday at my parents, throwing up, with my sisters bringing me things and both my dog and my parents' dog curled up in bed with me. I went to my family doctor at around noon, who told me what I had was no big deal, to take Tylenol for pain and fever reduction, and to just suck it up because nothing was really wrong with me. I went home Monday night because I was so bored. My parents have no books in the house since their lift is not yet here.

By Tuesday nothing had changed, so I went back to my doctor's office, but asked to see a new doctor from the same practice. I didn't like that my doctor, Dr. L., had, on Sunday, told me I had nothing wrong with me. Because I insisted she let me have a chest x-ray. Which revealed a mass in my chest. Not a good thing. Then on Monday she didn't seem to care that I hadn't slept in 2 nights, was suffering, and was scared about this mass in my chest. She told me to repeat the chest x-ray in 2 weeks and suck it up. Fortunately I didn't listen to her. I made an appointment with a pulmonologist behind her back.

Anyway, the new doctor, Dr. R., took one look at me, my chest X-rays and my fever and said "This is bullshit". He told me I needed a CT scan of my chest immediately, not in 2 weeks. He said we could be dealing with a very serious illness -- lymphoma. And that waiting was the worst thing to do.

So I went back to the emergency room, because here in Israel, the only way to be admitted to the hospital is through the emergency room. The doctors there have to decide to admit you.

I saw a bad French doctress, in the least sensible shoes I have ever seen a doctor wear. Sequined, high-heeled, and easily ruined by sick people. I knew this doctor was French before she even opened her mouth. And when she did, it was clear she was recent graduate of medical ulpan. She knew medical terminology in Hebrew and not much else. Anyway, she hemmed and hawed, blew the vein in my left arm trying to get more blood (after a well-intentioned nurse blew my right arm), and finally thought she should bring in a pulmonologist. I told her I just wanted a CT scan of my chest. The pulmonologist came down. Bless her soul, she had a head on her shoulders and couldn't believe that no one had given me a CT scan yet. She couldn't understand why they let me leave on Sunday night without a diagnosis.

The pulmonologist told me "You're not to leave here without a CT scan. If someone tries to discharge you without one, come find me. I'll see you after your scan and talk to you more". I never saw her again.

I had my CT scan, and then began shivering uncontrollably and turned white. Fever was back with a vengeance. I waited in the ER for another hour, and the French lady told me that she couldn't find a radiologist to read my CT scan, but she looked at it, and she thought I could go home. Again, no diagnosis. I asked to see the pulmonologist but she told me I was discharged so I couldn't see any other doctors anymore. She said she was putting me on a different antibiotic.

I should mentioned here that Ihave violent allergic reactions to certain things. Penicillin, erythromycin and cefovit antibiotics are 3 of them. This information is on my chart, always. I make sure to tell every nurse and doctor. This one asked me (even though it was written on my chart) if I was allergic to erythromycin. I said yes. She then wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic called Azenil.

The discharge nurse gave me the prescription and told me that I had to go back to my health insurance clinic to have the script re-written onto Maccabi (my health insurance) forms, in order to have them cover it. I was really angry at that. It was 5:30 pm, the offices close at 6:00 pm, I was a 30 minute taxi-ride away and sick as hell. And to get my medicine I had to race across town!

I decided to go to my family doctor, the new one, Dr. R., because he could also write the srcipt on Maccabi paper and it would be easier then going to the health insurance clinic. Thank god I did.

He took one look at my script for Azenil and said "Noa, this is erythromycin, you're allergic to this medicine". Previous reactions included anaphylactic shock. Which, with my already screwed up lungs could have been fatal! Then he asked what the CT scan had found. I told him they had no one to read it, and that the French doctor had told me to call back Sunday for the results. This was on Tuesday, mind you. Well, he really hit the fan! He called up the radiology department, and started screaming at them. He couldn't believe the incompetence. I like Dr. R. a lot better than Dr. L. He couldn't believe someone had the nerve to write "Diagnosis: Call back in 5 days to find out. Treatment plan: Wait 5 days, follow up with someone else" on discharge papers.

Anyway, at the end of all this, it turns out I have a very bad and very weird pneumonia.

Weird because:
1) I was not sick at all beforehand and then wham! 104 F fever, inability to breathe
2) Pneumonias normally occur in the lower lobes of the lung. Down at the bottom. And mine is in the left upper lobe. All the way at the top. And he said it is a very massive infection, encompassing most of the lobe.

Very bad because:
Its enormous and he said it will take a long time to recover. Like over a month just to be functioning, longer to be truly well.

Good thing I am on vacation.

In my next post I will describe just how grumpy and irritable I was after 3 days of no sleep, 101-104 F fever and chest pains. I bitched a lot of people out.

I've just rented Season 2 of Sex and the City.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yikes...I hope you are feeling better...when you become a nurse, you will know even better how to treat patients.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horrible story! I work for a Jerusalem hospital, and all I can say is that I really, really hope the part with the wrong prescription/unsensibly-shoed doctoress didn't happen at mine. Thank G-d you found a sensible family doctor!

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sooo sorry you are sick (but pleased that you finally have a diagnosis!). I am also feeling a little guilty because I was getting annoyed at you for not having written anyting in over a week! :-)

Pretty selfish, huh?

Anyway, let me know if you need anything... I'll be shopping in Jerusalem in the morning for shabbat stuff.

Feel better!

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh... by the way, that was David ( the shopping offer... I always forget that your blog only allows anonymous messages for non-members.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yey!!! glad to hear that its pneumonia and that you are finally diagnosed and can work on recovery. hopefully now you can sleep instead of making international phone calls at 2:30 am. want to recuperate in chicago? I heard that there is a very cute, smart boy that just moved there. :)

3:52 AM  
Blogger Noa said...

Thanks for the good wishes everyone.

David -- I figured the shopping offer was you! Thanks so much, I sent my own D. to the shuk. Also, thanks for passing on my info to your friend about babysitting!

Anon-- The hospital was Hadassah Ein Kerem. Maybe while I'm a student there I can revamp this crazy mess of a system.

Anon/Josh - Love ya babe

All other Anons - Thanks for the good wishes!

3:26 PM  

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