I finally went to the doctor on Wednesday. I'd been feeling really rundown and sick for more than a week
and it finally dawned on me that this was not
just a cold.
But here's the thing: I don't have a doctor.
My long-time GP retired last summer, and I just received a letter from her successor, saying that he's moved on, also. I don't much mind, because I didn't know him well and, frankly, what I knew I didn't lik
e. But it did leave me in a bind now that I need treatment.
I went down to the walk-in clinic just a half mile from my house. What a lucky choice that was! The nurse practitioner, Ruth, was terrific
! She was thorough, communicative, compassionate. She took the wheezing in my chest seriously and didn't like the level of oxygen in my blood. This confused her, as she repeated that I didn't "present" as sick as the test indicated I was.
She decided to send me for a chest x-ray. This was news I wasn't expecting. But, she told me, hypoxemia is serious in patients "our age." Over 55. AARP members. Old broads. It could account for my fatigue, and if it continued, it might lead to COPD and/or organ damage.
What the hey! I thought it was a cold with a tenacious cough! Then she added the word I was afraid was coming but hoped not to hear: pneumonia.
There's a disconnect between my age and how I feel. I've heard of "elderly," "senior" patients for whom colds and flu turn into pneumonia. I just don't feel elderly or senior yet. But, I'm 62, so I have to accept this.
My history of c. diff complicates things.
Up to 25% of c. diff patients suffer recurrence. Antibiotics are a dicey issue for me. As a nurse practitioner, Ruth didn't want to prescribe antibiotics that could awaken any dormant c. diff germies. Yet if it turned out to be pneumonia, I would need a higher level of care than she could give me.
So I went to immediate care, x-ray order in hand. The entire process -- from check in to photographs -- took 30 minutes. I don't think I've had a chest x-ray before. Takes less time than a mammogram.
By end of day Wednesday, I had my diagnosis: bronchitis. Yea! So much less serious than pneumonia. The radiologist also reported that my spine curves. Yes, we know that now. Isn't it funny how I went decades with no one talking about my back, and now a chiropractor and radiologist are all about my "scoliosis?"
I worked from home Thursday and today. Attended a meeting over the phone, made a few revisions from my dining room table, but mostly I took it easy and was careful to puff on my inhaler every six hours.
And am reminding myself that I have to take stuff like this more seriously going forward. I get mad at John and Henry for not listening to their doctors, and here I am, with no doctor of my own.
Ruth gave me a folder of general practitioners she's familiar with at the nearby hospital. I'll have to look them over and see if there's one that looks like a good match.