Medical memory

I’m dragging myself around today with a splitting head, raging sinuses, and congested chest. I was meant to stay home today to take care of gall bladder girl. She’s having the typical “3rd day after surgery” downturn, and needs a little extra TLC today. Unfortunately, I don’t have much in me.

Really all I have is a bad cold. But every virus I get settles in my lungs and turns into a nasty respiratory thing. There’s a story behind that…

imageDuring my senior year in high school I was in bed for two solid weeks with what we finally discovered was bronchitis. I’m still not clear on why it took a week and a half of my having a fever and coughing my lungs up every few minutes for my mom to take me to a doctor. In general she had an aversion to the medical profession, and it’s possible we didn’t have health insurance…but having lived through more than twenty years now of being a mom myself, I’m hesitant to judge. I’ve made plenty of my own questionable decisions.

Anyway, when she finally took me to the doctor’s office, I was seen by a resident. He warned me that as my bronchitis had gone untreated for so long I was likely to have trouble with my lungs for the rest of my life. I didn’t care much for his attitude; he was smug and disapproving. As it turn out he was right about the future of my lungs. But that’s not what I remember most about that office visit.

For whatever reason, doctors always feel compelled to put a wooden stick on your tongue and make you say “ah.” I suppose in this case it was warranted, due to the nature of my complaint. But here’s what will forever stick in my mind: this smarmy resident pulled a tongue depressor out of a jar, stuck it in my mouth to look at my throat, and then PUT MY GERMY STICK BACK INTO THE JAR WITH THE CLEAN ONES.

My mom and I stared with wide-eyed horror. She glanced at me and I knew exactly what she was thinking: Should we say anything? This guy had been a total jerk – it would be awesome to call him on it. Then we saw that the doc had caught our non-verbal communication. He knew he’d been caught. But, true to his arrogant manner, he moved right along, pretending nothing had happened.

We never knew the ending to that story. Did Dr. Pain in the Ass go back after we left, surreptitiously dump out the entire jar of tongue depressors, and order a nurse to disinfect the jar? Or did he refuse to acknowledge his error and just let the next 100 patients be exposed to my germs? Surely he did the right thing. Didn’t he?

Whatever ended up happening, this unusual memory gives me something to think about every time I get a respiratory infection.

And now, time to haul myself out of bed and try to be of some use to the invalid downstairs before she rouses herself and tries to take care of me.


2 thoughts on “Medical memory

  1. I may be on the semi-quiet side, and I don’t like to ruffle too many feathers……….until it comes to a gaffe by a medical professional. Not that I have a phobia of germs, but I’m a rule follower. Even though that was one of those “duh” rules, I would have tattled on him at the very least. But that’s the honey badger in me. 🙂


    • Yeah, today I would definitely speak out. I think I was too sick that day, and I don’t know what was the deal with my mom – she’s definitely not one to keep quiet about anything!


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