Pt = Patient

Doctors and nurses become patients, too. Being a patient usually involves nonspecific symptoms of pain, fever, or nausea as well as more specific symptoms, hopefully not exophthalmos (eyes bulging from their sockets). It also requires being patient, literally, because primary care doctors are overbooked and urgent care can be standing-room-only. ER is a whole different purgatory, and the lines at CVS remniscient of the DMV.

The good thing about being a patient who has her medical-surgical book in her bag is she doesn't have to strip and make the doctor play hide-and-go-seek-symptoms in every nook and cranny. Relevant symptoms are quickly reported: which lymph nodes are painful and swollen, like a string of pearls beneath the skin; what temperature fever; location, quality and duration of any pain. The necessity of diagnostic tests are discussed briefly, and then it's off to queue at Quest Diagnostics.

The bad thing about having received a partial nursing education is getting one's labs back and knowing what they mean or don't mean, but not necessarily why. (Why--the eternal question--the answer to which is 42*.) Also, since no cultures or sensitivity tests were ordered, that broad spectrum antibiotic was something of a shot in the dark. And even though it's an infection, not a baby (urine HCG normal), "We'll call you to schedule an ultrasound." Can an infectious organism sprout arms and legs and develop into a really awful baby?

At least this patient knows not to open up her pill capsules and sprinkle colorful granules all over her oatmeal like candy. The doctor said to finish all antibiotics, so compliance would be best, although the experts can't seem to make up their minds. Overuse of antibiotics in humans may not be quite as widespread and impact the environment at much as large-scale factory farms, but in the hospital habitat, there's always that patient who develops or comes back with C. diff after pneumonia, or wins the MRSA/VRSA lottery, trading one infection /condition for another: 1 infection + multiple antibiotics = 1 suprainfection or superinfection.
All this perhaps reminds us to be grateful for a relatively healthy, if not perfect, body. A baseline level of health: such a basic thing, yet vital to our ability to carry on, day after day, week after week.

*Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Popular Posts