Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When you have become a cesspool of bacteria

Me and my mood these days....

Okay, so I have had yet ANOTHER drug resisant infection, and about the only people I know who seem the least bit interested in finding out WHY the nasty bugs keep popping up like chiggers in my person are certainly not doctors. Between ERs and hospital stays I have seen about 8 of those, and all they seem to want to do is tell me I don't have MRSA (even though I was never cultured for it) and then prescribe another antibiotic. This month's antibiotic tally is currently up to 6.

I pause here to point out that there is more than the greed of our insurance system that has led to the current crisis in American healthcare.

The latest interlude at my local ER came last Friday. Earlier in the evening I had the great, good fortune to see Chris Rock at DAR Hall. I laughed so hard that my face hurt for an hour. Chris Rock is so profane, so outrageous, so pissed-off. How could anybody not love him? He put on a two-hour monologue with no intermission. That man has energy! Anyway, the only problem with the evening was that I had to pee all the time, which wasn't easy, because I had to excuse my way down the concert hall aisle. One's row-mates weary of that normally, though it helped that this group was semi-liquored up. By the time I got home, I was peeing blood. Back to the ER I went -- thanks to my good friend C, who happens to be an EMT and called around to find out where the emptiest ER in the city was. In the ER, the resident informed me that I had a "raging" bladder infection. (No lie, he used those words). Anything over a 3 on the bacterial count rates as an infection, but my poor pee was showing a rate of 180. At 3 AM, I came home taking Cipro, yet ANOTHER antibiotic.

Two days later, I felt those charming bladder infection symptoms returning so, being the conscientious patient that I am, I went back to see the infectious disease doc I had seen previously. Well, he couldn't find my ER visit or labs in my computer records, gave me the hairy eyeball, found nothing in yet another sample of my wee wee, and sneered me out of his office. "Hypochondriac, attention-seeking woman!" pretty much sums up this guy's attitude. The next day, the ER called to say, darn, this bladder infection is resistant to Cipro, so go on and get crazy -- take Macrobid now, please. With low symptoms, I opted not too. As far as I could tell, one more antibiotic would, well, lead to one more antibiotic, and the history of that was not serving me well. Instead, I drank lots of water and cranberry juice and rested up. Now my pee is all better.

Despite my many questions to the docs over the last month, such as, "Why would I be getting all these infections, Doctor?" and "Should I be concerned that this might be another drug resistant infection?" and "Are these infections related?" -- no medical personal seemed to be able to tell me much or even interested in considering these prosaic questions. One doctor did say, "How interesting...", after I explained my history, though. I guess that is something.

As far as I can tell, these doctors must be learning at least two key things in school: 1) Treat women as though they are hysterical hypochondriacs until deathly lab results induce you to start listening to them; and 2) Keep the pharmaceutical business spry by handing out plenty of meds, rather than investigate root causes.

Okay, I am bitter.

At this point, a lightbulb went off over my drug-induced noggin, and I called the integrative medicine center where I had been treated in the past for thyroid disease and menopause. (Integrative medicine includes western, eastern, and alternative treatments with an emphasis on boosting the immune system.) The Amazing Barbara, the nurse practioner there, had me in her office instantly, interviewed me for an hour, and said, "We need to find the root cause of why your body is open to getting these infections." Proverbial music to my ears. Yes, yes, let's DO find out the cause and improve my immune system! What a wonderful idea! She put me on stuff to increase the "good" bacteria in my system, recommended a better batch of vitamins, and arranged for me to come back for a full workup in a week.

At last, a medical person who is NOT giving me another antibiotic. Could it be because she is a nurse practitioner? Familiar with alternative medicine? Just plain has common sense? I don't know, but I do know that I appreciate a medical, healing-type person treating me like a person -- and not a walking petri dish.

Did I say that I was bitter?

1 comment:

Blue Lass said...

You forgot the 3rd thing they learn in medical school -- blame it on the computer (there is no record of my last emergency room visit, either, which made it kind of hard to get the allergist referral.) Oh, and I keep getting the SAME tests over and over again because apparently it's easier to send me off to the lab than to actually read my file. I think the next time I go into anaphylaxis, I'll just go directly to the HMO and throw up there.