Saturday, March 16, 2013

I am a drug abuser.

Well, it's snowing here.


My cold returned in full force.


I took myself to the doctor's office, and I've got to say, the physician's assistant there is a piece of work. She is rude and short and sharp. She told me pointedly, "You're not getting an antibiotic."

Since I hadn't asked for one, she took me by surprise. I said, "Why not?"

She explained to me that most of this sort of thing was viral, and that antibiotics were for bacterial infections. She told me that viral illnesses clear up on their own.

I pointed out that after 22 days of this (thank goodness for blogs, I had looked it up), I thought that it had been given every chance to go away on its own, and had not done so. I also explained that I worked with a medically fragile population, and that my coughing was horrifying co-workers who were beginning to treat me as if I were irresponsible to come to work while sick.

She suggested that I try some of the many over the counter drugs available.


I'd been doing that right along. It hadn't worked. The cold was getting worse. The gagging cough had started to cause nausea. I could not lay down at night for the choking. My back still ached from the violence of the previous night's coughing. My voice was hoarse. My ears were clogged. My throat was sore. My old standby, the neti pot, was not working. The cold medication was not working. So I'd made a doctor's appointment.

I said, "You know, I understand the reasoning behind cutting back on antibiotic use, and I have no quarrel with it, but I'm sick, and I've been sick forever, and I am not getting better, I'm getting worse. You can see by my records that I'm not a person who runs to the doctor for every little sniffle."

She grabbed my records in an impatient way and says, "You were here last May. And you got antibiotics."

I looked at her.

She looked back at me accusingly. "Would that be correct?"

Me: "Well, I'm assuming so, if that's what the records say."

She looked at me triumphantly, as if she'd proven a valuable point. I was obviously an abuser of antibiotics. "Viral infections can go on for a while. I think that you are getting reinfected by the virus."

I looked at her in astonishment.

Here's a piece of trivia for you. Every time that someone gets a viral infection, they become immune to that infection. What that means is that each time you catch a cold, it's a slightly different cold. Viruses mutate and change, but this does not happen over night. Her point wasn't even valid.

In the end, she ungraciously told me that she was giving me a prescription for antibiotic and a cough syrup with codeine. I was a little surprised by that. Codeine is quite a powerful narcotic, and it just seems ironic to me that she'll argue to the death about an antibiotic, yet codeine is prescribed without second thought.

I felt stupid and foolish and over reactive, but today, 4 days later, I'm finally getting over the cough (didn't even need to take use any cough syrup yesterday, including the night dose of codeine laced syrup). I still have the cold symptoms but they are easing.

What I know for a fact is that if I go back after the antibiotics, it will prove this stubborn woman's point: I did not need them. If the cold is gone, she will say that it would have gone away anyhow. If the cold is still present, she will say the antibiotics were ineffective, just as she knew they would be.

I went to the pharmacy and discovered that she had only wired one prescription to them, and I had to wait for them to call the doctor, get that mess sorted out and fill the second prescription.

I waited with my clogged head, and my horrible cough. The pharmacist heard the cough, and she gave me a cough drop and said sympathetically, "That sounds just awful."

I agreed with her.

When my prescription was filled, they called me to the window by name, ahead of the people waiting in line, so that I could take my obviously sick self home with my drugs. Seems ironic that I got more kindness from the pharmacist than the physician's assistant.


A Novel Woman said...

You have physician's assistants? And they can diagnose and prescribe drugs?? That's insane.

jeanie said...

I too came in to ask the same question. It sounds like my dentist's - you are shunted to the hygienist and they charge like you have seen a dentist but without the workload for them.

I do hope that the drugs work!!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand Deb. What is a physician's assistant? And why did you not see a doctor if you had made an appointment to see one? It is quite possible if after being ill with the cold that length of time that your obviously stressed immune system had allowed an 'opportunist' bacterial type of infection to move in and at the least your lungs should have been listened too to make sure there was no type of complication there.
But then I am only a humble pharmacist. Have seen plenty of different types of events though.
She sounds like an obnoxious type of control freak who shouldn't be allowed near sick people - probably well ones too!
Good to hear you are on the mend anyway. The big problem with antibiotics as I see it is that people start to feel better and don't complete the course - some of them even keep the few that are left - 'for next time'. They are among the worst culprits for antbiotic resistance in the community and should be told how they endanger others with that practice. We always stress that 'ad nauseam' at times to anyone having a prescription filled.
Anyway it will be good to have a 'well Deb' back again. Look after yourself. Love Bx

Oh boy! Don't know if I will get this past that word verification. Can't guarantee to read it accurately. Here goes!

Mary O. Paddock said...

Most of the PAs I've dealt with have been great. But this one? You should complain to the doctor who oversees her (especially if you have a good relationship with him/her).

BB said...

You are considered a 'regular' if you see the doctor once every ten months? Really? Obviously us Aussies don't deal with Doctor's 'assistants' - sounds like her bedside manner resembles a surgeon!!

Have to say that I wait and wait before I will ever see a doctor with this kind of thing, but if I have to, the antibiotics knock it on the head pronto.

Get well soon!

quid said...


Frustrating encounter, but glad you are getting better.