had I just come from Qom, Iran
Monday, March 2 2020
Yesterday I'd posted something on Facebook about my predicament of being bedridden with a nasty illness while Gretchen is away, and I got a lot of nice feedback (which shouldn't be surprising). Among those responding was Jessika from Charlottesville, talking about a health ordeal she'd been through several years ago that mine was reminding her of. As with me, she'd thought she could just wait out the illness and her body would heal itself. Things didn't work that way, though, and eventually she found herself in the emergency room. When they tested her blood-oxygen levels, they were so low they thought the machine was broken. Someone with such low levels shouldn't be able to walk. She ended up in the intensive care unit and it became a huge, expensive mess, all of which would've been prevented had she sought medical attention earlier. That was a spooky story, and this morning I wasn't all that confident whether or not the mucous I was coughing up was just in my bronchial tubes or from my lungs. I've actually had pneumonia in the past (back in my early 20s, when I lived in the Shaque at my parents' place). That had ultimately required a trip to the emergency room and antibiotics to fix (by then it had turned into something the doctors termed a "blood infection").
So I took a nice hot shower to clean away the sweat and grime and scheduled an appointment at EmergencyOne (in Kingston on Hurley Avenue), since that is always the first place we go when we have a medical condition we think needs professional attention. By the time I drove there, my temperature was about normal and I was able to bank up enough void in my respiratory system to go for about 15 minutes before needing to cough. As I approached the EmergencyOne building, I was greeted by a sign saying that if anyone was experiencing flu-like symptoms and had been to Wuhan, China in the last fourteen days, then they were not to enter the facility but instead take themselves to a proper hospital emergency room. That list of criteria seemed highly-specific and a bit dated. Weren't coronavirus cases coming from multiple places in China now? And weren't they also coming from a number of other hotspots in other countries, particularly in Iran, Korea, and Italy? This wouldn't've been worrying were it not for the fact that when I finally saw a medical professional (the waits there aren't bad, particularly if you pre-schedule), all that was done was a checking of my vitals and a stethoscopic listen to my breathing. There was no collection of a sample of my sputum to determine what was actually causing my problem; indeed, the doctor seemed unconcerned with whether I was being attacked by a virus or a bacterium. When he saw that my oxygen levels were normal and could hear my lungs performing acceptably, he gave me a diagnosis of "acute bronchitis" and wrote me a prescription for Mucinex DM (which is actually an over-the-counter tablet form of the tussin we used to abuse back in the days of Big Fun). Interestingly, while the nurse who checked my oxygen levels and blood pressure did not wear a face mask, the doctor who came in and listened to my breathing with a stethoscope did. Had I just come from Qom, Iran, the center of the coronavirus spread in that country, the procedure would've been exactly the same as what I'd experienced, with the possible likelihood that the nurse, the woman at the front desk, and the five or six patients in the waiting area would've all been exposed to coronavirus. This didn't give me a lot of confidence that anything meaningful is being done to slow the spread of coronavirus in this country.
I'd given Nekos Pharmacy as my preferred one, but it turned out that they didn't have Mucinex DM. So I went to the newish CVS at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Schwenk Drive and got it there. I also hoped to get some rubber cement there so I could make the two halves of my printed-out insurance card stick to each other, but apparently rubber cement is no longer a thing. They didn't even have it at the Hurley Country Store, which had been a reliable refugium for all the old dangerous products (such as model glue) that the nanny state has successfully eliminated from the market.
Meanwhile Nancy had come by the house to drop off a replacement for our terrible old medical thermometer, which required you to hold its sharp metal probe uncomfortably beneath your tongue for one or two minutes (suppressing coughs the whole time!) in order to get a reading. The new thermometer was made by Braun and takes a reading from a probe designed to go in the ear. (I tried it in the mouth, nostril, and corner of the eye, and it doesn't work well in any of those locations.) Interestingly, it gives readings about 0.8 degrees warmer than the old conventional under-the-tongue probe, which may be due to differences in accuracy or where it is doing the measuring. (If that is consistently the case, then Gretchen's temperature that time I took her to the hospital in September of 2017 was actually closer to 105 than 104.)
Nancy had also gotten me a container of some sort of bean soup, and you know how I love bean soup. The soup had like ten different kinds of beans in it, and big chunks of tomato. It complex and savory in all the ways that I like, despite my fragile health. I think she got it at Adams'; this makes me want to go there more. It's practically on my way home from work.
The Mucinex DM seemed effective at reducing my cough down to a minor annoyance (as opposed to punctuation as regular as a paragraph mark). I was feeling so good that I cracked open one of those Stone Fear Movie Lions DIPAs, and drank it leisurely throughout the rest of the evening, ultimately watching some YouTube videos from Ben Heck and Doug Demuro. (I don't really care about cars, as you can tell by the fact that I drive a 2004 Subaru Legacy, but Doug Demuro is entertaining, and I like the knowledge he imparts about obscure models of usually-luxury cars.
Neville with me shortly before I left for EmergencyOne today. This photo and the one yesterday were taken with one of my Rasberry Pi surveillance robots.
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