I have about had it up to here with the swine flu.
Not to sound callous or anything, but those two words are the quickest way imaginable lately to drive any medical professional up the Crazy River. The hype, the hysteria, the hypochondriacs with bacon on their breath. It's bad. It's really bad. And it's getting worse.
I'm a hypochondriac myself, sad to admit, but I've lost count of the people who have come in who are convinced they have the swine flu. One or two of them even have an applicable symptom. The rest of them have either been to Mexico lately, eaten in a Mexican restaurant or are able to find Mexico on a world map. One woman told me that she had been to Cancun on vacation (four months ago) and then had coughed a few times that morning. Well, hell. Call the ICU and save me a bed. After further questioning it came out that this gal was a two pack a day smoker and hadn't had a cough free day in twenty years. "Yeah," she said, "but it's the way I'm coughing."
Flu season sucks. Always. And, as many people have pointed out, thousands of people in the US alone die each year of the flu. Almost by definition the flu is respiratory, although people interchange it all the time with "the stomach flu". Well, technically the stomach flu is just a virus, a "bug", but the real flu can - and does - turn ugly fast. Last year was a brutal flu season, providing us with more "oh, my god" moments in the ER than I like to remember. Is this any worse? Not compared to some of the indelible images I have stuck in my head from last year. Not yet, anyway.
Then, to add insult to injury, is the never ending list of precautions and new standards we have to follow. The worst of these, in my opinion, is the goggles. We now have our very own pairs of special droplet resistant goggles that we have to wear in triage. So not only do I have to do all the triage crap I normally do, and deal with all the hypochondriacs that are pouring out of the woodwork, but now I have to do it in these horrible goggles that make me look like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Today, as first line providers, we all got shots to protect against secondary flu symptoms, and those damn shots have frozen up the deltoid muscles of every nurse from here to Puerta Vallarta. Even my Bugs Bunny bandaid doesn't help. Every time I reach up to adjust my Fly goggles my arm cramps up and refuses to move. Every patient who sits down in triage looks at the goggles and freaks. "Oh, my god, it's worse than you people are admitting to. Why else would you be wearing those?" Every time I look in the mirror I freak. "Oh, my god, when did I turn into Jeff Goldblum and how did my eyes get so BIG?" You just can't win.
One of our docs and I bravely marched to get our shots together. I offered to hold his hand if he was a fraidy cat. He suggested something else I could hold instead. I might possibly have called him a pig (among other things). I forget my exact words. This doc and I go round and round on a regular basis. Too bad for me that I adore him, but it's hard to believe he kisses his mother with that mouth.
Swine are definitely among us. Swine flu? I'm still not convinced.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM