My visit to the emergency room
After I finished work on Thursday, I got into my van and was seized with a fit of hacking coughs. I had been sanding a dresser top and initially attributed the problem to some sawdust I'd inhaled at the time (which may, indeed, be part of the problem I ended up with), even though the coughs seemed to persist through dinnertime.
Up the next morning and the congestion in my chest was still there. Uh-oh, something's up. A few months back, just before Easter, I went through a bout of respiratory ailment that hung on for over two weeks, and I didn't want to go through that again. When I'd gone to my physician a little while after that bout, my doctor told me "you should have come in...." So this time, I decided to take this advice and stop by after my morning appointment, before my first afternoon appointment, but things started to run late and my breathing seemed to improve, so I missed my opportunity.
Of course, the darn thing didn't go away, and this morning when things seemed, if anything worse, Pam and I ran the gauntlet of her HMO by phone, receiving an authorization to seek care today instead of waiting until Tuesday for my regular MD. I took myself over to the nearest participating emergency room at Valley Hospital and checked myself in for tests. They asked the usual questions and ran through the usual intake procedures and put me into a room. Where I waited, mainly, without my MP3 player (whose battery I had just changed, but was unfortunately dead). A respiratory tech administered a bronchodilator to me. Some time later, I was given a couple of tabs of steroidal antianflammatory. Then wheeled (whee!) over for chest X-rays. Another round of respiratory therapy, which possibly showed some sign of increased lung function.
Some four boring hours after I entered, actually in the middle of the second inhalation procedure, I was wheeled out into the corridor so they could use the room for someone in more urgent need. This patient had a whole family of worried-looking relatives in attendance. I had a spot next to the office where the nurses processed their paperwork and just across from another family who were even more impatient than I was about being processed and discharged (they had been there since 6am, it seems). As far as interesting surroundings go, it was a slight improvement from the little room, but I still found myself dozing off now and then despite the rather public setting.
A little after five hours into my stay, the doctor showed up again and said that the problem seemed as if it could be a touch of asthma, which I had once as a child, or it could be an early stage of pneumonia judging from the rale in my right posterior lung. He ordered up a third round of repiration therapy for me, right out there in the hallway, and after this was done he wrote out some prescriptions for me. I am supposed to get a lot of rest, drink fluids to help with expectoration, and check in with my regular doctor in a few days.
Total time was something like six hours. I didn't have too much paperwork to do at all and didn't have to present any sort of payment yet. Here's hoping that all the medication helps and that I can press forward with my plans to go off to the International Convention for Furniture Medic this week.