Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Not Malingering

Yesterday morning, I poked at a small swollen spot inside my mouth, near the back, and it hurt more after poking so I left it alone. It kept hurting through the day, spreading to give me a weirdly localized sore throat on the left side. I spent the middle of the day on a plane, returning home from Seattle, and was exhausted when I got home. I put the exhaustion down to not getting enough sleep while I'd been away, which I hadn't, but the sore spot was still bothering me. I asked Google about it, and Google helpfully told me it wasn't a cold sore (those are on the lips and outside of the mouth, and this was inside near the back). Maybe a canker sore? It didn't sound serious. I took some ibuprofen, napped for a couple hours, and went to bed on time.

This morning, I woke still tired and still with a sore throat. No other problems, really, but I decided to call in and get some more sleep anyway. I woke again at 11AM and felt like crap, but after a couple of hours was back to "annoying sore spot inside throat." Around 2:30, I probed at the spot again. Hmm ... that's not on the cheek or behind the molar like I thought, that's ... on my tonsil. Which is swollen now. Hmmm.

I dug out a flashlight and shone it in my mouth to look in the mirror. My left tonsil was swollen and had a really ugly looking grey spot in the middle of it. Yikes. OK, no more waiting and hoping it'll go away. I need to get to a doctor.

I called my primary care physician: "We don't have any appointments until mid September. Go to an emergency room."

I called my insurance company: "Yes, you should go to an emergency room. Oh, you can go to an urgent care center instead."

"What's an urgent care center?"

"... it's like an emergency room but cheaper."

So the insurance company gave me addresses for three different urgent care centers.

I called about seven different people at work before someone was finally at her desk to answer, to see if anyone would give me a ride to one of the centers, figuring I could get a lift there and have Lut pick me up afterwards, since I'd doubtless be waiting a while. My co-worker couldn't do it, but said she'd ask around and have someone call me back.

While I waited for the call back, I called the urgent care centers to make sure there wasn't anything special i needed to know before going.

#1: "We don't have an urgent care center."
#2: "We don't have an urgent care center here, but our affiliate does. I'll transfer you."
#2a: "Yes, we have an urgent care center. They're open 7AM to 10AM."
#3: "We don't have an urgent care center here, but our affiliate does. I'll transfer you."
#3a: "I don't know the urgent care center's hours. Let me transfer you."
#3b (after hold music for 10 minutes): "We're open 7AM-3PM."

Around here, one of my co-workers called me back. "I think I'm just gonna go to an emergency room," I told her.

"Okay. Just let me punch out and get my things. I'll be there in a few minutes."

While I waited, I checked my insurance company's website. The website didn't list any of #s 1, 2 or 3 as urgent care centers, but they did have #4, a Take Care Health Clinic. I called them. They were open 8-7:30PM, closer than #s 1-3, and took only walk-ins. Good enough.

So my co-worker dropped me off at the clinic, which was located conveniently inside a Walgreen's drugstore. After about 20 minutes, a nurse saw me, asked a bunch of questions, ran a strep test (which gave results in minutes, rather than the send-it-to-the-lab-we'll-tell-you-tomorrow test I had the last time I was tested for strep) and told me I had very early stages strep. And I had to wait for the nurse practitioner to see me next. "She's got another patient and two physicals ahead of you, so it'll probably be another hour."

A little less than an hour later, the nurse practitioner, Katie, saw me. Katie took my blood pressure, asked a different bunch of questions, looked in my ears, listened to my lungs and heartbeat, and looked at my throat. "Ohhhh yeah, you've got strep." She prescribed an antibiotic, recommended various over-the-counter remedies to manage the symptoms, enjoined me strictly to take all the antibiotics, and nagged me to get a pap smear and a physical from my doctor. "You don't want to get a physical from us. It's just a sports physical, you need a well-woman physical." I thanked her -- the nagging was endearing, actually, and I really needed someone to nag me because I haven't had a real physical in ages. She also gave me a doctor's note for tomorrow, because I'm offcially still contagious until I've been on the antibiotic for 24 hours. The overall experience was quite good by health-care standards; it didn't take that much longer than a typical doctor's visit even when I've got an appointment, the people were pleasant and professional, and the co-pay wasn't much higher than a PCP visit.

So ... um ... guess I was sick after all. I'm really not good at judging these things. v.v
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