Coffee heat rising

How Long to Wait before Calling the Doc?

Not goin’ anywhere…

This damn cold/flu/black plague/lung cancer/DEATH OF ME has gone on and on and on. I knew it would go on and on and on. If you get over a respiratory infection in, say, 10 days, it will take me two to three weeks to get over the same bug. That’s because my delicate little system lacks some part of its immune apparatus (according to a past doc), and so I just don’t recover from things the way normal people do.

But apparently I’ve overestimated how long I’ve been enjoying the current gasper. I thought we were in the middle of Week 7, and that next Sunday (by which time the thing, clearly, will NOT be gone) would be the start of Week 8.

No. No, however. Looked at the calendar and discovered that the day on which I came down with this thing — when I thought it was an allergy and so thought it would be OK to go to a Phoenix Chorale concert — was not seven weeks ago but only five.

So we’re actually in Week 5, not Week 7.

This means there’s hope. Typically a severe cold or flu lasts about six weeks for me.

Every evening as I’m choking and gagging and gasping for breath, I think tomorrow I’ve GOTTA call the doctor! But come morning, I’ve slept more or less through the night and I feel like I’m gonna live, until along about 2 p.m. when suddenly such a wave of exhaustion rolls over me that I can do nothing other than crawl into the sack. Literally, I’m not good for anything after about 1 or 1:30 p.m.

Yet…I am so All Doctored Out!

Just the thought of talking to another doctor makes me cringe. I do not want to see a doctor, I do not want to be treated by a doctor (nine times out of ten with drugs that make me sicker than the disease!), I do not even want to think about a doctor.

Am I crazy? Am I the only middle-class American who lives in fear of the avatars of the medical establishment? Is it normal to resist going to a doctor after you’ve been sick for five weeks?

Well, six weeks having proven itself a charm, I figure I’ll wait till a week from Friday (i.e., a week from tomorrow). If this thing isn’t almost gone by then, I guess I’ll be forced to call Young Dr. Kildare. Probably the scenic YDK over the Mayo, because he has common sense, that rarist of all qualities in a doctor.

How long do you wait before you call a doctor?

12 thoughts on “How Long to Wait before Calling the Doc?”

  1. Hope you get well soon Funny….DW has the same feeling toward Doctors. I have observed they are a little to quick to write script for prescription drugs that often mask the symptoms. Rather than direct their efforts to get at the cause once and for all. In addition going to the Dr. is time consuming…the prep…the drive there…filling out the forms…the exam….the consult…the inevitable script for meds… the visit to the pharmacy to pick up the meds….and then sometimes the referral to the “specialist”….and then it starts all over again…I can certainly see why you put off calling the Doc…

    • Yah…filling out the forms (over and over and over and over and over and…) has risen to the top level of the many annoyances and unpleasantnesses of visiting the doctor’s office.

      My concern with this bug is that if the doc speculates that it’s either bronchitis or asthma (the first highly likely, since I’ve had bronchitis twice before, and the second within reason), he’s going to want to prescribe prednisone.

      Prednisone makes the GERD kick up. There’s a direct connection. Give me prednisone, and you might as well write out another prescription, on the spot, for six month’s worth of high-test omeprazole.

      Omeprazale aggravates (possibly even causes) osteoporosis, which I already have and do not want to make worse.

      So I do NOT want to be put on either one of those drugs. Sometimes the “cure” is worse than the ailment.

      If I believed this was a life-threatening ailment — pneumonia, for example, or COPD — of course I would run straight to Young Dr. Kildare’s waiting arms. But I don’t, not sincerely anyway. I think it’s reasonable, since everyone else has complained of the Cold from Hell, that it’s just a particularly troublesome viral infection. I hope.

  2. In my salad days, I moved into a cockroach infested apartment. Although we kept it clean and food in check, we couldn’t keep them away (living the NYC dream on a poor woman’s salary!). I started to get a vicious cough that would not go away, and eventually kept me up at night. Turns out I was allergic to all that cockroach poop. The only thing that helped was codeine syrup (didn’t drive, used public transit so it was ok) and a weeks dose of Prednisone. I felt like super woman, taking those steroids! They did open up my airways so I could breathe, which helped cut down on the coughing, which then also cut down on the irritation, furthering the healing. I now know if I get that bad again, I will need the same treatment. Luckily, it hasn’t returned. Also, these are old drugs… Total generics so you know the doctor wasn’t encouraged to write a script for his friend the drug rep’s benefit. I run far away from doctors who I get the sense are in the pocket of drug reps!

    • LOL! I lived in one of those palaces (billed as a “luxury apartment”!) after my divorce. Came to think of the little guys as my roommates. They’d perform acrobatics off the kitchen cabinets: a little athlete would climb up on the cabinetry and then leap off, performing perfect cartwheels through the air until he landed on the countertop. Very…uhm…cute.

      Codeine is the ONLY cough medicine that does much good for me. Guaifenesen and dextramethorphan do exactly nothing. However, it’s very hard now to get a doctor to prescribe codeine — they’re afraid you’re going to pour it in a pitcher of KoolAid and have a party. Codeine knocks me into the next week and upsets my stomach, but it at least DOES calm an extreme cough enough that I can breathe.

      Prednisone does attack your symptoms. Its side effects are anything but benign, though:—oral/details/list-sideeffects

      Even the “less severe” reaction of “Conditions of Excess Stomach Acid Secretion” — which defines GERD — is no fun. It took TWO YEARS for me to get over the prednisone-generated GERD…not only was the drug dispensed to me the last time I had bronchitis, but they give you a hit of it every time you have surgery, by way of mitigating inflammation. I had six surgeries in a year. If a chronic stomach condition that requires you to take a drug that leads to bone loss and that may lead to esophageal cancer is “less severe,” I think I’d rather cough than enjoy any of the “severe” effects.

      The more I age, the more side effects I experience from drugs. Rx or over the counter, you can be sure whatever I stuff in my face or get injected into my body is going to do something weird to me. Some of these phenomena are very alarming — we now believe the episode in which I almost passed out while driving was probably a side effect of pseudoephedrine. I can no longer take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen because they all make my tongue and throat swell.

      That new reality — broad oversensitivity to drugs — is one of the main reason I want to stay away from doctors.

  3. DD2 … who lives in the West….may have the very flu you speak of. She’s generally pretty tough but she says this flu is a “doozy”. I think the thing that worries me most is that something that seems minor….the flu….winds up escalating into something worse without care. But on the other hand as you point out treatment may bring on a host of other complications. And before you know it your taking a handful of pills a day and feeling worse despite the effort and best of intentions.

    • Everyone I know who has had this thing has said it was one of the worst respiratory infections they’ve ever experienced. Personally, I’d put it among the top three — I’ve enjoyed one or two episodes that were worse.

    • Thanks for the good wishes. Actually, it’s Sunday morning now and the thing seems to be on the way out. Cough is almost gone, lhudly sing huzzah.

      Normal people get over colds in 10 days or two weeks…you must be among the “normal”…congratulations! 😀

      I, on the other hand, being a little freakish in every way, have from childhood been given to long, long, LONG bouts with respiratory bugs. As a little kid, I can remember my mother moaning, “You’re SO SUSCEPTIBLE to colds.”

      Probably if the air in the house hadn’t constantly been blue with tobacco smoke, the kid might not have been THAT “susceptible.” But whatever the cause, it remains a fact to this day.

  4. Back at the beginning of the year, I caught the bug you have. It took me a few weeks to begin feeling better, and the cough persisted for nearly 2 months. I’m lucky that I rarely get sick, and when I do, I usually bounce back quickly. This was a nasty bug.

    • That’s reassuring…well, not in a public health sorta way, but in a personal sorta way. 😉

      It looks like the thing is beginning to back off. I’m no longer drop-dead exhausted by 1 or 2 in the afternoon…yesterday managed to chug along pretty well all the way through until 10 p.m. So I guess that’s a sign that it’s about all over but the cough…

  5. I’m glad you are feeling stronger today and I hope you really have turned the corner with this thing. I also hate going to doctors but that’s mainly because of money issues and wanting to spend days off doing something more productive/pleasant.

  6. That’s a delicate balance for sure. Often I would wait a couple of weeks to see the doc, and be told that it was viral so just drink a lot of water and take Tylenol for the discomfort. But other times I’d be told, “Not pneumonia yet but heading that way, so take these drugs.” (On one occasion the doc blithely chirped, “We don’t want you to pull a Jim Henson!”)

    Then there was the time I visited Abby in our nation’s capital during an internship. Felt crummy all week, coughing and wheezing, but no fever. Then I got on the plane back home, and during the Minneapolis layover I suddenly felt very ill indeed. A flight attendant said, “Are you OK?” and I made the mistake of saying, “Having trouble catching my breath.” Well. That triggered an automatic call for an ambulance; it was very embarrassing being trundled through the airport on a stretcher. The E.R. doc gave me mucho medicines and cleared me the fly the next day. It was a pricey lesson, as I had to get a hotel room, but someone at the hospital called the airline and saved me the change fee.

    And more recently, we had Abby’s little issue at FinCon16. Minor bladder infection symptoms that she thought had disappeared went inward, and she wound up in the E.R. diagnosed with sepsis. Scary.

    To make a short story long — a tactic that came in really handy in college — I’d probably err on the side of caution and call the doc, again. Respiratory stuff is not a triflin’ matter.

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