Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm Angry

So I don't normally write more than one post in a day. I also don't write when I'm feeling sick, but this time I needed to write so that I could clear my mind and go to sleep.

I'm angry.

I went to the walk-in clinic today (see previous post) to try to get a throat culture, as my current symptoms are what I experience when I have a bacterial throat infection. I'm still running a low-grade fever and it feels like a knife is stabbing my throat when I swallow.

I chose this particular clinic because the online description said that it was equipped to diagnose for strep throat. Unfortunately, this claim is not entirely true. They are able to conduct the rapid strep test -- but not the true throat culture.

Of course, I didn't learn this little fact until after I had been checked in and paid my fee.

What's the difference? Well, thanks to my funky immune system, my body does not react to infections like most (read: textbook) cases.

When I have a bacterial throat infection, I do not run a high fever. In fact, there are times when my body temperature has remained normal despite confirmation of infection. My throat also does not always get white spots or streaks that are characteristic of bacterial infections, especially since getting my tonsillectomy (and, yes, you can still get strep throat after you've had a tonsillectomy). Additionally, my rapid strep test results have ALWAYS come back negative (that is, the test detected no trace of strep) even when it was later confirmed by throat culture that I did indeed have a bacterial infection.

That's why I need the full-blown throat culture when I have a very painful sore throat...just in case.

Now back to the point of my post of why I'm so angry. Here's why:
  • The lack of the throat culture made me feel duped; the clinic's website was misleading.
  • The healthcare worker I saw was not a doctor, and there was no doctor in sight. She was the only healthcare worker on call at the "clinic" (if you can really call it that).
  • When taking my health history, the healthcare worker did not understand that CFS can affect the immune system. As far as I could tell, she didn't really even know what CFS was other than something that makes people tired.
  • The healthcare worker did not believe me when I explained that my strep symptoms tend to be atypical. She merely told me that most sore throats in adults are caused by viruses. Well, duh.
  • When the healthcare worker looked at my throat she said that she could see nothing wrong and told me: "My throat is redder than your throat." Seriously?! This person is telling me that her throat is redder than my throat?! Is that supposed to make my throat suddenly feel better? (My throat is red, for the record, but we didn't bother doing the rapid strep test.)

It's the last point that was the spoiled icing on the awful-tasting cake. I paid money to hear about my not-a-real-doctor healthcare worker's throat and to feel belittled. I'm angry because this entire farce was a complete waste of my time and energy, and my time and energy are precious. I'm angry because the healthcare worker didn't believe me. I'm angry because it shouldn't be this difficult to find a doctor to get a throat culture. I'm angry at the state of our healthcare system. I'm also angry because I'm still sick and am no closer to a diagnosis. (This last sentence can be taken on a number of levels.)

This experience reminded me how far we still need to go to educate everyone in the healthcare field...but that's too big a topic to address here.

I still have a fever; my throat still hurts; my body is still achy. But I'm a little less upset now that I've had the chance to vent.

It's time for bed.


Jessica said...

Hey, Alyson. That really sucks that you got ripped off! Some people in the medical field are just unbelievable. I hope you can get a diagnosis soon and get some medication so you get to feeling better soon.

Belated Happy Anniversary! I'm so glad you have an understanding husband who sticks by you. How did you two meet?

Take care! I'll be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

Jozephine said...

We are so lucky in the UK that we can get healthcare free at the point of use. However, if I went to the doc with a sore throat I'd be unlikely to get a test for strep throat. He/she would have a look and prescribe anti b's if they thought it looked like it needed it. More likely to send me away with advice to rest and take fluids.

I agree it is very frustrating when people don't understand the idiosynchratic nature of our condition. It must be extra difficult when you have to 'shop' for a healthcare provider.

In the meantime (sorry to sound like your Mother) you must rest. I find gargling with tepid sage tea is good. Also half a clove of chopped garlic on a teaspoon. Place at the back of your tongue and swallow. It may not cure the strep throat but no one will come near you for days and you may get some peace and quiet.

All the best. x

alyson said...

Thanks for all the moral support!