As I mentioned last week, I was struck with the ear infection from hell. My husband recently started a new job--new career actually--and his company has a policy that his health insurance doesn't kick in until he's worked there for three months, so I was doing everything in my power to avoid going to the doctor.
Extreme pain in my right ear? Dr. Google told me that ear infections can be very painful but they'll clear up on their own. Couldn't hear? Dr. Google said that'd clear up too. I would tough it out. Later that night the pain became excruciating and blood and pus started pouring out of my ear. Dr. Google said my eardrum had almost certainly burst, but that heals on its own too. I wasn't going to spend a hundred bucks or more going to the doctor for something they couldn't do anything for anyway. But then my left ear started hurting too. "Fuck this noise," I literally said out loud. "I'm going to the doctor."
This was a Friday evening, so we got up early the next morning so I could be the first person in line at the CVS Minute Clinic. We waited about thirty minutes in the lobby until it opened, by which time there were five or six people waiting after me.
The nurse practitioner greeted me, and I decided to make friendly chit chat hoping that this would grease the wheels of our interaction. "So if you work on Saturdays does that mean you get some weekdays off?" Assuming she'd say yes I had planned to make a comment about how in a few days the weather was supposed to turn nice so at least she could enjoy it.
"Yeah, I do," she responded, "but it doesn't make up for it." Oops. I apparently opened a can of worms with that question. "People on Saturdays are always really angry," she continued. "They're mad they have to wait in line, but what else do they expect when they get here at eleven and there's already a line of people waiting when the clinic opens?"
"Yeah, that must be very frustrating. That's why I was sure to get here early."
She asked me about my symptoms and I told her about my ears. "Oh, and I'm not sure if this is relevant," I said, "but my pee's been brown lately. I've been trying to drink plenty of water, but you know."
"I could do a urine test," she said.
"I don't want to be a bother," I said, thinking that I didn't want her to waste any extra time with me knowing the people waiting might be mad. "It's probably from not drinking enough water."
"No problem," she said placidly, handing me a cup and directing me to the bathroom.
When I got back she looked into my left ear. "Ouch," she said.
"Yeah, and that's the good one." She looked into my right ear and confirmed that my eardrum had burst, or "perforated" as she used the less salty medical term.
She tested my urine and as it turned out, I had a urinary tract infection. I almost jumped up with glee. I'd been feeling sick for the past month--nauseous on and off, fatigued, just generally sick feeling--and I'd assumed it was a lupus flareup. Nope. It had probably been a latent kidney infection I hadn't realized I was having. There's nothing more exciting to a person with a chronic illness than finding out that their symptoms are curable with a round of antibiotics.
The nurse asked me some more questions and determined I was also having a yeast infection. She ultimately prescribed me two types of antibiotics (because the ear infection and the kidney infection wouldn't respond to the same type) and a prescription yeast infection medicine. I never felt rushed. If she hadn't asked all those questions or hadn't been so thorough, I never would've known I had a UTI and therefore I'd still be miserable, laid up much of the time thinking it was lupus.
I know people complain when they have to wait at a clinic, but I'd rather wait two hours and then get a doctor or nurse who's thorough rather than wait five minutes and be rushed through not getting the help I need. (Don't get me started on doctors who make you wait forever and still rush you, but that's another thing entirely.) The point of going to the doctor is getting to an appropriate diagnosis and then formulating a treatment plan. None of that is possible if the doctor doesn't take the time to listen to your symptoms. I wish more doctors understood that.
So thank you my local CVS Minute Clinic (and no, they are not paying me to say any of this). I have had so many uncomfortable and sometimes even traumatizing medical experiences, but this was one of my absolute best! You now have a loyal customer.