Friday, February 01, 2008

Double Dose of Dentists and Doctors

I have had a pretty sucky past two days, maybe the worst since I started medical school. Where to start....Ok, about a week ago, I began having a toothache. Normally, I get my dental care when I go home to visit my parents during breaks. I've been going to that same dentist for a long time, and I only have to go once every six months, so why go try to find someone new in Cleveland? But this was an emergency, because we don't have another break until March, and I didn't think I could last for a month. I checked my health insurance plan, and it turns out that we do have dental coverage through the Case dental school. They'll even do regular cleanings for us every six months, and it's all covered. I managed to get myself an emergency appointment for yesterday morning.

The Case dental school is a pretty impressive setup. They've got a bunch of huge clinics in there, and the upperclassmen dental students work on patients with their preceptors. I wasn't 100% thrilled about being worked on by a student, but it's not like I can really complain. I mean, my patients let me poke and prod them in clinic all the time, so I'm really not in a position to say that I don't want to be a learning experience for a dental student. Plus, my tooth was really hurting, and I think I'd have just about let someone use rusty pliers on me by that point.

The student I got was very nice and obviously was trying her best. But she was slow, slow, slow, and she didn't do a very good job with freezing my mouth. She basically froze everywhere except the gum by the tooth she was drilling. So I had no feeling in my tongue, lips, or face on that whole side, but boy, I sure felt her drilling me! There was no way I was going to let her remove all of her torture contraptions, reinject me, and start over again though, so I told her to just keep going as fast as she could, and I'd do my best not to jump. I was pretty white-knuckled and had tears streaming out of my eyes, but we got through the drilling and she filled the tooth. So three hours later, the problem was solved, even if it wasn't the most pleasant experience during the actual procedure. (It took three hours because every time she did something, she had to get one of her preceptors to come take a look before she went on to the next part of the procedure. We also had to repeat the x-rays because the first set she got weren't right.) After that, I went home to chill a little.

I had woken up yesterday morning with a sore throat, but it was starting to get worse by last night. Then I started running a 102 degree temperature and coughing up a storm. So I emailed my learning objective to my PBL group and let them all know that I wouldn't be coming in today. I almost never stay home from school, and this is the first time I've ever missed a PBL session except for when I was away at that conference last fall. I didn't want to miss school today, but it turned out to be good that I did, because this morning I started vomiting too. In the afternoon, I got one of my classmates to drive me over to school, and I went to get checked by one of the docs in the clinic where I work on Tuesdays. My preceptor wasn't in today, but one of the other docs was. She told me that I probably had the flu. What!!! That is SO unfair! I got a vaccination last fall, and I still got the flu! It's actually possible for that to happen though, because the flu vaccine manufacturers have to guess which strains are going to be prevalent based on last year's strains, and sometimes they guess wrong. Lucky me.

On the bright side, the doc prescribed codeine to control my cough. I was a little nervous about taking it at first, because I still felt pretty nauseated, and nausea and vomiting are two side effects of narcotics. So I tried taking a half-dose, and it worked pretty well. I think I'll probably be ok with taking a full dose. Codeine is a highly effective cough suppressant. I was able to fall asleep for a few hours earlier this evening without hacking up half a lung. I still can't talk though without going into a coughing spasm, even with the codeine.

After the doc gave me the prescription, I went to get the codeine at one of the Cleveland Clinic pharmacies. While I was waiting for the pharmacists to make it up for me, I was sitting in a chair next to a large candy display. What a racket. I bet they sell way more candy than drugs in there. Every, and I do mean EVERY, kid who walked into that pharmacy with their parent made a beeline for that candy rack. It didn't matter if the kid was a toddler or a teenager. The same scenario then played out over and over again. First, the kid would ask for candy. The parent would say no. Then the kid would ask again, grab some candy, take it up to the line with the parent waiting. Nearly every parent eventually gave in and bought the candy for the kid after saying no multiple times. One guy who was there with his young son was the only parent who didn't cave in, not counting a second guy who carried his kicking, screaming daughter out of the pharmacy after refusing to buy her a piece of candy. All I could think was that if I had behaved like one of those kids, my parents sure wouldn't have rewarded me for being disobedient by buying me a piece of candy!

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