Boundaries, Get Some

Yesterday morning, mom’s nurse came by. My mom updated her on my strep and the Keflex allergy. This time the nurse didn’t suggest that I should try colloidal silver, but she did say a lot of stuff about how medicine is bad and that it causes more problems than it helps.1

Anyway, this visit she focused on the blood tests that were ordered. I made the mistake of saying an RPR had been included in my lab work. She didn’t know what that was, so I explained that it was a test used to find syphilis. She then asked if I had been having sex. That is not something that I really want to talk to her about. It really isn’t her business. I can’t really stop my mom from over-sharing about my health.2 I could have kept from mentioning the test when she asked, but I was trying to be nice and just kept answering whatever questions she had. But I didn’t like telling her.

I disliked her asking more, not only because it isn’t her business and she isn’t my nurse–my issue with answering is that it doesn’t matter if I did or didn’t. The infectious disease specialist, whose business it could be, didn’t ask about my sex life. She ordered the test because the symptoms could fit syphilis. They could fit a lot of things, including infections that aren’t transmitted sexually, cancers and autoimmune disorders.3 And the tests help rule those issues out. And the tests aren’t even 100% foolproof. Obviously when I’ve had inconsistent strep test results recently, as well as positive skin tests in the past on things like tuberculosis45 or the saline6 control test for allergy tests, it’s quite clear that a positive test doesn’t always mean the worst. So I’m not freaking out about the possibility that I could have an STD because I’m pretty damn sure that I don’t.

Having her ask that really frustrated me, but I guess that until I explain that I’m uncomfortable with her being so interested in my health, it really doesn’t do any good for me to be upset with her. Until then, I’ve just got to smile and nod and be polite. I may scream the next time she tells me to gargle with salt water, though.

  1. Oddly, one of the legit medical uses of silver is silver sulfadiazine. That is classified as a sulfa drug–a classification which also includes Septra, to which I am allergic. 

  2. I’ve tried. She doesn’t respect that request. 

  3. aka things that don’t happen when you smush your naked body against someone else’s naked body 

  4. Every time they test me. And that makes sense because the CDC fact sheet on test says, “Once you have a positive TB skin test you will always have a positive TB skin test, even if you complete treatment. Ask your doctor for a written record of your positive skin test result. This will be helpful if you are asked to have another TB skin test in the future.” 

  5. I had to have the first one done before my parents could be approved by the state for foster kids. I’ve never had TB. I’m just an odd duck who reacts to the skin test. 

  6. I inherited a salt sensitivity from my father. My skin can break out it rashes or hives when exposed to too much. My mouth can break out in ulcers. 

Anaphylaxis and You

I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t nervous about taking the Keflex the Infectious Disease specialist prescribed. I was. I think everyone was, including the doctor. It’s only natural when you have multiple drug allergies1 to be cautious with this sort of thing. 

I started joking about how I was noticing red splotches pop up within a few hours every time I took it. I was, but gingers and anxiety patients can sometimes end up with rashes and hives for little or no reason. So I just kept an eye on them and tried not to worry. 

Until last night. 

Last night, about 60-120 minutes after taking the Keflex, I noticed my throat was itching and that I could actually feel my uvula. I thought that I was probably just being nutso. Even when I realized breathing was starting to get especially hard–and I’d used my rescue inhaler. Even when I noticed that my lips were slightly puffy last night. Even when all of those things lessened after using Benadryl. 

You know how people have suggested in the past that I might be a hypochondriac or have another sort of factitious disorder? I always understood that sort of thinking because I tend to think my problems are no big deal–if it’s “physical”, I think it’s in my head; if it’s “mental”, I think I’m just being ridiculous.2 

Anyway, I figured that maybe I really was nuts and that I should just ignore it. 

This morning I took the Keflex again. About the same length of time passed before I noticed the same symptoms popping up. This time I casually mentioned it to my mom.3 She didn’t take long to call the ID to find out what we should do. The doctor’s office called back. I was to immediately discontinue the Keflex. If the swelling got worse, I was to report to the ER. She was going to figure out what to do next. She apparently didn’t figure it out today. 

So, yay. I have now flummoxed an infectious disease specialist. I am a statistical anomaly in the medical profession.45 It’s so fun being a freak for the medical community. I just love being the person whose charts allow them to learn all about weird shit. I love how it leads to unnecessary tests and stress. It’s just so fun.6

Now I wait for an absolution that will never come.7 

  1. including two related to Keflex 

  2. Discounting one’s own suffering & health issues can actually be a sign of things like PTSD. 

  3. Imagine casually mentioning to another person that you were showing signs of anaphylaxis. 

  4. Even when allergic to other cephalosporins or penicillins, at least 90% of people can still take Keflex. Those who can’t aren’t usually allergic to most other antibiotics. 

  5. The rapid strep test & culture from last week coming back positive and negative is another example of my anomaly-ness. Of all the people who have inconsistent rapid test/throat culture results, only three in one study had results like mine. And there is no known reason why that sort of thing happened. 

  6. If you can’t detect the sarcasm, I’m sorry. 

  7. It’s a Titanic reference, dude. 

Review: While It Lasts

While It Lasts (Sea Breeze, #3)While It Lasts by Abbi Glines
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As I mentioned in my reviews for Breathe and Because of Low, I had been boycotting books by this author until recently. I hoped that maybe I had unfairly judged Abbi Glines and her books. I figured out with Breathe that I wasn’t wrong. And I figured out that Because of Low followed the same pattern of book badness. Still, I thought that maybe I hated Because of Low so much because it featured a more misogynistic male lead. I thought that maybe womanizing Cage would be a bit more compassionate and less of a hate-filled horror show.

I was wrong.

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think that fully covers it. This book inspired me to re-define insanity:

Insanity, n.: reading book after book by a particular author and expecting to make it through one without some level of degrading comments toward a particular gender, biological sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, level of ability, class, etc.

In other words, this book is so degrading toward women that I seriously started to worry about all the hate being shared. What if this sort of writing inspires more internalized misogyny? How does that help anyone? There is some serious hate going on toward Eva and all female characters. For example, the continued usage of the term “female” or “females” to degrade any woman in the book. It is used specifically and generally. No similar usage of “male” or “males” exists. What’s so bad about “female”/”females”? It’s a scientific term that reduces an organism down to sex. It dehumanizes women by classifying them only by their reproductive organs, it excludes the trans community and those who are not biologically female, and is used solely as a way to speak negatively about one or more female characters. There’s also the grammatical faux pas of using female as a noun; it’s an adjective. That’s why it is 100% cool for me to say “female characters” and 0% okay for a writer to say things like “with the females”–which was actually used in this particular novel.

Cage, who I semi-respected in Because of Low, is a misogynist in this book. He makes his first ignorant observation on the tenth page because she doesn’t respond positively to his flirting. I don’t know why this kind of behavior is presented as acceptable for a male love interest to exhibit, but it really isn’t. If a guy treats you like crap in the real world, get away from him. He’s a bad dude. And if he hangs out with a group of extreme misogynists and does not call them out on it, get away from him. Quickly. This sort of thing isn’t sexy behavior. He doesn’t respect you, he hates you.

Eva was okay. She was a bit judgmental towards all other women her age. Her cruelty toward her female friends was appalling–even in the instances where it was exhibited solely through the narration.

There was very little respect for her personal issues that resulted from the loss of her ex-fiancé. Her grieving and behavior was presented like most of the other mental health issues that Glines tackles: like it’s a character flaw. That still bothers me. And it should bother others. Any writer who suggests things like depression, grief, anxiety, trauma, suicide, drug use, alcoholism, etc. are simply signs of personal weakness is promoting ignorance and stigma. That makes struggling with these issues harder on the real patients who have them.

I did have a least favorite minor character. Eva’s ex-fiancé’s mother, who is also the mother of Eva’s best friend, was condescending and I could not sympathize with this woman. She is so self-serving. She tears the relationship between Eva and Cage apart, which I would have supported if it had been based on legitimate factors–not Cage being poor and having a DUI. (Poor-shaming behavior is another thing I’ve come to expect in these books.) It strained not only Eva and Cage’s relationship, but the relationships that Eva has with other individuals.

The writing in the book is horrible. Aside from the continued grammatical issues and the choice of uneducated rural phrasing, there are fact issues in this book that I would think an NCAA fan would have picked up on; especially one who is an SEC sports fan. The premise of the story is that Cage is on Eva’s dad’s farm as punishment from being picked up on a DUI. Who bailed him out? His baseball coach. A baseball coach, a booster, or any individual associated with the university cannot give money to a player, nor can they use their money on behalf of a player. Doing so would lead to an NCAA investigation and could lead to fines, loss of eligibility, a coach being terminated, and other not-so-great things. This flaw in the premise lowers the overall quality of the book. And, as you can probably tell, the quality was not high to begin with.

Another issue with the book is that there is a lack of depth to the story. You have a bad boy who seems like he can’t hurt a fly and a good girl who is sexually and emotionally inept. In other words, you have the same exact two leads that you’ve had for the previous books in this series. Reinventing the wheel is pretty lazy. The shallowness of the story, as well as it’s predictability, makes it so freaking boring that I was often looking for things to distract me from reading. Readers should be headed toward a book to ease boredom, not headed away from it.

I’m confused about why the Sea Breeze books are classified as Young Adult. They are quite sexually explicit. They’re very descriptive of anything and everything sexual in nature. They also promote some mistaken beliefs about female sexuality: (1.) that the first time always has to hurt, (2.) that every guy can tell when the woman that they are dating is a virgin or not, and (3.) that a virginal woman is 100% naïve about sex, orgasms, etc. It’s not realistic. At all. Another reason they aren’t fit for YA: binge drinking. The characters in the book have a tendency to binge drink when stressed, including underage characters.

I’m sure that some people will enjoy this book, but I really think that if you’ve had a problem with any book by this author that you’re better off just avoiding this book.

View all my reviews

Not Dead Yet

I went to see the Infectious Disease specialist today. I told her about the month of strep throat and the two months of fever. She was more concerned about the fever; she said strep could sometimes take two or three months to go away. She’s prescribed Keflex 500mg two times a day, which is related to two of my drug allergies.1 I have to take it for a month, unless it kills me before then.2

The ID doc also ordered lab tests. One was a blood culture,3 which required two bottles4 per arm. The other tests were rapid plasma reagin (RPR)5; a “sed rate”, which is short for erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)6, Immunoglobulins A, G, & M (IgG)7, CD4 and CD8 tests8, HIV (types 1 and 2), complete metabolic panel (CMP), C-reactive protein (CRP)9, and a complete blood count. Luckily, the person who drew my blood today hit it right off on both sticks. I’m a little flustered by all of the STD tests, but since the doctor doesn’t know me or my sexual history, and the tests seem to cover more than just the STD it’s usually used to diagnose, I’m not upset by them.

While I wait around for the test results, I get to maintain a fever diary. I have to measure my temperature randomly once a day and record it to see what my temperature is doing throughout the day. I have an appointment to go back next month to see if I’m getting better and to report the findings of the fever diary. Fun stuff, right?

I still haven’t heard back from the throat culture test yet. I’ve also noticed that the negative result on the the second rapid strep test has been removed. Its date and result have been changed, which seems quite sketchy to me. The summary report from that appointment have also been altered. Again, this seems sketchy. I wonder if they’re trying to cover their asses or what. I think I’m actually more worried about my chart being altered than I am about waiting on the blood test results.10

  1. Ceclor and Penicillin 

  2. If I have a reaction, I’m supposed to go to the hospital and to let her know. 

  3. Blood cultures are used to detect the presence of bacteria or fungi in the blood, to identify the type present, and to guide treatment. It can also identify septicemia/sepsis. 

  4. one for anaerobic bacteria and one for aerobic bacteria 

  5. It’s a syphillis screening test, but a positive result can occur with Lyme disease, pneumonia, malaria, pregnancy, lupus, other autoimmune disorders, tuberculosis, or IV drug use. 

  6. It monitors inflammation and can be used to diagnose various autoimmune disorders. Accuracy can be impacted by anemia, pregnancy, high cholesterol, and kidney problems. 

  7. IgA, IgG, and IgM are types of antibodies. Levels can be used to diagnose autoimmune hepatitis and immunity status on diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella. They can also determine if you’re immune deficient or have an infection, autoimmune disorders, cirrhosis, chronic inflammation, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, nephrotic syndrome, protein-losing enteropathy, kidney failure, diabetes, and some fairly rare illnesses. 

  8. They are most often used to monitor HIV. They can also be used to diagnose lymphoma and blood cancers. Levels can be off in people with Sjögren’s, vitiligo, type I diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases. 

  9. It measures inflammation levels; and it can indicate an infection or an autoimmune disorder. 

  10. I have the notifications set so that I get an email every time that something in my chart changes. Oddly, I didn’t get an email when it was changed. 

Positively Yours

In two emails1 through my personal health record, I expressed my frustration over the poor care and the lack of orders/referral at the office this afternoon.

I was in yesterday (April 7, 2015) with a sore throat. A rapid strep test was ordered and was positive. I was prescribed the antibiotic Zithromax, which I’m allergic to, and I didn’t learn which drug it was until I got to the pharmacy. It was after 5 by then. At almost 7 last night, I received a call from a different doctor at the clinic saying that I needed to come in this morning for orders for a throat culture that I would have done at the Lab downstairs, and for a referral to an infectious disease specialist.

When I got to the clinic this morning, the referral hadn’t been done and order that was done was for a test that LabCorp apparently doesn’t perform. They told me that a doctor or nurse would have to perform it. When I went back up to the clinic, the power glitch had knocked out the server so the receptionists took my name, date of birth, and phone number and said that I would be called. No call has happened.

I would like to know when my orders and my referral will be ready.

I’ve had 2 positive strep tests and one negative one since March 13, continuous symptoms of strep, and one round of clindamycin, which is the only medicine for strep that I can take. I have seen four doctors and three have said that it wasn’t strep, including Dr. Shaw yesterday.

I think I’ve been patient, but my patience is really running thin. I feel horrible. I feel like I’m on fire most of the time. My skin has broken out in a rash. I am so exhausted that just making my breakfast is enough to make me go back to bed for two or three hours. I can’t exercise. I can’t go out. I just get to sit around and hope that the ice and tylenol will do something while I wait for orders and a referral that probably should have been ordered weeks ago. Please help me out.

I really wish that someone there would take this more seriously. I know that they have a lot of other patients, but, like I told the attending, I think I’ve been patient enough.

I know that the power going out and the server going down today wasn’t their fault, but the information wasn’t there before the power and server issues. And the receptionists were like, “Oh well. It’s not here.”2 I wanted to scream, but that would hurt too much. I wanted to offer to stay until they figured it out, but they indicated that that wasn’t an option. But I knew that if I left, I would be ignored or forgotten or put on the bottom of the pile, whatever you want to call the dismissive behavior they typically have.

  1. They only allow messages to be 1000 characters long. I tend to be wordy. 

  2. Really awesome level of compassion guys. 

Are You Positive?

Remember how I had strep, then took the clindamycin, and was told I no longer had strep? Well, guess what’s back! If you guessed strep, you’d be right. If you didn’t, then I’m concerned because that should have been obvious.

I went to the family doctor today. It was a resident that I hadn’t met before. The nurse had run a strep test, which was a good thing because without it, the resident would not have believed I might still have strep. Actually, she still didn’t believe I had strep. She believed I had to be a carrier of strep and not actually infected.1 She persisted in this belief after examining my throat, noticing that my tonsils were enlarged again, noticing other glands were swollen, and noticing that there was pus in my throat. On the pus part, she suggested that that was a result of my sinuses draining down the back of my throat. I may not be a doctor, but a positive strep test + symptoms of strep + physical evidence that suggests the likelihood of strep means that a person probably has strep. But she persisted. Apparently, the idea that a round of antibiotics couldn’t kill off this weak little bug was just too hard for her to imagine. Like I said about DK’s disbelief over the same thing, it’s not all that obscure to have someone with a strep complication. Obviously, it also isn’t that obscure to have a doctor believe that that bug is super easy to kick.

Her solution was to prescribe an antibiotic and Claritin-D. She said it was a different antibiotic, but she didn’t say which one. I wondered if I had missed one when I looked it up, so I didn’t ask. That was a big mistake on my part. I told my dad that I had a feeling whatever she picked would be something I was allergic to.

I was right.


She picked Zithromax.

I’ve been allergic to it since I was in high school.

The pharmacy red-flagged it. The tech called my mom to make sure that I was still allergic. The pharmacy tech called the office back and said that I was definitely still allergic to it. So the resident’s supervisor told the tech that he would start researching to find something to treat it with. He also told her to tell me that I may have to come back tomorrow morning for another treatment.

The resident’s boss just called as I was writing this. There is no other treatment that they can attempt from that office. They are going to order a throat culture for me and they’re referring me to an infectious disease specialist. The boss dude also told me that I might have to go in for hospitalization while they wait on the culture or after they get the results back. He did not sound very enthusiastic.2 I feel really bad for him.

I sort of feel bad for the resident. I know things must of have gotten harder on her after they figured out about the allergy. The other residents who’ve seen me since the first appointment might not be having a good time either. Of course, I also feel like their temporary bad time is nothing like my having been sick for the last month. I think mine probably sucks a wee bit more.

  1. Strep carriers generally end up being asymptomatic, which I’m not. 

  2. Not that I’m looking forward to that outcome.