On Saturday night I came down with a cold. I could feel it taking a hold of me while I was out to dinner with N & S. I felt yucky on Sunday, but only cold-yucky—nothing to really worry about. Yesterday I went to work, but I took yesterday afternoon off because I had two appointments. I went for my maternal serum screening (cross your fingers for no false positives this time!) and then I took BB for his flu shot.
That’s the background.
So yesterday afternoon, after both of our appointments were over with, I was sitting on the couch reading stories to BB. I had noticed throughout the day that I had a bit of a cough, but nothing too terrible. Suddenly, I’m coughing so hard that it feels like my lungs are going to fly out of my mouth. This went on for about half an hour, then I remembered that all of my office’s H1N1 fear propaganda mentions that one of the symptoms of the flu is sudden onset of acute respiratory illness. At this point, I decided to check my temperature to see if was over 38C. Low and behold it was.
As soon as DH returned home from work I called Telecare to see if I should be panicking. After a lengthy consultation, the nurse told me that I need to see a doctor within three hours as I am exhibiting symptoms of H1N1. What??!! She was supposed to tell me it was all in my head and I was listening to the CBC far too much! The nurse gave me the number of the clinic that is only six minutes from my house, and told me to call ahead in case they have any special protocol for bringing someone with these symptoms into the office so I wouldn’t infect the other patients.
I called the clinic and the lady who answered the phone sounded positively annoyed with me. She told me they don’t have any sort of a protocol for this situation, but asked if I have a face mask. Everything I’ve heard in the media says NOT to run out and buy face masks, because most people use them incorrectly and it gives them a false sense of security. So no, I didn’t have a face mask. After a big sigh, she told me to come in and go directly to the desk and they would find an isolated room to put me in.
When I arrived at the clinic, there was a young girl working at the desk. I didn’t want to come right out and say, “Hi, I’m the person who has the H1N1 symptoms!” That would have caused mass panic in the waiting room full of people! So I just said, “Hi, I’m the person who called a few minutes ago.” Luckily she was in the loop and said, “You’re the lady from The Settlement?” Ahhhhh! She understood my desire to not create panic and was on the same page! Sweet! She summoned the older lady that I had been talking to on the phone by saying, “This is the lady from The Settlement.” Sweet! The older lady acknowledged the fact that I had brought my own pen to sign in with and then whisked me away to my own room.
Once in the room, the nurse informed me with more than a trace of resentment in her voice that Telecare should NOT have sent me to their clinic. They cannot do the H1N1 swab there as it can only be done at the hospital. She also said that she spoke with the doctor to inform him that they needed to come up with some sort of protocol for when people like me do arrive at the clinic. Well, I’m sorry that I inconvenienced you ma’am, I’m just doing what I’ve been told to do in order to make sure that my baby and I will be okay.
After waiting a short while, ten minutes max, the doctor arrived. At first he seemed almost mocking. As if he was thinking, “Foolish lady, thinking you have the swine flu!” But the more we talked the nicer he became. I think he realized that I realize there’s a lot of hype around the whole thing and that I there because Telecare sent me there. After asking a bunch of questions, he told me he didn’t believe that I had H1N1, or even the flu. He told me to get lots of rest and fluids, and gave me a note for work to stay home for a few days, or until I’m feeling better. We had a nice chat and made fun of the media lots. He definitely brought down my anxiety level. Before leaving the house I was convinced I was going to be the next story on the news about a pregnant lady dying with the flu! I worried that it would be my last time seeing BB. My fears took over all of my common sense. And then I returned home about half an hour after I had originally left!
My office’s pandemic rules say that we can’t return to work until we’ve been fever free for over 24 hours. I still have my fever this morning, so I guess I’ll be home tomorrow as well.
The funny thing is that last week, I was totally craving a day off. A day to nap, relax, and just let go of everything. Apparently, I should have listened to my body.
And now for the important lesson you should take away from this story: If you need to see a doctor, tell them you have H1N1 symptoms, and then you can butt an entire waiting room full of people at the after hours clinic!