Saturday, December 5, 2020

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

I had a very sick kid here on the night before the last day of the last quadmester. My little one felt shaky and dizzy and came downstairs to get the pulse oximeter because they felt so faint. They promptly barfed in the kitchen sink. Of course it was full of dishes. After they slumped to the floor, I gave them a bowl to clutch and slid them away from the cupboards. Then I donned PPE and cleaned the sink and dishes and everything with bleach. 

They actually had to crawl on hands and knees to get back upstairs. I carried their bowl.

Of course, I didn't want to step foot inside emerge only to sit there all night, so I call our doctor, knowing they have a doctor on call. Then called that on-call number only to be told to call Telehealth. So I called Telehealth, and, after only 15 minutes of choosing options, I actually got a human being!! But it was just a receptionist. He took my info and said a medical professional would return my call in approximately 4-5 hours. 

By now it's midnight. I checked on my kid, who had barfed again. I cleaned them up, set up two clean bowls on the floor, and put the usual accoutrements on the bedside table: water, crackers, thermometer, and, a vital 2020 addition, the pulse oximeter. Then I tried to get some sleep before the phone call. 

Morning came, but the phone call didn't. 

My kid was still in a bad way. 

I opted to go to work as soon as the doors opened to card in and to get my work laptop and then sneak back out to work from home, which, at the time, was strictly forbidden for online teachers for absolutely no reason beyond, perhaps, a fear of a public perception of lazy teachers sitting at home all day eating bonbons. (Check out my workspace way back here.) I had to go through a review of the course with my students before their final exam that afternoon. No supply teacher could do it justice. And the last time I called in a supply, and then fielded all the student questions from home anyway, other teachers complained that she just wandered around the school, bored and trying to start up conversations with people trying to work. To avoid that irritation, I just didn't call in sick. It's ridiculous how afraid I am of getting caught working from home!!! I'm so pleased that this rule has since changed to allow online only teachers to work from home. Finally, something makes sense.

On my short walk to work, at 6:55 am, the phone call came. I was pinned in place on the sidewalk by a transport truck backing out of a driveway, which made hearing the call impossible. I told them to wait a minute for the truck to leave, and THEY HUNG UP!! Close to tears from exasperation, I pulled off my in-school subterfuge, and, on my way home, took a quieter route to push all the necessary Telehealth buttons in hopes of reaching a person again by the time I got home. This time they said it would just be a 10-15 minute wait. I was still at the top of the queue since they give each call three chances to connect. 

It took another hour and a half. 

Of course the phone rang just as I was starting my class at 8:30, but my kid was awake enough that I could get them to describe their own symptoms. 

Eight and a half hours to reach a doctor by phone who then arranged for our own doctor - whose office would open soon - to call us at 3pm that day. We could have just slept through the night and called our doctor in the morning. Lesson learned.

The doctor I had since being a teenager just retired last summer. None of us have met the replacement doctor yet, so when she actually said that the problem is my kid's ear CRYSTALS ARE OUT OF ALIGNMENT, I had had just about enough of the medical profession. It sounds like crazy talk, right?, but it's real

Who knew!


The Disaffected Lib said...

I never heard of the crystal business before. Sounds a bit New Age. The inner ear, however, is a strangely powerful apparatus. In flight school we were taught about hair-like structures called cilia that responded to acceleration forces such as rotation or pulling Gs. Like everything else in the body they've evolved for normal 1G conditions. Go beyond that and they get confused. That has caused pilots flying through cloud to imagine they're banking to the right or left when they're actually banking in the other direction. Your mind can tell you to add counter-input which can eventually bring you into a spin and an abrupt encounter with terra firma. They have devices that can replicate this. They demonstrate that you must always trust your instruments over your senses when flying in cloud or at night.

So, yeah, this inner ear stuff is quite real. As kids we spin around until we reach a state of dizziness. That's the cilia at work. Crystals? The medical literature is persuasive. I can't imagine they're making this up.

Marie Snyder said...

It's an absolutely real thing; it's just sounds new agey! Unfortunately prognosis is uncertain. Some people get better, and others have vertigo forever. It looks promising so far, though. This was a couple weeks ago, and they're less dizzy on a regular basis (but still sometimes dizzy).