Thursday, April 30, 2009
The "A" Word
Remember last month's post on all the fun I've been having with my lungs? Well, today I met with an allergist. And, while the doctor's office was less than 10 miles from my job, the events of today merit the "travel diary treatment".
1:25 PM - It's five minutes until my scheduled appointment and I'm in the parking lot of the medical facility, sitting in my car. I'm listening to the A's/Rangers game on Sirius XM. Jason Giambi is up for Oakland with runners on in the top of the 7th. I want to listen to his at-bat before going in, but then the Rangers' catcher comes out to chat with the pitcher. Then, the pitching coach comes out after the catcher walks all the way back to home. More conferencing. The play-by-play guy reads a promo for Fireworks Night featuring "music selected by Nolan Ryan". I never realized how boring this game is.
1:40 PM - I'm greeted by a nurse named Cara. Now, I know you guys hate when I say things like this without photographic back-up, so I'll dial it back a bit and just say: Cara is kind of cute. Times 10. She takes my blood pressure and I register 155/85. That's a good 30 points higher than I've EVER registered in my life. "Nurse Out-of-my-League" asks if I'm tense. Pfft…as if a guy in his mid-30s could be affected in any way by an attractive 21-year-old woman holding his scrawny right arm.
1:45 PM - We move on to yet another spirometry exam. Can't get enough of those. The nurse instructs me to inhale deeply and then exhale rapidly for six seconds. Once again, I wheeze like the wind through the remains of Al Davis.
1:50 PM - The doctor finally joins us and it's becoming increasingly apparent that I've stumbled upon one of those porn movie medical facilities, where every single employee is female. Doc is also wearing three-inch heels and a skirt that's shorter than my wife. Jesus Christ, I'm here because I'm already having trouble breathing! Anyways, she hooks me up to a tube that fills my lungs with albuterol for 10 minutes.
2:00 PM - They had to pinch my nose closed for the albuterol inhalation and I was told not to remove my mouth from the plastic tubing. Consequently, when it was over, a portion of my nose and mouth might've been secreting…well, those watery things that noses and mouths secrete. Perfect time for a different nurse/Next Top Model to enter the room and assist me. "Ooh, did they tell you about the snot and drool?", she asked. No, they did not.
2:05 PM - ANOTHER spirometry. They're going for before/after readings and…well, damned if I'm not actually breathing a little easier.
2:15 PM - Dr. Legs returns, sits legs and legs over my paperwork. In all seriousness, though, she actually let me tell her the whole story of the past several months and listened intently while furiously scribbling notes. She shot down the credibility of every other doctor I'd seen and the "placebo prescriptions" (her words) they recommended.
2:20 PM - Her diagnosis: asthma – which three other doctors told me I didn't have. On the one hand, I'm still not entirely convinced that a healthy guy in his mid-30s can just "catch asthma", considering the perfect climate I live in and absolutely no recent change in my environmental stimuli. On the other hand, she mentioned some obscure asthma symptoms that I'd never heard before and most of which I have.
2:30 PM - The doctor prescribed two inhalers. The first is Symbicort which, the doctor disclosed, came with something called a "black box" warning. Well, that couldn't possibly be as ominous as it sounds, right? Turns out, in the drug's early studies, "…there was a small, but significant increase in asthma-related deaths in patients…" and "…analysis suggests the risk may be greater in African-American patients compared to Caucasians." Slightly less frightening was the Ventolin prescription or, as the doctor called it, my "panic inhaler".
Looks like I won't be lacking for blog fodder any time soon.