Saturday, June 16, 2012

Personal Health: ER Trip of a Family Doctor

Aching all over with nasal congestion and malaise (I love that word- like an acceptable separation between one and others due to illness, warning the affected one while promoting the protection of others, a precursor to infection partly brought on by heroic white blood cells bursting and spilling interferon into the blood stream. This gives muscle aches, fatigue, mental fog, droopy mood, desire to remove oneself from social engagement and is pretty helpful in diminishing contagion) I thought: "I'm getting an infection- respiratory and annoying." Not to worry.  It was late Friday afternoon, so soon I was home taking two acetaminophen, fluids,  two 81 mg. aspirin and resting in my recliner.  By Saturday noon I felt better.  Monday at 4 AM, I awoke a little shaky with a hint of cough, so I figured the Friday infection was continuing, but lower in the respiratory system.  Adding two acetaminophen to my usual load of vitamins and supplements, I seemed alright Monday but had the muscle aches and malaise on awaking Tuesday with a minimal cough.  Continuing the acetaminophen strategy, I went to my office where my body announced at 11:30 that the medicine had worn off but was still needed.  I took two and at 3 PM or so felt the "upgrade" of interferon effects come on very strongly.  I considered the respiratory system and looked at my right leg where I had cellulitis in 2009.  It was red from ankle to below the knee in the front and swollen.  I knew I had the cellulitis again caused by cracks in the dry skin of my foot.

I saw the last two patients and had my wife drive me to the ER since I had an admittable problem and needed professional help.  Since the cough was becoming intense, I knew that physicians would consider whether it was caused by a blood clot in the swollen, red leg or other sources.

My wife said words to the effect, "Why aren't we going to the ER in the new hospital right next door to our office?"  I answered that I am a member of the medical staff here and knew the doctors and staff in the ER where we are headed and I'm more confident in the care and caring there if admitted.  That's where we went for the kidney stones and found a neighborly, caring effective group of health care professionals in Dec. 2009 and New Year's Day, 2010.  They are like family.

In the parking lot, a general surgeon and friend saw me and walked in with me (the squad entrance since I'm on the staff, I know the code and I had called ahead to let them know I was coming- my doctor's office was closed and I knew what type tests had to be done and might be done which were needing an ER).  The ER staff directed me to a room where the surgeon glanced at the right leg and notified me of a need for vascular testing to rule out a blood clot (DVT) which I agreed with and she went to call the vascular lab which was closed for the weekend.  This means the cough has more significance since DVT can't be ruled out, the chance of a blood clot or clots to the lungs still has to be considered in the treating doctors differential diagnosis.

The ER doctor who was part of the team who treated me when I had my kidney stone, walked in after the nurse got my vital signs and into a gown which allowed better visualization of the legs, skin and other areas if indicated.  He asked a couple questions, listened to the story mentioned above politely, asked a couple more questions while he looked at the leg.  He quickly pronounced that in-patient care was the recommended way to care for this since the hot, red and pink rash now entirely circled the leg.  My friendly general surgeon agreed and echoed the criteria.  Both looked at me and I agreed, essentially to be admitted to the hospital with Cellulitis of the right lower extremity.

I was relieved.   I was in need of medical care and caring, especially nursing caring (which still exists, Thank God).   I could relax while an assembly line of phenomena were unrolling to help me, bill me and keep all involved safe and sustainable in the eyes of any and all authorities and certifying entities.  More later.


  1. Hi Dr S - I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. I know cellulitis can be quite serious, but didn't know one could get a blood clot from it. I'm curious to know if you had a PE.

    I am happy that you've been discharged and are feeling better. It's weird to think of a physician being ill ..but of course you are all just as human.

    I understand exactly how you felt in wanting to be in the hospital in which you trusted the care ..regardless of distance.

    I found your comment about nursing care, "which still exists, Thank God", to be both interesting and disturbing. Because if a doctor has that concern's a big deal. I know seems medical care is slowly being compromised with cuts, regulations, etc stealing staff away from patient care.

    Feel better and God Bless you Dr Synonymous.

    PS - You must've been feeling awful. last Oct I had gotten a scratch in my forearm that must've introduced something because by next day I had cellulitis of r lower leg - no openings in skin. I don't know if it could travel from arm and settle in leg ...but my skin was in tact on my lower extremities. I moisturize all the time. We girls tend to do that. :) Doc never said it ..but my forearm seemed swollen a bit too and so I really think that was the source. I was sent home with antibiotic script, but was so sick and weak that my husband had to get prescription. he said if didn't get better in a couple of days I would be admitted ..but I felt better by the 2nd day. However the time I got home from the office before antibiotics in my system ...I was sooooooo weak. I don't know how you carried on for so long and saw patients! Must be all that grueling medical training in your background. :)

  2. How wonderful for you that you were able to bypass the triage system to get immediate care.