What did the doctor say to me on Monday regarding my potential H1N1 flu? Here’s how it went down. My normal doctor couldn’t see me for another couple days, and i wanted to know if I had H1N1 now. It’s Monday and I got work to do. Am I deadly contagious? I set up an appointment to see another doctor I haven’t met. I go over to the doctor’s office to get my answer.
Maybe he’ll be nice
I’m sitting in the super tiny room examining the cute cell poster on the corner wall. The poster is clearly drawn by a child for a science fair project, but it’s also signed with the same name as this doctor. It’s probably a poster he made when he was in grade school! That’s neat. Maybe this doctor will be really nice.
The examination in the doorway
The doctor opens the door but stands in the doorway as he asks me several questions. “Have you been coughing and sneezing today? Do you have a fever today?” Both of which I answer, “no, not today.” Still standing in the doorway he looks perplexed and says, “We have these blue charts on the door to warn us when someone might have a virus, I’m going to go wear a mask and come in an examine you. This is only for precaution.” I told him, “Oh yeah, that’s cool, masks are fun. If you have any extra, I’ll wear one too–for double safety.” I totally thought the doctor was going to do the full examination with him standing in the hallway with the door cracked open.
The doc comes back wearing a mask, but none for me. I think he left too soon to hear me say that I wanted one. He fully enters the room this time and sits in a chair in the opposite corner of the room. His mask looks like it’s perfectly sealed onto his face. His eyes look very worried.
Seriously. I’m starting to think that I’m in an episode of 24, and I have the world’s most deadly virus and I’m going to die in 24 hours–even though I feel fine, this doc is starting to creep me out a bit. We run down the normal list of symptoms. Then asks me to take off my shirt and he’ll take my blood pressure. He does the standard leaving the room (to make the patient not feel like he’s in a strip show), but honestly I think he left so he could get a breather from an oxygen tank.
Turning his face away everytime I speak
I sit on the paper couch shirtless, and am getting a bit cold (the chills are one of the symptoms). The doc finally returns after a while. I think he covered his entire body in anti-virus cream. As he’s taking my blood pressure he has to get in closer, I start to tell some story and every time I speak he turns his head away! I mean, I understand he doesn’t want to catch it, but it just seemed so socially unusual.
The biohazard trash can
As he’s feeling my lungs as I deeply breath, I have to cough. He quickly hands me a tissue and I cough out a little loogie. He asks to see it, which is REALLY COOL. The fact that a someone–especially a doctor–wants to see my loogie. I dunno. It’s neat. After quickly glancing at it, he determined, “Oh, that looks ok.” Then I go to throw it away in the standard garbage can. OH NO! He told me to throw it away in the BIO-HAZARD MATERIAL TRASH CAN. I get a huge laugh out of this. Whoa! My tissues are so deadly contaminated, they have to go into a BIO HAZARD trash can. I gotta get me one of these! As I laugh, the doctor turns away his face.
Rivers flowing of hand sanitizer
Then he gets out the hand sanitizer. As much as I make fun of the doctor’s attention to catching the virus, he is truly doing a fantastic job. His role is to make sure this thing doesn’t spread. To that end, he’s fulfilling his role perfectly. It was just funny how it seemed extreme to me. Even with the the hand sanitizer. When he pumps it out into my hands, he pumped out SOOOOO MUCH. I mean SRSLY. I know I’m a guy, so I don’t use lotion all that much, but he really put so much sanitizer out, I could have done my hands and all of my arms! But hey, the man is being gracious. Very very gracious.
At the end of it all, he gives the diagnosis. He says I probably have the seasonal flu. All the symptoms point to that. But the H1N1 virus often acts like the seasonal flu, so I might have that too. He tells if I live by myself or with anyone. I tell him I live alone. He said that I should avoid all human contact at least through Wednesday. If I did live with someone, I think he would have told me those people would have to live elsewhere for the time.
The virus is contagious from 12 hours before the symptoms show up and up to 7 days after the first symptoms. So for me that’s Wednesday night. Today is Wednesday, so hopefully by tonight I’ll be over the contagious period.
I get to skip checking out
The doctor departs, and so I go to check out at the desk. But nobody comes. I stand there for a few minutes wondering if I should be checking out if I’m so highly deadly super contagious, and maybe that’s why nobody is coming to the desk. Eventually the doctor walks by–without a mask, how strange to see his mouth–and says nicely, “Matt, you can just go home.” So I did. And I would try to keep a 28-foot distance between me and and people on the way home. (That’s four arm-lengths, I walked around imagining four people with their arms out-stretched and tried to keep that distance).
The tricky part was the L ride home. I picked the car that had no babies and no elderly people. Thankfully the car was pretty empty.
Now where is my biohazard trash can?