Sign in with Google+ Sign in with LinkedIn
Staph infection

Waiting room - Lyme story

I was sitting in the crowded, stuffy waiting room, when the guy seated across the aisle started talking.

"I got a rash all over my chest," he said to no one in particular. "They gave me the wrong blood pressure medicine," he continued. "Can you believe that? I can't sleep, it itches so bad." He went on explaining the details of his story and the painful rash, eventually reaching up as if to unbutton his shirt to prove it. I buried my nose in my magazine. The man stopped, looked around to see if anyone was listening. No one was. He leaned toward me. "What's wrong with you?" he said. "You don't look sick."

My long skirt hid the white gauze bandages wrapped around both shins from ankle to knee. Beneath the gauze, the skin on my legs was hamburger from a mysterious rash that had been getting worse over the course of the past eight months. I'd been practically living on an alkaline diet, including lunches of delectable dandelion greens, and downing numerous turmeric capsules, since a holistic doctor had told me that I had eczema. I didn't drink, smoke, and I could count on one hand the times I'd taken antibiotics in my entire lifetime. I wasn't the type to get eczema, and that diagnosis had taken me by surprise. Even so, I religiously followed the doctor's suggestions. Still, I'd had no luck with the nasty rash. When the pain became so vicious that I could no longer even walk, my boyfriend drove me to the ER. Before walking into the waiting room, I'd spent the weekend on IV antibiotics. The ER docs informed us that I had almost died from a staph infection on the verge of going septic.

The man may not have noticed the cane leaning next to my purse. I smiled weakly. "I don't know," I shrugged. He narrowed his eyes, as if I was withholding something he deserved to know. Then he nodded and sat back.

My heart leaped at odd intervals, like a fish jumping in a shallow stream, making it hard to catch a deep breath. The one fan circulating in the room didn't do much to relieve the stuffiness. The dull headache I'd had for a week seemed worse under the florescent lights and the blaring TV high on the wall. An attendant in a green tunic appeared from the hallway and glanced at her clipboard. When she called my name, I stood and steadied myself with the cane and proceeded to walk as well as I could toward the hall. Vertigo gripped me, making me lose my balance. I almost bumped into the knees of the man with the rash. "M.S.," he muttered.

I stepped on the scale in the hall. The attendant adjusted it and recorded my weight. In the doctor's office, she took my blood pressure, handed me a hospital gown and left the room. I sat on the stainless steel table under the glare of the florescent lights, and waited again. So this is what public health care looks like, I thought. What was wrong with me? I had always been healthy, was always the one to choose carrot sticks over potato chips. On top of that, I was happily in love, and even starting a new business. In a million-zillion years, I never dreamed I'd be in this position. But here I was, in a small California coastal town, in the middle of my life, in such a weakened state that I could barely recognize the thoughts swimming through the thick fog that had descended in my brain.
Comments