Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hack Hack Wheeze

This post contains mentions of bodily fluids and functions that some people might prefer not to think about. Consider yourself warned:

It's always so clear to see in retrospect.

The sniffling, sneezing, and cough that I had been suffering for the past six weeks were not, in fact, the onset of allergies gone wrong (more on that later), but, as last night plainly and clearly showed, a case of Bordatella pertussis, better known by its common name, whooping cough.

"But only kids get that!" Of course, that's what I thought, too, when the diagnosis was offhandedly suggested by Karel. But the vomiting at the end of a bout of coughing a few nights ago negated any doubts I might have had about whooping cough. Of course, by then, it had been two weeks since I'd last slept through the night, and it was too late to do anything about it (antibiotics have to be given when you're in the sniffly-sneezy stage). And honestly, who thinks "whooping cough" when a grown woman has a drippy nose?

The doctor I went to see last week also missed it. He gave me codeine for the cough. Now--codeine is an interesting substance. Take one, and it's like having had a beer--slightly buzzed, very mellow. Take two (which was recommended), and it's like being on the edge of "buzzed" and "drunk". Both quantities proved powerless to stop the forces at play in my upper respiratory tract, though--it would suppress the cough for about an hour, only to let me be yanked out of the start of blissful sleep by the cough returning for its vengeance.

Seeing the doctor in the Netherlands is, depending on the doctor and the expat, either a wonderful experience, or hell in a white coat. In my case, it was the former: the doctor spoke excellent English (while I could have described what I'd wanted in Dutch, it would have opened the door for a terrible misunderstanding), listened patiently while I described what I had, and gave me exactly what I wanted: a steroid cream for my eczema, a packet of codeine for my cough, and a blood test for finding whether or not I was allergic to peanuts. The only downside was that I had to wait 15 minutes beyond my scheduled time, but honestly, what doctor's office doesn't have that? As a bonus, the guy was cute enough to have been a TV doctor, but I already have one of those ;-)

As he filled out the form for the blood test, he told me that the results wouldn't be in for a week, and to call back to discuss them. It sounded reasonable, so I called back a week later...

Only to be told that my test results were "too complicated" to explain over the telephone. I'm not entirely sure what that means...either I tested weakly positive for just about everything they test for, or maybe they discovered that I've got three blood type alleles and not the regular two. Or maybe they found out that I'm descended from Superman, or that my blood ate through the ELISA plate.

Either way, it was a most unsatisfactory end to a week's worth of waiting. And I have to make another appointment to see doctor. The truth is? Apparently I can't handle the truth....


  1. Hello Jules,

    Apparently you're not the only one:

    Get well soon,


  2. Thanks, Frank. Happily it seems to be clearing, as the cough has moved to the daytime hours. And not a moment too soon--apparently my diaphragm is suffering muscle cramps (think of a whole-gut Charley horse) because I've been coughing so much....