Saturday, 15 January 2011

When the Doctor gets ill

I remember a conversation with a primary school friend of mine who is living an amazing life that has absolutely nothing to do with medicine. I think I had the flu at the time; or it was when Public Health Services had me quarantined after I phoned them to ask whether or not I could get the repeat MMR jab if I were ill. They had me tested for mumps; it was negative, but I only got well enough to return to work the day before my quarantine was over. 
She: "I always wondered what doctors do when they get sick. It seems though, as if you guys suffer just like the rest of us"
Me: "Well, yes, except nobody feels sorry for us."

Some medical students suffer from hypochondria during medical school. One of my yearmates actually saw a psychologist about it. The thing is; we learn about these horrible diseases, but we only learn to put it into perspective a lot later. Perspective is important (unless you work in the States, then you just test for everything or get sued). Medical student hypochondria tends to reach it's max during psych block; but let's not talk about that. I never was one for medical student hypochondria; I just tend to take things as they are. 

Reminds me of something else. 
In second year/third year I had a group of 'friends' who turned out to be weak and fake because they ditched me when I needed them. Regardless. At some point I had the flu. I actually went home for it, in those days I was still really hardass and refused to go home for anything. 
Her: "So what do you think you have then?"
Me: "Meh, just a bit of influenza" (that was when big words made us feel smart)
Her: "No you don't. Why do you always want everything to be extra special? You just have the flu. Influenza is what kills people, you're not that sick. Stop trying to be special. You don't have influenza, you have the flu. You'll be fine". 
Me: "Influenza IS the flu". 
Her: "No, it's not, stop pretending you know more than me" (she had worked as a nursing assistant for a year). 
While I never doubted that I would be perfectly fine, I surely hope that lady now knows that the flu is caused by one or another strain of the influenza virus. And that the ordinary flu kills people every year. 

And about me 'trying to be extra special'? Life would have been a lot easier if I were 'just normal'. I am not 'just normal'. Almost nothing about me is not 'just normal'; and really most of it is in a good way. There were days I wished I were 'just normal'; because being labelled as 'unusual' is a bit lonely sometimes. 
I just hope being 'unusual' would allow me to do some amazing things later on. You know, like really helping people. 

So what does the doctor do when she gets 'ill'?

I've been noticing an intermittent really tired feeling in the lateral part of my left leg; which felt nothing really like my injury. But because of the experiences with that, I'm a bit freaked out because I do NOT want to have to forfeit my 10k race. Like I said; I have two future physiotherapist sisters who are a lot better with the locomotor system than I am. Or so I think; turns out I'm still the one who had the highest score for neuro in my group. 

After some bickering over my leg and some cluttered physical examination; one of them decided to test my sensibility. Turns out I have diminished sensibility in the area innervated by the n. peroneus communis and the lateral sural nerve. 

And then, I turn to 'UpToDate', only to discover nothing new. 

And then, I sigh, relieved, that I can keep on running as long as my peroneal muscle keeps doing it's thing.

And the, I curse, because redefining tired as numb doesn't make it any less annoying. 


  1. I like it good post.

    You also got a well deserved shot at the US medical system and some old school "friends". There must be a good story behind that.

  2. whhaaa??? influenza is the flu???

    Ha ha. Who would have thunk it?

    My preceptor (an MD) actually came back to her practice 5 days after her scheduled C section (breach baby). She said that she had to, because who else would look after her patients?

    She brought her son with her, came for a few hours a day, mostly for things like prescription renewal.

    Still... when a doc is sick, we are all screwed!