I had a patient a few days ago who I found very annoying. She was a woman in her late sixties with cold and flu symptoms. What was annoying to me was she refused to speak in anything but a whisper. I can’t hear you, I would say. But she would keep whispering. I asked her why she was whispering and she whispered it was because she had laryngitis. I didn’t argue with her. I just stopped talking to her.
I hate it when patients whisper. You’re in the back of a noisey ambulance bumping down the road and they make you lean forward right into their faces so you can hear them, when laryngitis or not they could easily speak more audibly. I’m not saying I have the best hearing. I’m almost fifty and I have years of sirens assaulting my ear drums not to mention attendance at some excellent rock concerts in my day. Still that shouldn’t make me have to stick my ear down inches from a patient’s mouth to make out their “I’m so sick I have to whisper, poor, infirm me” lines.
The other thing that was annoying about her was every time she’d blow her nose, she’s try to hand me the moist Kleenex. I took it the first time, but after that I gave her an emesis basis and told her to put the Kleenexes in there. Then when we reached the hospital, she tried to hand me the emesis basin. Her mouth was moving and she was holding it out for me to grab it, but I didn’t take it.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Because I had gone all winter without even a hint of a cold while all around everyone has been dropping with the flu. I was thinking it was my sensible workout program, as well as taking Airborne at the first hint of a cold. This was going to be my first winter without a cold in probably my whole life. I was proud and excited of that impending fact. The older you get the more important it is to believe you are indestructible.
On the Airborne issue, you may have heard, but I guess they are saying Airborne doesn’t work — there was no science behind their claims that taking it at first hint of a cold will make the cold go away. Rebates are being offered,as part of a class action suit — Airborne Settlement. I filed as part of the suit (free money) and hope to be paid $63 dollars even though I have always found Airborne to do the job for me.
But not this time. I took Airborne at the first hint of a tickle in my throat, even though I knew now that it was proven not to work. And it didn’t get the job done. I guess it was probably the placebo effect in the past, and with that gone, I am now defenseless against whispering old ladies and their Kleenexes.
So the bottom line is I’m sick. Stuffy nose, minor headache and great chest-rattling cough. I’m off for a few days so hopefully I’ll be feeling better before I have to go back in.
It may not be a bad thing — getting sick once a year — just to remind me how crappy a person with just cold and flu symptoms can feel. Still I don’t feel crappy enough to whisper. Not yet.