I am the world’s most stubborn person when it comes to the doctor. It’s not that I’m scared of doctors or hospitals, I’m not even scared of needles (except when they’re trying to draw blood from my tiny veins, and just stabbing haphazardly going, “Whoops!”). I just have something within me that doesn’t want to bother anyone with something dumb like road rash, a bruised tail bone, or a nasty flu (all self-diagnosed). Unfortunately, that means that there have been times when my diagnosis was entirely incorrect, and I’ve needed to be literally carried to the hospital. Oops?! Five seasons of House does not a doctor make.
I’ve been told I have an incredibly high pain tolerance by several doctors, had a few shake their heads at me like I’m an idiot for going so long without medical attention, and I have only made one doctor speechless because of my state. And as of today, I’ve now made one go, “….Oh no, no, no, no, no….”
I seem to have left my immune system back in Canada. Perhaps it was to reduce luggage weight or make more room for Austrian desserts, either way, I’ve been sick more often than not since I’ve arrived. This most recent battle presented like the flu, and, like the seasoned vet I am, I was ready and waiting with a battalion of fluids, kleenex, and several Disney movies. But for some reason, this war has been raging for over two weeks now. I’ve been told time and time again to go see a doctor by friends when they hear I’m sick again. I refused outright each time. For one, I wasn’t willing to waste a doctor’s (or my) time with the flu. They’d just prescribe fluids, rest, and The Little Mermaid. Secondly, without Austrian facsimiles of my campus health clinic, my family doctor, or any of Canada’s overcrowded cesspools (AKA walk-in clinics), I just didn’t have the energy or the means to track down some doctor in a foreign land in a foreign language.
…That was until yesterday. I hit my breaking point. There is only so long you can go feeling like you swallowed a chainsaw covered in steel wool on top of a gross plethora of flu-like symptoms. So, Google and I joined forces to track down someone who might at the very least understand, “It feels like I swallowed a chainsaw covered in steel wool.” I pulled out several potentials and called them all. I got fax machines, someone who hung up on me, and a few incomplete numbers. Utterly frustrated, I found myself on the phone with a nurse from Alberta Health Link, spilling out my symptoms. She told me to find a doctor. And so we’ve come full circle. Great.
So, down to my last chip, I phoned a friend.
Actually, I phoned a friend of my mother’s friend who told me about her friend who happened to be a doctor.
And the very next day, I phoned this doctor, but was bombarded with a recording in rapid German. Nervous that they were giving me instructions or important details, I asked yet another friend who was significantly more fluent in German to call and find out what the recording was saying. Apparently, it just meant I’d have to call back during their office hours to make an appointment. And as luck would have it, when I tried to call back, my phone kept disconnecting. So, I went back to the German-speaking friend and she offered to make the call for me.
That afternoon, I found myself sitting anxiously in the doctor’s waiting room without even a ’67 McLean’s issue to keep myself occupied (and I’d already ready that issue of Lederhosen Weekly). Eventually, my name was called over the loud speaker, and I weaved my way through the matrix of doors to find the doctor (an incredibly charming Austrian named Helmut). I gave him my pathetic list of symptoms, and he poked and prodded me accordingly. As he was giving me my prescriptions, I reminded him about my sore throat, and he pulled out his flashlight. I said, “Ahhhhhh” and he said, “….Oh no, no, no, no, no….” He was lost for the English words for a few moments before he spouted off the german medical term: somethingsomethingstreptococcalsomethingsomething (that’s definitely verbatim). “Strep throat?” I offered. He poked my swollen lymph nodes, “Yes, madame, you have bad…strep throat?”
But honestly, I’m relieved. You can actually do something for strep, and, unlike I previously foretold, my leg didn’t get amputated in the process. I walked from the Apotheke with a cocktail of German pharmaceuticals in my hand. And as I tossed back my first battery of pills, I cheers’d Alexander Fleming and orange juice.
Here’s to hoping I’m well before Ireland.
XOXO Gossip (But-Never-Going-To-Be-A-Doctor-Or-Fortune-Teller) Girl