Another Post Card from the Twilight Zone

I’ve been fighting a sore throat for a couple of days with all the ancillary symptoms of the flu. With all my bizarre past experiences with doctors, hospitals and clinics I’d resisted getting myself checked out. Well, this morning I really felt crappy so I relented and went to the urgent care at eight when they opened. I didn’t have to wait long (glad I did the early bird thing because the waiting room was packed when I left). The nurse ushered me in, got all my vitals and asked all the questions I’ve answered every time I go there just to test my memory. She said with the symptoms I was exhibiting she’d take both a test for strep and a test for flu. I somewhat naively assented. For the strep test she gagged me with a swab in the furthest nether regions of my throat. For the flu she jammed a swab up my left nostril, wiggled it around and pulled out who knows what. She said it would take about 20 minutes and the doctor would be right in.

The doc arrived on cue and asked me most of the same questions again. I hope I get extra points for answering correctly twice. He checked the usual functions and did admit my throat was somewhat red. I presume that’s not good but better than a coating of black, oozing pustules. He said he’d be back after they got the test results. I returned to my gagging and nose blowing.

The nurse returned after about 10 minutes looking rather sheepish. She said ‘I’m so sorry’. Definitely not the words one wants to hear when visiting the doctor. I have to admit there was no significant pause between her ‘I’m so sorry’ and her continuation of the sentence but it was long enough for my brain to run the list of fatal diagnoses that would follow. What can I say? I have a very vivid and rapidly reactive imagination. Anyhow, for her it went more like ‘I’m so sorry, the strep test came back negative (okaaayyy…???) but the flu test came back invalid. That’s never happened before’. Of course it hasn’t. This is me we’re talking about. She said ‘I’m going to have to swab again. Maybe I didn’t get enough of a sample’. Joy. Perhaps I’m snot deficient. She grabbed another six-inch swab and chose the right nostril this time. Not wanting to come away empty on the second try she gave the thing a very hearty back and forth and twirled it one way and then the other using what I’m sure were all six inches. Pretty sure she got a sample of brain tissue to go with the snot. ‘It’ll be about 20 more minutes’. Lying, I told her it was okay dabbing at my watering eyes.

I’d almost managed a nap when the doctor came back. ‘Damnedest thing’ he says. ‘The second test came back invalid. I’ve never seen that before’. Of course you haven’t. ‘Even though the strep came back negative and the flu test was invalid, what with your symptoms, I think we’ll treat you for both strep and flu.’ How cool is that? No definitive evidence I have either and I get meds for both! I asked him if perhaps I’d contracted some new, otherworldly flu strain that hadn’t yet been diagnosed. Knowing my luck, being ostracized as patient zero in some new, planet-wide epidemic was not out of the question. ‘Oh, we don’t test for type, just for the presence of the flu’ he said in a somewhat defensive, joyously twisted manner. Awesome.

I’m home now. Picked up my Tamiflu for the flu and Cefuroxime for strep. With the combination of the two I’m sure I will be annihilating any disease within a six foot radius of my body.


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