Driving home from work on Friday, I thought, "I feel strange. This better not be the flu!" When I got there, I thought I might just be hungry. I ate some leftovers and a small snack and felt, I thought, much better. I was wrong.
All weekend, I found myself tethered to my bed by terrible congestion, a strange fever-y feeling (with no real fever), and a general misery so strong that I kind of lost sight of just what it felt like not to be sick. Finally, on Monday morning, I realized I needed to see a doctor.
The very kind and thorough MedExpress doctor told me that although he had no flu tests, he felt I should start TamiFlu that day before it was too late. So, I left with a prescription and a letter excusing me from work for most of the week.
You know how sometimes when you get sick, you get so sick so quickly that you lose sight of just how bad you feel? That's what happened to me. I kept thinking it was just a cold. A bad cold, sure, but just a cold. Then, after my second TamiFlu pill, I began to emerge from the cloud of sorrow that had dropped around me and I realized just how sick I was.
I watched most of The Andy Griffith Show, several episodes of New Girl, both Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Thirteen, and a great deal of YouTube content intended to help one fall asleep. A few things I can take away: I need some new TV to watch, the smashing of the Douchebag Jar at Schmidt's wedding was perfect, Clooney really was at his most physically and charmingly perfect in 2001.
Ultimately, I realized that although I have made a concerted effort to take better care of myself, I can't control most things...and I especially can't control the flu. Also, I need to believe her when my body tells me she's sick. I did a fair amount of gas lighting myself before I relented and went to MedExpress. I should have gone on Sunday when I still felt only vaguely doomed.
We talk all the time about how women endure more pain than men (in general) and how often men don't believe women when they report illness, injury, or assault. I worry that I, like so many others, have so internalized those attitudes that I do it to myself, too. What if the Urgent Care doctor tells me I just have a bad cold? What if they just dismiss me and I just have to come home still feeling like roadkill? What if the doctor wants to blame my weight for how I feel? I shouldn't have to worry about any of those things, but I definitely do before I go see any doctor (with the exception of my amazing naturopath, Dr. A, who is always amazing and kind and listens to me better than any medical professional ever has in my life).
I was recently chatting with a friend about some health issues she's been experiencing. She told me she didn't want to go to the doctor because the last time she'd been, the doctor had made her feel ashamed about a recent weight gain. None of the issues she wanted to discuss were directly linked to her weight, but this doctor couldn't get past that topic. She was discouraged and had stayed away for almost a year. A year of feeling crummy and impotent about her own body. What misery. It's not right or fair. I told her it seemed to me she needed a new doctor. I hope she finds one. One that doesn't make her afraid to come back for more than a year. I've been in that exact situation myself, too, and I know how it feels. It feels terrible. That shouldn't be the takeaway from a doctor's visit.
This is a topic I've addressed before, I know. It's just been on my mind in light of recent illnesses. I have to say, when I did go the the Urgent Care, I found only kindness and caring. That was a huge relief. It's definitely what I needed in my weird flu-ish state and it's certainly what I deserved as a sick patient. The weird part is being surprised by it. Or, at least, that should be the weird part.