Paediatrics – It Made Me Sick

I remember having done paediatrics as a student and as an intern. Both times, I got sick. Probably for only about a week or so, but then I got better, so I could enjoy the rest of the rotation.

I’ve been doing paediatrics now for about 6 weeks. And I hate it. Well, that’s probably not entirely true. I like managing and diagnosing paediatric conditions, but I hate the germs and bugs that comes with the patient group.

Every second or third child is a febrile, coughing, runny nosed kid. With such a high exposure rate of flu viruses and bacterial infections, it was only a matter of time before I became sick. And sick I became. In fact, for a total of 3 weeks! Yes 3 miserable weeks of suffering!

Thinking back to it, the first time I got sick, I had to cancel dinner plans with a friend. I started feeling better over the next few days, but had to do a 4 day stretch of nights. And on the last night shift… I got a sore throat. So I get sick some more, with some laryngitis, hoarse voice and the like. Just as it’s improving …. I get unilateral throat soreness. I don’t think much of it, thinking it’s viral. But over the next 2 days, I become febrile, I get chills, I have extremely painful lymph nodes, and I think I can see some exudate in the back of my throat.

I only just started some antibiotics today, and it’s already helping a bit. My throat doesn’t feel so sore anymore. I just hope I don’t spike fevers again tonight.

I must be extremely unlucky with 3 successive episodes of throat infections. I think I’ll be extremely glad to leave paediatrics behind and to leave a miserable few weeks of illness behind as well.

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My Experience as A Patient

So I’ve been unwell this past week, with mainly flu like symptoms (sore throat, coughs, joint aches). I knew it was probably just the standard run of the mill flu symptoms, but it was only in the past few days that something bothered me; pleuritic chest pain.

Waking up from sleep, I had a sharp well localized pain on the R side of my back. Deep inspiration seemed to exacerbate this pain. That got me a little worried, because it meant I had pleuritic chest pain! And with it, it meant inflammation of the pleural lining, something I was taught in medical school, was something quite serious.

Worry setting in, I decided whether to go to the ED department for treatment or not. I mean, it would be long waiting times maybe, and it would be weird in a way to be treated by previous colleagues. After pondering, and a great deal of reluctance, I decided to go. The possibility that I could deteriorate and be much worse off was enough to get me going.

The triage nurse recognized me “you work here don’t you?”. That was the first part of awkwardness; being recognized by other staff members.

The ED waiting room was empty. The TV blaired on in the background, with news reports. I took out my smartphone, and started to study some Chinese. And from this point, you could tell that I wasn’t really that sick. I guess I wanted more reassurance, and to just get seen just in case of something serious.

I got my observations and vitals done, and was then sent into the fast track room. There, I did some more waiting, waved at a colleague, and got attended to by one of my previous colleagues. So I explained my story, throwing in medical terms like pleuritic chest pain and such. The obligatory chest exam was done, with auscultation of lungs. Then I got sent for a CXR. And then, I got an ECG.

The senior doctor came in and saw me, asking me how I was. She had a new hairstyle from when I last saw her. Essentially, I had pleurisy, with no need for antibiotics, just some rest, and NSAIDs. It was a relief I guess.

All in, it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. The funny thing is, that right after I left the department, my pleuritic pain disappeared! How convenient. If it happened earlier, there would be no need to go to the ED, and I could have avoided the awkwardness of being seen by colleagues. But it was interesting to know what it was like as a patient, sitting in the seats, and being in the other spot as a patient, as opposed to being the doctor.

What was even more amusing, was that as I rocked up for my afternoon work, the other doctors had known I was at ED earlier that morning, and were asking me if I was ok.

Sigh…. I vow to never be sick again as to need to be seen by ED again.