Saturday, August 14, 2010

Down With the Sickness

It's the dead of winter here right now. The tradewinds sweep the island, and the thermometer reads a chilly 75°F. A few people walk around wearing sweaters and blankets.

I started getting a sore throat last Tuesday, which was a bad sign, since I had just been sick about two weeks before. I chose to ignore it, convincing myself that I just had allergies to the huge amount of dust that had been kicked up by changing one of the carpets in the studio or maybe my old leaf mold allergy has come back, since it is the dead of winter here and therefore the closest thing we have to fall. Hey, if you're sick and therefore feverish and delusional, it makes sense. So anyhow, I figured that I must be feeling good enough to go on that hike along the island's southern coast.

Wrong. Totally worn out by the end of that day and a full-blown bad cold the next.

There's something going around the island. My boss says he's sick, Larry, the company president is apparently sick, and at least one kid from my church is sick with the same thing. I guess having a lot of people crowded into and mostly unable to leave this one little area makes for a breeding ground for germs. Especially in the dead of winter.

I took Monday off and stayed in bed. Still sick. By Thursday I had had enough and bit the bullet and went into LBJ.

The thing about LBJ Tropical Medical Center is that it sucks. This really isn't a controversial thing to say, because even the people that work there know it's terrible for a hospital. It's ridiculously underfunded, understaffed, and undersomethingelsedthatIcan'tthinkofthewordfor. Politicians know it has problems, to the point that they consistently campaign on getting it properly funded. It's bad enough that even travel guides tell you that if you get sick, just stick it out until you can get to the better hospitals in Apia. The first time I went to LBJ there I sat around for four hours waiting to get a prescription to get some meds refilled, watching the Disney Channel in the waiting room the entire time, and was told to come back on Monday to try again.

This time I was going to avoid that sort of mess. I was going on a weekday. I asked one of my coworkers the day before if I needed to make an appointment first. Nope, just walk in. I got there and found out I should have made an appointment. After about 30 minutes of waiting, I think one of the receptionists started to worry about my cough and sent me to the ER, which actually had fewer people waiting in it. After only 15 minutes of Disney Channel later did I get to see a doctor, who prescribed me some cough syurp and antibiotics and a note to take the rest of the week off.

Next up was a visit to the hospital pharmacy. I drew #34 from the "take a number" dohicky. The LED sign said that they were now serving #11. Wasn't this a scene at the end of the movie Beetlejuice? Anyhow, this is better than the old system, where they would yell out the numbers in Samoan. 23 numbers and one discovery that there were no water fountains left in this part of the building later, I got my antibiotics, my Robitussin, and...a syringe with no needle? I didn't notice that one until later, but I have no idea what it's for. This is still a lot less weird than the time they gave my friend Jeremy magic mouth wash¹:

Well, it's now Saturday evening an I've made progress, but I'm still not totally better. But I've learned a few things:

- Don't go hiking if you're sick, even if it's just a little cold and it's warm outside

- You actually do need to make appointments to see the General Practice doctors at LBJ.

- A needleless syringe is a great way to measure out the correct amount of cough syrup.

- Cough syrup is a lot easier to take if you drink something syurpy immediately before and after. The syrupy stuff coats your tongue a little and forms a barrier from the cough medicine.

- Tissues are $1.75 a box here. Dang.

- Hawaiian Punch, which is loaded with vitamin C,² fills the "something syurpy" requirement, and apparently about the same price per gallon at Cost-U-Lots than it does at a mainland Wal-Mart, about $5 and some change. It's not, however, really made in Hawaii, which is kind of disappointing.

- Don't wanna carry several trashcans full of tissues down three flights of steps, especially when you're sick? Most apartments have a built-in chute for taking care of that sort of thing.

- Being bedridden with illness is a great time to write blog entries you wouldn't have written otherwise.

Also, just because. (NSFW language)

¹ It's come to my attention that magic mouth wash is apparently a real thing, but I can't seem to find the blog entry that it originated from to see if that's what he actually had been given.

² Buying this for colds made a lot more sense before I knew vitamin C doesn't really do anything for them.

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