So where was I? Ah, yes. The face.

Antibiotics and hot soaks aside, the swelling continued. I woke Saturday morning with half of my face looking like Brando in The Godfather. If I’ve learned nothing else from this experience, it’s that I need to set aside money for a face-lift in my 60s because I do not look attractive with jowls. How Winston Churchill could muddle through all those bulldoggy mornings during the blitz I’ll never know.

My doctor had asked me to call him with a status report, and when I reached him his advice was “Probably going to have to be drained. Emergency Room.”

This kind of thing fills me with dread because, of course, I don’t have insurance.

“How can this be, Bryn? A professional man in his 40s, no insurance?”

Well, ya see, I’m hypothyroid. The $26-per-month prescription constitutes a pre-existing condition, so the only way I can get insurance is through Cal-COBRA, at the low, low cost of $1,471 a month. That’s with a 50% co-pay and $3,000 deductible.

So yeah, no.

I got to spend a few hours in the gentle embrace of St. Vincent’s ER. No draining, but IV antibiotics and two new prescriptions. If you’re ever in the same boat of paying cash price for meds, let me give you a hint; call around before you fill your script. Prices… uh… vary. For the more expensive of the two antibiotics, Horton & Converse had it for $84, Rite Aid for $49 and CVS for $305.

When I got home, I called my doctor again, trying to figure out if I should add these to the drug he gave me (more, more, more!) or supplant it. When I told him the hospital had given me x and y, he said, “Oh, good. Those are for that type of infection.”

That reaction you’re having? That one, right now… yeah, that was my reaction. But I resisted the urge to scream it into the phone. There was no point. I just said goodbye and hung up. Then I turned into Les Grossman.

“Then why didn’t you give me this shit in the first place, MOTHERFUCKER?!

Cats scattered. I resisted the urge to fling my phone across the room.

The new antibiotics are strong. Kicked my ass for about three hours. As I flopped around on my office couch in a cold sweat, feeling like I’d taken a few too many sleeping pills, I was vaguely aware of cats coming and going. My phone ringing. The Ex-Box and The Souvenir making dinner below.

When I finally woke up, I was dreaming I had fallen out of a helicopter. Onto rocks.

I have felt at various times massively unattractive, but how I felt Saturday was pegged on the red side of grisly. I smelled bad from sweating, the drugs were making my face oily and my scalp dry, I hadn’t groomed my fuzz or fur in days… oh, and I had a giant, swollen, glowing, pus-filled radioactive blister where the left half of my face used to be.

Naturally, this was the night I would have a visitation from what Ray Stantz might have called “A full-body, free-roaming vapor.” In short, my phone rang at midnight-thirty, and one look told me it was an ROF – Randomly Occurring Female – calling for moral support, and most likely, an actual, physical shoulder to cry on.

Luckily, since I felt like Quasimodo, I had shoulder in ample supply.

to be continued

4 Responses to May You Live in Interesting Times

  • Freiherr Karza von Karnstein says:

    I am happy to see that you are well enough to write again.

    I have an idea as to why the doctor did not initially prescribe what the hospital later prescribed for you. The problem with antibiotics these days is that they have been over-prescribed in recent decades. An unintended consequence was that this practice (of overprescription) killed off many bacteria who were natural predators for many other antibiotic-resistant species of bacteria. The sad result that you are feeling the effects of today is that it is now common medical practice to exercise a high level of circumspection when prescribing antibiotics.

    (An aside, the current recommendation for people taking antibiotics is for them to take the entirety of the prescription on the schedule prescribed in order for the medication to be completely effective. Many people stop taking them when symptoms of the infection disappear, which is unwise as active bacteriae could still be in the system. The recommendation on discontinuing antibiotics is to do so only if severe side effects–pain, rapid alteration of vital signs or function–appear, and to do so in consultation with a physician.)

    As well, as you noted, the current antibiotics have powerful side effects. It is quite possible that your physician’s line of thought was to try to avoid prescribing them to you unless the infection evolved to the stage that it would warrant the antibiotics the ER prescribed and their side effects.

    I know this probably does not make this current situation much easier in the material sense, but I thought it might give perhaps a nanogramme of comfort to know a potential rationale behind the prescription process in your case.

    I am very sad to hear that an almost Calvinistically hard-working person like you is in the position of not being covered by health insurance. I hope that, one day, you will be covered by the President’s recent health insurance legislation.

    I hope your condition continues to improve.

  • John says:

    Ex-box, that made me laugh.
    Hope you feel better soon, sir.

  • Honey West says:

    “get well soon”, that sounds juvenile, but it’s sincerely meant. Really, I hope this situation improves a great deal for you and no more dreams of falling onto rocks. (weird the way illness makes us dream the worst dreams). I certainly share you frustration with so-called “doctors”. Take care.

  • Bryn Pryor says:

    Thanks. I’ll take the Hallmark card.

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