11 September, 2015

An unexpected week

It's been a week of unexpecteds.

We expected to be able to leave hospital before lunch, but it took till after 2pm to check cross all the t's and dot all the i's.
I took this photo of my coffee cup in our dining room
one day before this last 10 days. Recently I've not
had much time to gaze dreamily into coffee cups at home.
In fact I've not spent much time at home at all.

We expected that life would begin to get back to normal. 

I went to the doctor for a follow-up appointment about my strange lower throat sensations. The stomach medication hadn't made a significant change and the doctor told me it was all in my head. I hadn't expected that. He sent me home with no medicine and told me to relax (ha!).

Hadn't planned on it, but ended up going to CAJ to support the high school volleyball teams and seniors. They had inter school matches and the seniors sold food, which helps them finance their March ministry trip to Thailand.

We didn't expect that our youngest son would develop an ear infection in the other ear. But at bed time he showed us that behind his ear was indeed swelling up, just like the other ear did last week. It threw us into a spin. What would happen next? What should we do?

We didn't know what to expect. But as soon as I looked at my son's ear I knew where things were generally headed: back to the hospital. His ear had been discharging through the night and was still red and inflamed.

We didn't know whether this would end up as an admission. We were scared it would.

It was raining quite a lot. I didn't expect the car park to be full, but it was. We drove 15 minutes to get there, then waited 15 minutes in line to get a park.

I didn't know the procedures at the hospital. That's one of the things I hate about accessing the medical system here, I feel as though I'm swimming in a whole lot of procedural unknowns. So I went to the emergency rooms, as we didn't have an appointment. They sent me back to the main entry where a nurse triaged us, accessed his records, rang the doctor, and set us up with an appointment an hour and a half later.

I'll skip the bit where we drove home in the rain, hung out for half an hr and drove back again...

The doctor found his left ear had both a middle and external infection. He also came to the conclusion that the bug was resistant to the antibiotics our son was on, so they got changed. I hadn't expected an opportunity to get tablets instead of the powder that he's been given (and hated) on Monday. But I advocated strongly for tablets and we got them (it wasn't easy, though).

Once he found out he wasn't going to be admitted our son started looking at the time. He wanted to be back at school before 3pm so that he could star in a skit their class was doing for chapel. He really wasn't too sick, the strange course of the infection just had us concerned.

I got him back to school and dashed off in the car to get groceries (so thankful for our car during this period of ill health).

I foolishly declared it a no-doctor day on Facebook that morning. It would have been the first day since the previous Tuesday that I hadn't been sitting in hospital or a clinic at some point in the day.

So I didn't expect that I would be again sitting in a hospital that afternoon. 

I had decided, after Tuesday's unexpected doctor's visit outcome, to seek a second opinion, one of a gastroenterologist because there is a possibility that this is caused by reflux.

Long story, but I decided to try a local smallish hospital which had the specialist I needed, but I found out on Thursday morning that the doctor only has outpatient clinics on Thursdays! And not on the 3rd Thursdays (as in, next week). So it was yesterday or wait a couple of weeks, or go somewhere else.

I decided to just go. Because it was a quick decision I couldn't ask a Japanese-speaking friend to help. So I had to manage it all on my own. Which was challenging, but the nurses and receptionists were kind.

I didn't expect to be sent to an internal medicine specialist (like a GP in Japan) first. She was about to write me off as just another stressed-out person too, until I pushed the point that it could be reflux. She eventually relented and sent me down the hall to the gastroenterologist. He was brusque. I don't think he liked the fact that he had a less-than fluent foreigner in his room.

But we eventually got to the point where he also agreed that reflux could be a possibility and a gastroscopy would be a good way to go (I wouldn't have known this except for the OMF medical advisor's advice, I've been emailing them in the middle of this whole affair).

I didn't expect to have to make decisions about the gastroscopy on the spot. The nurse followed me out of the doctor's consultation room and asked me whether I'd like it through my nose or mouth and whether I'd like it asleep or awake. No information given to help me with the decisions! Though asleep would be nice, I'm not fond of GAs, so awake it is. As for nose vs mouth, I had to take a stab in the dark.

I didn't expect to have to wait nearly two months till this could be done!

I didn't expect to be dispensed with Chinese medicine in the meantime.

Today's been the most predictable day I've had for 10 days, despite the fact that we went back to the hospital this morning to see the ENT and the paediatrician for follow-up appointments and this afternoon I took my middle son to get braces on his teeth. These things were planned and expected. 

But I'm thoroughly sick of doctor's surgeries, hospitals, clinics, etc. There are no more planned visits until next Friday. Will we make it? I guess you need to watch this space.

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