I keep taking what I like to refer to as a ‘blogging hiatus.’ But this last disappearing act was totally involuntary. The Ministry of Health should be held accountable. If you live in Kuwait, you’re probably familiar with the MOH’s shenanigans. If you don’t live in Kuwait… ah, just use your imagination! Health care is appalling everywhere. Except maybe in Switzerland.
So on Thursday morning, I went to our local clinic with a mild rash. Was it an insect bite? A reaction to a perfume I sprayed? Something I ate? I had no idea. And neither did the doctor. The closest the doctor got to me during her examination… wait, no, there was no examination. She merely listened to my description of the rash that started on Tuesday night, prescribed me an antihistamine and gave me some topical hydrocortisone. Wait, can I put this on my forehead and ears? I asked alarmed. She looked at me like I just asked if I can use the cream as a sandwich spread. (By the way, she’s the same GP who laughed at me before! Read about her here.) Yes, silly. The cream can be applied anywhere with no problems.
You know what happened next, right? I applied the cream a couple of times only to wake up on Friday morning looking like this. Well, minus the red hair. My eyes were black and blue, puffy and swollen. My mother rushed me to another clinic where the shrewd doctor prescribed me two hydrocortisone shots in the muscle (ow!). Still no diagnosis, still no examination.
But this time, the shots worked like magic. I was fine all of Friday (and happily preparing for a family picnic) and I took my second shot on Saturday. The mysterious swelling had all but disappeared, but I wore my sunglasses all day. Just in case Prince Charming dropped by unannounced.
I don’t know what happened that night but I woke up at 3 am on Sunday practically clawing my face off. Dear readers, I almost screamed when I looked in the mirror and saw myself. It was NOT pretty. What happened? Did I eat something that triggered it (the Thing that two doctors haven’t even named) again? Was it the exposure to the sun? Did the amazing drug wear off? By 4 am I had to be taken to the hospital. The swelling was getting out of hand and it was now accompanied by a spreading rash. Good times.
My mother and I sat in the emergency room an hour watching the worst horror flick ever made on a tiny screen. The queue kept getting longer. Nobody moved. People kept knocking on the doctor’s office, opening the door, peeking in and retreating quietly. I assumed the doctor was seeing a patient. An hour later, an Indian doctor appeared and was strolling around the waiting room, hands in his pockets, stethoscope limp around his neck. He peered at us curiously and walked into a different office. Then he stepped out and motioned for one of the young men to follow him, disregarding people’s numbers and how long they’ve been waiting. We were all baffled. Well it turned out that he was the only doctor on duty! He was in the wrong office. He didn’t bother calling people’s numbers. AND there were two people waiting patiently for him for over an hour in his office! Agh!
He finally saw me. I was in the middle of my narrative, trying to show him my neck (that was turning into a frightful shade of red) when he interrupted me. “This is simple. Allergy. You take a shot now.” He handed me the paper. I was furious.
I was even more irate after the intravenous hydrocoristone shot that only made me more determined to scratch my face off. At 10 am, I was sitting in front of doctor #4, at yet another hospital, repeating the story once again. He at least did not prescribe me anything. He gave me some calming lotion and told me to head to the Allergy Center the next day.
It was not until Monday that I was properly diagnosed and started receiving the right (!) treatment for acute urticaria (I think it’s just a fancy word for ‘random allergic reaction’). I had to see six doctors and consult another one over the phone. Granted that it’s a public holiday and the Allergy Center was closed, why didn’t any of these doctors take the right steps? Apparently urticaria is very common and is treated with oral steroids and antibiotics in case of inflammation. I don’t understand why our doctors are so jaded. I don’t understand why half of them didn’t bother examining me or asking for a second opinion. I don’t understand how they can be apathetic after taking an oath. I had to deal with the discomfort of swelling and a rash, but how many others have gone through worse?
We don’t need a new government right now, we need better work ethics in this country. Starting with our doctors.
On a funny note one of the doctors was asking me to describe the pain. She was apparently impressed with my (limited!) medical vocabulary — all thanks to Google and my minor hypochondriac tendencies. Are you a nurse? She asked me. I shook my head and told her I work at a small museum. In the medical part of the museum? she wanted to know.