Had a routine appointment with my primary care doctor in Chula Vista Tuesday, a week ago today. She’s a good-looking, laughing Hindu lady who trained in India but is here now working at the VA.
When I told her I didn’t really have any health issues she laughed and said she liked to have social visits with her patients. She asked me about a flu shot. I told her I hadn’t had a flu shot in maybe 20, 30 years. I take care of that stuff with my supplements. I’m a vitamin freak. She wasn’t impressed. I told her the name of the company I deal with mostly, Life Extension Foundation. I mentioned that the board of directors of LEF is made up largely of medical doctors.
She laughingly said: “Medical doctors what to make money too.”
“What a cynic,” I said.
“What" she said? “You’re seventy-nine years old and you’re not cynic yet?”
“Not me. I’m a romantic.”
We were both laughing. She pressed the flu shot on me. She wasn’t laughing. I thought well, who knows more about this stuff, me or her?
“Okay,” I said.
We bantered on a bit and when I was leaving her office she said with a real sincerity: “Thank you for agreeing to get your flu shot.”
Sure. There was nothing to it. That was Tuesday. On Friday as I was going to bed I discovered a hint of something going on in my throat. I started taking a lot of anti-oxidant supplements. By the next afternoon I understood I was getting a cold. I went to a local pharmacy to pick up something that would dry up the nose so that I could sleep that night. I took them but they didn’t help. Awake coughing and sneezing all night.
Now it was Sunday morning. I had to drive to the other side to the VA in La Jolla where I would stay overnight and keep a previous appointment with the pain clinic on Monday morning. I worked in the morning, then started north. Took two hours to get across the frontier. Made it to the La Jolla VA and signed in. Lodging and Emergency have the same waiting room. It was kind of embarrassing because it was only a cold, but I asked if I could see a doctor. The male nurse at the desk asked what the problem was. I explained it was not an emergency, but that I have been through chemotherapy, my white blood count is low, and I didn’t want a simple cold to suddenly explode into something else.
He agreed. He signed me in, and what I later found to be a decision made on his own recognizance, gave me a ticket to get a chest x-ray while I waited to see the doctor. I did that and it wasn’t long before I was in a doctor’s office telling the lady what the story was. She said colds like this, viral infections, come and go. Not much to do with them. It was the bacterial infections that were of some concern. As sort of an after thought I mentioned the x-rays.
“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know you had x-rays.” She left the office and awhen she came said I had a bacterial infection in the lower lobe of the right lung. She would give me an antibiotic called moxifloxacin.
“It’s a heavy antibiotic,” she said, “so follow the directions carefully.” And then she was gone. Another twenty minutes and a young Chinese pharmacist brought me the pills, gave me some instructions, and I was finished.
The time line:
Tuesday the 17th: I get my first flu shot in 20, 30 years.
Friday night the 20th: A cold catches me.
Sunday afternoon the 22nd : the lower lobe of the right lung has a bacterial infection.
It’s probably coincidence.