Friday, November 4, 2011

Leprosy in the Student Health Center

Being sick is a terrible thing, it's you at your weakest point. The only nice thing about being sick when you're younger is that you get to blow off school, are pitied heavily by your mother, and get to watch many, many movies and bad TV shows (nothing good was ever on during the day). College makes being sick a fucking nightmare. You run the risk of missing class, your mother isn't there, and everyone treats you like a leper, afraid to even come near you. In some cases they even threaten violence against you if you accidentally get them sick (we can't help that! We didn't ask for this to happen). Not to mention the anxiety that's involved with illness in college. If you have a cough for example, you're up half the night hacking up a lung and that might also mean that your roommate(s) are up with you, killing you silently with their thoughts. No one wants to feel like they're being quietly murdered. If I am to be murdered I would like to know about it please, and be given the chance to attempt to open a can of whoop ass (I'll kill you future attacker).

Eventually when sick however you might break down and call your health center, hoping desperately that they can fix you. This is already an undesirable thing since nobody wants to go to a doctor that's not their own. Personally, I love my doctor, she knows how I get sick and knows just what to give me to make me a happy camper (aka knock-out drugs. This will be the first time that I assure you I am not a drug addict).

So you call the health center hoping to schedule an appointment for that day, there is a very loud static making it grating to hold the phone up to you ear, which is obviously a problem because you then don't hear when the woman answers the phone. The woman asks you your symptoms in an annoyed, loud tone since you have to ask her to repeat herself four times. You can't say that you're simply calling so that you can get the doctor to give you a prescription (again, not an addict. I simply prefer to be properly sedated when ill). You give the run of the mill symptoms of a cold, I have a cough, it's dry, up all night. You give this with slight annoyance since you know that you'll be asked again by the nurse and the doctors. Why do the receptionists ask you when you're going to be asked again? Is there no inter-office communication? I feel as though that should be rectified. Finally, you hang up with the receptionist after being threatened that if you're late to your appointment, you'll be fined, and you haul ass across campus to the medical center.

At the check-in desk (almost always run by a sour, 60 year old toad-woman, or an ambiguously gay man) you give your ID, and verify your birthday. If you're going to the health center you had damn well better know your birthday in the shortest, most concise way possible. You will be asked at least 7 times to repeat it as if everyone working in the health center expects that you are an impostor, searching for that high of being weighed, poked and prodded. If you have a cough, you will also be given a mask to wear while you wait. The most degrading of all regulations. I refuse to wear said mask since I am not, in fact, an Asian, worried about catching bird flu or whatever weird strain of disease that's circulating in their countries; and because I can think of few fates more horrible than coughing and having it reverberate back onto your face. Tell me how that's sanitary.

You sit in a region of the waiting area wanting to be as secluded as possible, hesitating to make friends with the other people around you lest they have a disease more terrible than yours. If you look around, you'll notice that there is always that one person who looks near death. A mopey, miserable expression on the person's wan/beat red (it's always one or the other) face. You wonder what they're dying of and inch away from them as best you can. If your health center is like mine, there is a separate area for the near death patients, hoping to keep these animals away from the regular folk who have mere colds.

I will digress a moment to paint a different scenario for you: the urine sample. Men, I don't want to hear none of your bitchin' (yes I was hick for just a second, forgiveness please). You're predisposed to be able to aim your piddle (I hope you cringed reading that word, as I cringed typing it). Women, however, are not able to aim, not to mention you're supposed to catch your pee midstream. I don't follow this rule, unwilling to take this chance.

Peeing in a cup is an anxiety-ridden experience; you never know how much you will pee when you're forced to sit down and catch it in a cup. God forbid it should be a lighter pee and it runs down the base of your ass instead of coming out in a stream, or you misplace this cup, causing you to not only have piss all over your hand, but have no pee in the cup to submit for analyzation. You're forced to remain in the bathroom until you have something to give these waiting nurses, who are, no doubt, judging you from just outside the bathroom. You run water, try to ineptly drink out of the faucet, pushing from your mind how unsanitary that is. You simply CANNOT emerge from the porcelain throne without a warm plastic cup of your own piss...

Back to a normal visit, you're called by a gruff nurse. Why are all nurses gruff? Why can't any of them be sweet and understanding of your weakened state? They are, instead, impatient as fuck as you ineptly remove your shoes to be weighed, juggling the various items you've brought with you. You're always weighed when you go to the doctor, something I will never understand. If I have the flu/bronchitis who gives a rat's ass how fat I've gotten in this Halloween season (DONT JUDGE ME). Now that I think about it, it's probably to get the dosage of my medication right but IT'S STILL UNJUST! The nurses then verify your birthday (gotta keep out those imposters), ask you a series of questions (few of which have to do with your current symptoms), take your temperature with the latest space-aged thermometer, and send you back into the waiting room. Here, you seem to enter a paradox: there are magazines but they are all either obscure or at the very least 8 years old. Why is it that doctor's offices can never get recent or popular magazines? Is the doctor's office some sort of black hole for popular culture?

So, you're reading a magazine with an article about Kelly Clarkson winning American Idol when the doctor finally calls you in. Finally, you're going to be with the person who can get you drugs (not a drug addict), you're even willing to retell him/her your symptoms because you know he/she controls the prescription pad (not an addict). The thing that I find most interesting about this portion of the visit, however, is that doctors seem very concerned with assuring you that they are not in fact molesting you; they are doing their job. "I'm going to listen to your lungs under your shirt but I'm going to keep it covered," they assure me. I'm always okay with this, thinking in my head, you've gone to med. school sir/ma'am you may, in fact, put your stethoscope up my shirt without causing me to yell RAPE! As long as I see your credentials hung up on the wall and there are no weird, lingering touches, we're all set, my friend.

If you're lucky you'll get the drugs you wanted and get to skip down to the pharmacy with your slip for a controlled substance in hand. However, there brings your next challenge. If you're like me, you operate on your parent's health insurance and never really thought about going to the doctor. However for some reason, pharmacists are reluctant to give you your medication when they have issues figuring out what your insurance coverage is. This is always a stressful experience: the pharmacist telling you you don't have coverage when you know that you do, in fact, have coverage. You consider asking the pharmacist to just give you the medication, however, knowing that they will regard you harshly, you allow them to retreat to the back to call your insurance company. Your insurance company will then inform the jolly yet unrelenting pharmacist that, surprise! they changed your ID number without telling your family. Those rascals! You may then stumble out of the health center hours later, feeling the wind and fresh, unsullied air upon your face; optimistic about the coming days that will hopefully bring you health.

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