Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hospital adventures

(Please note that I got a little too excited in yesterday's post when I was converting the price of strawberries from pints to grams to kilos to pounds, and then dirhams to dollars. You can now see the corrected amounts in the original post.)

Out of nowhere on Monday, I had an intense, freak of nature pain in the tissue surrounding my lungs. At first it was just uncomfortable, but then it hurt to breathe deeply and then it hurt to sleep. I had one crazy night where I was convinced there was something inside of me trying to get out via a tunnel it was burrowing through my lungs and then out my left arm (being miserably awake at 3am with intense pain will make such scenarios seem plausible and/or likely). I don't like to break out this analogy very often - really, there's no need to - but it was the most intense pain I've felt since childbirth. I'm not saying it was AS painful as childbirth, just that nothing has hurt me since then as much as this mystery pain in my back did.

Anyway, before that terrible night of sleep, when the pain was still in its ramping-up stage, I went to the doctor and got the expected, "hmm, I'm not sure what it is, just wait it out, and in the meantime here are some prescription-strength painkillers." FYI, that terrible night of sleep was while I was on those painkillers, so maybe they didn't work? I do know that I made the mistake of taking them before Googling them. We always get the European equivalents over here, so the names are never familiar. Googling them is a good way to figure out what it is we're actually taking. This particular drug (Arcoxia) happens to be on the list of unapproved drugs in the US, which was a lovely fact to learn after I'd already taken some.

Anyway (again), the next day I went to the hospital to have a chest x-ray done. Basically, the doctor wanted to see if maybe I'd broken a rib without knowing it, hahahahaha. This was my first time inside a UAE hospital, so I made sure to form some impressions to report. The innards of the hospital were very normal - lots of long corridors, Indian/Filipina/Ethiopian nurses, cleaning crews all over the place (the hospital was immaculate) - but the  reception area was so glitzy. It was all gold paneling and mirrors and chandeliers, and it was attended by a young Emirati woman sitting listlessly behind a counter. Why do I assume she was Emirati? Because her hair was piled up a mile high under her hijab, of course.

When it came down to actually having the x-ray done, there was some confusion over whether I would accept having the procedure carried out by a male technician. If I wanted a female, they said, I could come back later. I thought that was a sensitive gesture but I was in so much pain that I didn't really care who took the x-ray.

Then the (male) technician asked me the question seemingly out of nowhere, "Are you married?" I said I was, and he immediately followed up with, "Are you pregnant?"

Ah. Because a negative answer to the first question would have rendered the asking of the second question unnecessary. That's how things work in the UAE. (And he was asking because you can't get an x-ray if you're pregnant.)

In the bathroom where I changed my clothes, there was a typed sign on the wall that said, "Please throw garbage at the trash can!" OK then!

After the procedure, the technician took a look at the results and said it was a nice x-ray. I refrained from looking at it because looking at x-rays reminds me of my most embarrassing moment.

I took the x-ray back to the doctor and he said I had not, in fact, unwittingly broken a rib. I guess I just pulled a muscle. I know that is very anticlimactic, but there it is. The pain is slowly ebbing away and I'm almost feeling as good as new now.

I'm not glad this happened, but I am glad I know more about the local hospital now - where it is, where to park, which confusing turn-offs to take. If anything ever starts burrowing out of my lungs through my left arm in the middle of the night again, I'll know just where to go.


Liz Johnson said...

WOW, I'm really glad you weren't having a heart attack or anything terrible like that. And I took all sorts of drugs growing up that weren't approved in the US! Does that make you feel better or worse? :)

(p.s. Turns out we're not related. I checked on the Relative Finder app on facebook. Ha.)

Crys said...

Glad something isn't crawling out of your body! Crazy that a pulled muscle could cause all that discomfort!

Ariana said...

I had some crazy back pain my freshman year at BYU.... turned out to be totally muscular. I blame it on the super uncomfortable chairs at BYU (I'm only 5' tall, and can't reach my feet to the floor unless I sit forward on their chairs, thus no back support). Anyways. I ended up taking Aleve for a little while, plus some stretching and a little strength training. And some ultrasound therapy and massage (ahhhh!). 6 weeks of that twice a week and I was completely fine. Haven't had problems since. Silly muscles.


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