“You sound worse than I do,” my patient said to me this morning.
“How about we draw straws to see who gets seen at the ED first,” I said.
My cough is actually improved from a week ago. My preceptee was treating a lady with chest pain who had a deep rattling cough. I was sitting in the captain’s chair and every time the lady coughed, I responded in an eerie EMS version of “Dueling Banjos.” I’d replicate her cough and then do a variation on it that she would try to match, but then I’d out cough her again.
I’m actually hoping I have turned the corner. A few days ago, after five weeks with the cough, I finally went to the doctor and was put on antibiotics and given some Tessalon Perles.
My room air SAT is back to 99% after a recent dip to 94-95% and not just 94-95% one time, but 94-95 % on our three pulse oximeters and on every oximeter at every hospital triage station I could test.
This cough is an annual winter passage for me, but it seems to be getting worse each year. It starts in my head, then descends to my chest and like a nasty tenant, is a bitch to evict. The weather this season hasn’t helped. I thought I was over it a week back when we had a rare balmy day, then the next day it was back to cold and wet and my cough was back with a vengeance.
After awhile the coughing wears you out, particularly when it wakes you up at night. I was hoping to keep my physical fitness up through the winter, but have given up now. I just need to rest this out – rest this out while still working, although I did take two sick days in the last two week period from my 70% desk job. I actually find I get the most rest at my paramedic job, because here at least if I am not doing a call, I can rest. The desk job has me on the go and home – with three girls 2 years, 9, and 14 with all their activities – there is no easy rest there.
Last night when the town was quiet, sitting alone in the back of the ambulance, watching my ETCO2 wave form roll across the screen, and trying to blow vapor rings with the nebulizer, I knew quite assuredly that I was not alone. I knew that in other ambulance stations and in ambulances on street corners in other towns and cities across this country and perhaps even the globe, other medics and EMTs were doing the same as I was, sucking in some Albuterol, getting the medicine down into our lungs so we could breathe a little easier, so we could, as Bob Dylan sang, “keep on keeping on.”
Ah, to see Spring.
Unfortunately, this had been an annual topic.