Monday, October 11, 2010

Welcome to the Phlegm Factory

I'm having an absolutely miserable time with allergies, despite taking multiple OTC medications. I'm wondering if I should give in and go to see an allergist, although they've never been terribly helpful to me before. Aaaargh! The weather's changing, so I hope that will help. This not-being-able-to-breathe thing is really annoying.

This weekend's hospital shift was unusually stressful, with two especially poignant psych cases. One was very grateful for my company; the other warmed up after initial hostility, but everything I tried to do to help only made the patient feel worse, which landed us back in hostility again. I'm well aware that this was a function of the patient's illness, not my efforts, but it's heartbreaking to see someone whose misery and terror are so well defended and deeply entrenched that any attempt to alleviate them just intensifies them instead. Most painful of all, the patient was in the ER for non-psych issues, and was being released; we had no way to address or treat the psych symptoms, although everyone but the patient was aware of them.

Awful. The situation was as literal a depiction of hell as I've ever seen, a darkness no light could penetrate, because all our puny flashlight beams were deflected by neurochemical forcefields. I'm not sure even God could get through that barrier, although I'll keep praying for a miracle.

All I managed to do, after much effort, was to give the patient a soda. "I can only drink X or Y," the patient told me fretfully, and neither X nor Y were available in our small fridge with its tiny cans of soda-for-patients. So I grabbed a few bucks from my purse and bought a bottle of the Right Soda from the cafeteria. I've never done that before, and of course the patient expressed no gratitude -- I didn't expect any -- but the gesture left me feeling a tiny bit less shredded. Maybe I was being manipulated (although the patient didn't know about my $1.35 expenditure), but so what? If the only thing you can do is give someone a soda, that's what you do, and hope that it produces even a molecule of pleasure in the moment.

In other cheery news, today's the six-month anniversary of my mother's death.

On the bright side, we went to a lovely dinner party this weekend.

Okay, gotta blow my nose again and get some more grading done. Happy Monday, everyone.


  1. my daughter gets a remedy from the homeopathic store I believe it is a Dr Reckowitz (spelling) I'm afraid I spelled it like it sounds. At any rate, it really works for her.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  2. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Have you tried acupuncture for the allergies? In my case, it didn't work immediately, but over time it's helped immensely. I go once a month. Now, in the rare instances I have an attack, it's much less intense.

    Jeff P.

  3. You probably don't feel like it at the moment, but you are an inspiration Susan.

    Here in Oz, we're mourning the loss of one of our brightest and best. Perhaps this performance of hers will be some consolation for you.

    Hugs, Di

  4. Eat local honey, untreated. May not help, but tasted so good you forget the sinuses!

  5. Anonymous4:56 AM

    Dear Susan,

    The allergies sound awful - I hope you're feeling at least a bit better today.

    I think it is great that you work with all the patients in the ER, not just the easy ones. I'm sorry this latest one was so hard.

    I hope life gets easier for you - and for this particular patient too. God is bigger than we are - I have hope that somehow there can and will be light even in the deep darkness that you wrote about this week-end.



  6. On a brighter side, you might find this article cheering (in the event that you don't already know about it):


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