Talking Tuesday: Talking Ebola and Other Things With My Wife

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The last Talking Tuesday that I did with my wife was a big hit. Five or six more people listened to it than the other podcasts. So I thought that I’d bring her back for one more Talking Tuesday, this time recorded while we drove from Philadelphia to Baltimore. It’s about 20 minutes of her and I bantering about Ebola, HPV, and other public health shenanigans.

Enjoy.

You can download the whole thing by clicking here.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

5 thoughts on “Talking Tuesday: Talking Ebola and Other Things With My Wife

  1. Well, on a positive side, “Have you traveled abroad” can come in handy for the more common diseases about, in particular, tropical or even early malaria.

    Now, right after the index case was announced as being ill, I asked my RN daughter if she was ready for her potential first Ebola case.
    The room went silent, I swear, the temperature dropped to near freezing.
    She then admitted to not always practice universal precautions. She made excuses about working ungloved near the IV hub, to which I rather felt, big deal. In the field, I didn’t glove up to adjust the flow rate on an IV.
    Then, she spoiled it by admitting working around a venipuncture site ungloved. Well, she faltered off admitting she desires to improve toward best practices… Under the withering gaze of an old Army NCO. I simply told her, the best way to improve is to actually *do* what you’re *supposed* to do, with some profanity lacing the counseling.
    Other than protecting oneself from whatever a patient may have, one is, when practicing proper universal precautions, preventing nosocomial infections.
    For, there is a reason I intentionally mis-speak staph infection as *staff* infection.
    To be honest, she shocked me. She told me about how scabies spread like wildfire among the residents of a home she began her career in and how some staff members contracted the mite infestation. I’ll not even go into norovirus infections that sweep through medical treatment facilities…

    Medical professionals, please, please, please, wash your hands, dammit! Twice, I chased a physician away from me until said professional washed his lunch hooks. More, nursing staff.

    Now, a bit of personal Hx.
    For the past three years, I’ve had zero medical care. Couldn’t afford it on a budget of zero. I wasn’t about to deprive my diabetic wife of food, just to see a physician once per month. Our local clinics are overflowed and underfunded. So, nothing for me.
    My Hx is, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (triglycerides are, erm, lordly), family Hx of cancer, vascular disease (stroke and coronary, largely coronary), diabetes (I’m an exception in the family, as I’m over 50 and not diabetic, but I also am watching my weight (whenever I look down)), some suggestions of rheumatoid issues and osteoarthritis. I added it, in detail, on the medical Hx form, as well as an honest cigarette consumption, caffeine consumption and alcohol consumption (we’ll suffice it to say, it’s lordly, as my tolerance for CNS depressants is legendary). I did forget to add a heat stroke, but mentioned it when doctor was speaking with me, quite early on, as I noted foamy urine after a heat stroke and labstix showed the unwanted, but expected protein and I noted PVC’s and QT stretching that did not exist before the heat stroke.
    I’m lucky, it could’ve fried my liver, kidneys and brain. So, a bit of kidney, a bit of heart, who knows what of brain is a good trade-off over sloppiness in not bringing water while driving to the base in a Persian Gulf summer with broken air conditioning (there were no air conditioned showrooms to wait in, you’d wait in the heat for the air conditioner to be fixed, so since fall was coming, I elected to wait until it cooled to a hundred degrees.
    Regrettably, I got sloppy and forgot to bring water, for the first time in five years.
    Well, I repeatedly mentioned hypertension. The technician took my blood pressure and froze, looking confused and alarmed. I calmly asked her, “don’t worry, *what* did you get?” 184/114 was the sheepish reply.
    I replied, that sounds about right, which was the primary reason for my visit.
    Doctor had recoiled at the reading.
    She refuses to prescribe and honestly, rightfully so, my mixture calcium channel blocker and ACE inhibitor. The pre-existing kidney damage, plus that long stretch of three years of hypertension could have exasperated the kidney damage, causing problems with drug retention.
    I have lab paperwork for a cheap lab, as I still have no heath insurance. Due to Pennsylvania being barbarians, my price for health insurance is a measly $1500 per month for myself and my *much* sicker wife. The only way to pay for that is to live in an appliance box.
    Leaving me with awaiting next week, as I spent our available money on something new, rather than our medications, but in paying the county to appoint me executor of my father’s estate. He died at the end of July.
    So, hopefully, no new additional expenses will arrive (and my car is making *really* loud road noise and has bald tires) in my drive to Newark every day and back *and* I have a check engine light that came on yesterday.
    Still, I’ve been poor as hell before, I’m making $32/per hour now, which is low, but I was forced to take a junior position after such a long break in employment in a rather fast moving sub-sub-sub field of IT. I’ve already been repeatedly lauded on my knowledge, so advancement is inevitable (a strange conversation suggested thoughts of introducing me into the management chain, in a company program).
    So, I’ll speak from personal experience.
    Six thousand dollars is damned near six million dollars to those at the bottom of our economic food chain.

    Oh, for some spice, I’ve not informed doctor, save for brief mention in the Hx on the form, L4-L5 herniation and C4-C5, which induced radiculopathy of a mild-moderate nature, previously being mild.
    The drug previously prescribed and preferred was Codeine. But, ethanol works for now to prevent my awakening in the middle of the night screaming from a sudden pain.
    And well, I also recall my previous physician expressing concern over prescribing opioids for any reason, due to DEA actions against an oncologist, which quite literally shuttered his practice and abandoned hundreds of patients for several months, then all records were released back and patients could receive care from the physician they well knew.
    I’ll add a side note that is unrelated, but… Fun, from my own perspective and any chronic pain sufferer.
    One Private noted me taking a tablet and being an inquisitive Private that was a medic of mine, indeed, my subordinate, inquired as to what I was taking.
    I replied “Tylenol-3″ for my back and neck nerve damage”.
    He snotted off, “Pain builds character”. I immediately kicked him in the shin, then asked him to stand still, as I wasn’t done building his character.
    His initial complaint was to my immediate superior, who wasn’t very sympathetic, as he knew quite well what I am capable of, courtesy of my personnel record that he had clearance and need to know to read.
    Hence, the complaint was given a reason to dismiss.
    He then went to the Battalion Command Sergeant Major, who also had suggestions of my previous career. He also took into consideration the remarkable lack of respect for my rank, achievements and well, the kid being an idiot of the 33rd degree and quite literally laughed him out of his office.
    I suggested the one who had access to my full career give an unclassified excerpt.
    Private cage match shut up and treated me with guarded respect, looking for a chink that was never to be found.
    I did manage to teach him to navigate tolerably, via sun and map, compass and map and via GPS.
    My definition of tolerable is ten digit map coordinates, which puts one within ten meters of the target.
    Something I first demonstrated, *only* with a compass and map (no protractors are allowed).
    I usually accept a 100 meter solution.
    One meter resolution was achieved in cantonment, where I sat at the NCO club, outside at a table, when men were expected to arrive, with a pitcher of beer and one of my old duty knives as a prize.
    If you’re 100 meters off and can’t find me at an outside table, you are blind!

    Good night all. Have to hit the hay. Have to be at work at mid-afternoon. It’s likely that my next shift will be deadman shift. Not a biggie, as I learned, courtesy of some military experiences, how to adjust my body schedule quite quickly.

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    • You are what we call in the biz a “trainwreck.” It appalls me to know what youre going through with healthcare after having served the country. If it were up to me, and I hope some day it will be, all veterans would get free healthcare, no strings attached. You could go to any practitioner and just get what you need and done. You and your family.

      As for not using universal precautions… Yeah, im guilty of that, too. It’s complacency mixed with being rushed to do ten things at once. But I do wash my hands, especially when I get blood all over them.

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      • I’d go one better, *everyone* would have full universal healthcare. I’ve lived in nations with it, they are a lot healthier and happier than we are.
        As for train wreck, you should see my wife. Poorly controlled, newly diagnosed diabetes, osteoporosis, herniated discs for starters. It’s likely she has lupus as well, she did come up hot on rheumatoid factor, no bucks for lab work to prove lupus yet, but symptoms match.
        A guy I work with is worse, since age 39 he’s had a implanted defib/pacer, which malfunctioned twice and a med list close to what my father had.

        Years ago, we didn’t practice universal precautions. That was before it was realized and that knowledge promulgated, the risks of blood borne infections. It’s a miracle that I never contracted anything, as I’ve literally had blood on me covering my hands and forearms.
        Since, I’ve only had soldier’s blood on me, all of whom were tested for the most common infections and if “hot”, they’re non-deployable. On the civilian side, I’ve avoided contact when happening on an accident.

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