Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time to change tune

I have had sore throat and cough for more than a month. It's the longest that I've been coughing persistently since childhood [when I coughed over 3+ months, and I suspect, resulting in asthma]. Over the past 5 weeks and 6 trips to my hospital's A&E, my diagnosis has changed from:
  1. URTI, to
  2. URTI with Eye Infection, to
  3. ?Sinusitis, to
  4. Rhinitis [after Sinus-XR ruled out sinusitis], to
  5. Acute Bronchitis, to
  6. Acute Bronchitis with Asthma.
After 3 rounds of antibiotics [Augmentin, Ciprofloxacin, Zinnat], switching between cough suppressant and expectorant, loads of mucolytic and lozenges, some painkillers and Sofradex eyedrops, I am still having chesty phlegmy cough on-and-off, resulting in persistent sore throat and an attack of bronchospasm (on my 1st night-duty, self-diagnosed based on pain radiating from right sternum to the right middle lobe of lung). Yet, over the 5 weeks, I have been given only 1 + 2 + 2 = total 5 days of sick leave. Knowing the hospital's HR policy and culture, the resident doctors are reluctant to give any more than 2 days of MC each time. I wonder how it can be cost effective for the hospital not to give staff a week's sick leave to fully recover from illness. I know I'm not the only one returning back to work just as my health improved slightly, only to get worse. SSN Y also only got 2 days MC and returned to work with a hoarse throat. Similarly for my ward manager.

Given the hospital's severe shortage of nursing staff [and now even the resident doctors], the message I get from its actual operations is that staff's health can take a back seat to reaping in the profits, regardless of whatever management or its policies state. In fact, down the line of hierarchy, someone somewhere would re-interpret the policies to suit their vested interests.
E.g. There was a recent incident where we had an physically+verbally abusive 7 year-old girl with brain tumour and her equally verbally abusive mother. Despite what the DON said to me about taking staff abuse (physical or verbal) seriously, my ward manager's response [my guess is to keep her own image that she runs her ship well] combined with the other staff unwillingness to report the abuse they suffered [despite widespread complaints amongst staff and, I heard, even on Facebook over this patient], resulted in me being the only person to log an incident report. You can guess where the blame goes to from there.
I decided that it's time to change my tune. As people who meditate would attest to, the mind is like a magnet which draws into one's life whatever one focuses one's energy/attention on.
E.g. The ward manager was returning from a long annual leave and had a double shift on her 1st day back to work. Given my non-optimal health condition and the ward's chaos [yes, it's still chaotic after 1.5 months since the new rooms opened], I hoped that I would not have to work with the ward manager in-charge on her 1st day back [IMHO, my ward manager has a Type-A personality.]. Just before the end of my 2 days MC, SSN Y called asking me to be the only SN in-charge of 3 days of night shift, because several of my (S)SN colleagues are on sick leave as well. Thus, I got what I wanted, since the ward manager is not on night-duty. [In fact, 5 of 8 day-shift SN/SSNs have taken sick leave since the new rooms were opened.]
I am spending more of my time-off researching about my future home, enjoying my small collections of various stuff [which I would have to pack for shipment], planning my finances for relocation, reflecting on and getting tickled by simple serendipity in life.
  • E.g. There was a day when I got ~666 and 088 in my queue number at 2 different service counters.
  • E.g. At an ATM queue standing behind a lady (probably grandmother) of a toddler (approximately 1 year old). The toddler dropped the brochure that she was holding and I picked it up for her. She repeated, I picked it up again, but putting it on her stroller beyond her reach this time. I stood observing the girl, she is so beautiful. As they were about to leave, the toddler turned around and sent me a flying kiss. Her grandmother remarked, "You are so lucky, she doesn't do it to just anyone, not even for me!"
  • E.g. Looking a my list of diagnosis above also brings a chuckle.
Yes, I am sick of ranting. Time to change my tune for now, until I get sick of being chirpy, ha ha.


  1. Hello
    If I had to hazard a guess....and assumning that youve been cleared for TB and HN... I would say that you had a viral URTI (which can typically ,commonly last for up to 5 weeks...particularly the cough) and that you got a secondary ,superimposed (because your immune system was just washed out) bacterial chest infection.The problem with multiple antibiotics is that each one does to some extent depress your immune system.
    Anyway..take care

  2. Hi Mal Practice,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    I did not have any tests done other than Sinus-XR to exclude sinusitis. On the 1st 3 doctor's consultations, the doctors auscultated my lungs and cleared me for chest infection. Not sure what HN is, but I guess TB is ruled out based on the auscultations. If HN refers to H1N1, the doctor at the 1st consultation suspected it, but did not order for a Flu swab test or a Respiratory Virus test or a H1N1 PCR because I would get 1 week's MC if found to be Flu A or H1N1 positive. We were very tight on trained nurses during that time (since the new private rooms were opened).

    Given that I have a surprising tolerance to illness and ability to suppress symptoms (see url below) while at work, I guess the doctors think that I'm not in such a bad shape afterall.

    The doctor at my last consultation came to the same conclusion as you. Thus, he did not order any new medications for me, just to continue with my asthma MDIs (Ventolin and Seretide). Upon my requests, he prescribed more lozenges for symptomatic treatment of the sore throat.

    Anyway, I am slowly feeling (and feeding) better. The prolonged illness has worn me out. My admin colleague innocently asked if I was applying eye-shadow on my lower eyelids (for the gothic look perhaps). I told her, nope that's the natural eye-shadow thanks to the prolonged cough. Ha ha.