50k for awareness/NaNoWriMo – it’s complicated

‘Well you have been in the wars!’  Announced Dr Caldwell as he looked over her recent notes 2 days after her emergency visit.  ‘I understand you saw Dr Harman last week and this week you had a visit to Northside emergency department, what happened there?’  Sarah described her episode of dizziness and other symptoms and subsequent visit to the emergency department in detail.  Dr Caldwell nodded and exclaimed throughout.  ‘Well now, that would have been frustrating.  And what does your mother say about all this?’
‘She told me she actually has a couple of patients who have had the same thing recently and has heard of others, there seems to be a virus going around but that stupid doctor was so convinced it was anything other than something he’d actually have to bother himself with there was really no point in my being there.’
‘That is interesting, I have also heard of something similar going around so that might just be it.  And of course you’ve been so unwell lately and have a tendency to be susceptible to things I guess it’s not really unexpected that something else would come along.  It’s irritating nonetheless!  And how is Dr Simmonds going with your immune function testing?’  Sarah brought him up to date on the progress of her newest round of tests and scans that the immunologist had ordered.  ‘So he thinks it is quite likely that your recurrent sinus infections are the result of this deficiency in Immunoglobulin levels?  Interesting!  I guess that would explain it quite well and it would be great to be finally getting somewhere.’
‘It certainly would’ Sarah sighed, ‘it’s just so frustrating having no answers but all the evidence that there is something going on that’s not right!  Unfortunately there’s so much protocol in place for this test because the only treatment for this type of immune deficiency is an infusion of gammaglobulin, which is a human blood product and has to be released from the blood bank.  They can’t synthesise it like they can with some hormones.’
‘Yes of course, and then you have to consider the risks of having a transfusion of human blood products, there is always the possibility that there are things out there that we don’t have the technology to detect yet – I mean look what has happened in the past with CJD, hepatitis and AIDS.  It’s a tough decision, have you thought much about it?’
‘I have a bit’ she replied slowly, ‘I don’t know, I feel I’m prepared to try almost anything so I can get my life back.  It’s been 7 years now and this is the only real lead we’ve gotten.  I know it won’t solve everything but if it can just stop me from getting these infections all the time that throw any improvement back in my face it would be worth it.’  She sighed ‘and yes, I am aware of the dangers, I studied virology as part of my degree before I did nursing.’

‘Talk me through the process Sarah’ Dr Caldwell asked, ‘where are you up to and what is left to do?’  She took a deep breath.
‘Well, The first step is the initial blood test to see if the results are significant enough to warrant further investigation, the results of that can take up to a month to come back because it is only ever done when there are enough samples to warrant it and not many people have this test.  When my results came back there were two sub-types of Immunoglobulin G that I am deficient in and they are the ones that are often found to be deficient in people with recurrent infections.  The second step is a long-term course of antibiotics – 6 months, which I have 2 more months to go on.  After that, if there are still infections despite the antibiotics there is a vaccination.  Then 4 weeks after the vaccination, after your body has had time to build up antibodies to it, there is another one of those month-long blood tests and if the results are significant I then have to wait for the blood bank to approve the release of the immunoglobulin infusion.  If they do, I then have to have it every month or so for a year or longer at around a grand a pop!’
‘Wow’ he said quietly, ‘that is a lot to take in’
‘Ha!’ she laughed bitterly, ‘you’re telling me!  And this is why I desperately need to keep my job.  Dr Harman’s medical certificate was inadequate, it did not contain the information my employer required and it was slightly insulting to boot.’
‘Oh dear!’ he exclaimed, ‘well he did insist on writing them himself’, did the appointment go well otherwise?’
‘Let me just say Dr Harman and I will never see eye to eye on anything I don’t think!’  She grinned
‘Oh dear me!  Well let’s get this sorted and then it’s one less thing you have to worry about!  The certificate I gave you last time allowed you to reduce your fortnightly shifts from 9 to 7, lets bring it down to 5 and include a bit about those late-early shift combinations that seem to affect your health so much.  Hopefully whoever is doing your rosters will take note of that and you’ll be able to work to the end of your contract in a few months and then hopefully you’ll have picked up enough to either get it renewed or find something else.’
‘Sounds great Dr Caldwell, and what is even more great is that in a few days I get to go on a cruise holiday with a bunch of friends to some sunny and gorgeous islands in the pacific!  Pete can’t come but we’re going to have a fantastic time anyway.  My contract expires two weeks after I return but for a week at least I get to forget about it!’

She left the doctors clinic feeling more positive about her situation than she had for months but it didn’t last very long.  She was able to fax her medical certificate in to work but had to take more days off to recover from the virus she had come down with.  It took nearly 2 weeks for the dizziness and fatigue to reduce to a level that meant she was able to work again.  The new roster was faxed to her and the first thing she noticed was that out of the 5 shifts she now had in the next coming fortnight four of them were a pm-am shift combination – something that Dr Caldwell had specifically requested against in her certificate.  She was filled with disappointment and a growing sense that her contract was not likely to be renewed after all.

Needing some support and constructive advice she attempted to talk it over with Pete;  ‘you know how I feel about all of this Sares.’  He replied with a sigh, ‘I hate it; I hate how our lives have changed, how it makes us feel, how it dictates what we can and can’t do.  I can’t stand it.  We used to go out and have fun, hell, we used to BE fun!  Now we’re lucky if we get out once a month and you’re always too tired or whatever to stay long whenever we do anyway!’
‘Yeah thanks Pete, that’s actually not what I was talking about but hey, thanks for your support anyway.’  She snapped and walked off.

He found her in their slightly overgrown garden, sitting on the picnic table.  ‘I’m sorry’ he sat down beside her ‘I am, I just don’t know how much more of it I can take.’  Tears sprang to her eyes and she turned her head away from him so he couldn’t see.
‘You don’t have to take it; you don’t have to take anything!  You don’t have to wake up every day feeling like you need about a thousand hours more sleep, you don’t have to struggle every minute just to remain upright, you don’t have to eat tonnes of sugar and caffeine just because it might possibly compensate ever so slightly for the energy or concentration that you’re lacking and you don’t have to watch your 20’s, supposedly the best years of your life, pass you by without being able to do a thing about it.  You can go out, I’m not stopping you.  You don’t have to stay here all the time just because you feel sorry for me; you know how much I hate that.  I’m not some wounded bird that needs wrapping in cotton wool, I have an illness, it affects my life and what I can do with it but I’m not broken Pete, and I have a mother, you don’t need to do that!  Just because I can’t do things doesn’t mean you don’t have to.  How many times do I have to tell you that?  I know it’s hard for you too Pete but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your life too!’  She looked into his eyes.
‘Yeah I know’ he looked at his hands ‘I want to share it with you, you know?  You’re my girl.  You’re smart, funny and beautiful and I want the world to see that, it kills me to see you locked up in the house, a prisoner to your own body.  I want to help you, to take it all away.  You were sick when we met but I didn’t care.  Your courage touched my heart, you’re so special and amazing and yeah, I did feel a bit sorry for you and I could see you needed help too, help I was more than happy to give you.  But Sarah, even though I love you so much I don’t know how much more I can give.’
‘Does that mean you are just here because you feel sorry for me.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous!’  He snapped ‘you’re such a martyr, all the time, it drives me crazy!’  He jumped up from the table ‘look, you’re going away on that cruise tomorrow, I think that’s great, it’ll give us both some time to think.  In fact I might head over to my brothers place tonight and stay there for a few days too.  There’s a game on this evening and he’s having a few mates over for drinks and a barbeque.  It’ll be good to get out, this house is stifling.’  And with that he stormed inside.  She could hear him stomping around the house and 5 minutes later the front door slammed.  It was then she realised she hadn’t tried to stop him.


I’ve been a bit slack with my writing over the last few days so really have to step up the pace…
Hope you enjoyed the latest instalment!


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