...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Find me a funnel collar

cluckity, cluck, cluck!

There hasn't been any sit-ups for the past two days, and no spinning either. Just days after I wrote about my new fitness program, I unexpectedly had an encounter with the Swedish health service. What they (and I) thought was just a bad allergy – I had a mystery allergy that made my eyes close shut a year ago – was actually chicken pox!

Strange that I didn't suspect what it was at first. Neither did I have any chance of confirming what it was until today. In Sweden, you see, you never just turn up to see a doctor without an appointment. Nurses from the phone-in medical service decide weather your condition sounds serious enough or not, to give priority to those who need immediate help and so that you don't go to the doctor unnecessarily. This is good on the one hand. With private medical care (in my experience anyway), you not only pay per pop but also get prescriptions for medicines you're not sure you need but med reps had greased the doctor to recommend. As a kid, I got antibiotics for almost everything that I doubt if any will work on me now. On the other hand, I sometimes feel that the nurses in the Swedish call-in medical service can tend to underestimate your illness if you don't sound worried enough or don't exaggerate your symptoms a bit.

So I guess I didn't sound worried when I called them yesterday. Also, my spots didn't have water yet, so the nurse assumed, after my description, that my spots were an allergy. I was assured that they were rarely something one sees the doctor about, but that I should go directly to the emergency room when my lips start to swell and have trouble breathing. In the meantime, I surfed the internet for possible causes of red spots (hives? fleas? herpes zostra?). The antihistamines I was recommended worked only slightly for the itch, and the spots multiplied over the evening, some of them getting water.

Until they got watery, I thought all along that I already had chicken pox in my youth – though admittedly just one or two, directly after recovering from another disease. I wanted to make sure what it was I had, so I called the service again today with a more panicky voice, taking note to emphasize the words "chicken pox" so they would book me for an appointment. I got it of course, but I got to wait in a separate room so I wouldn't infect the mommies and children there. I got prescribed medicine that I should take 5 times a day. Apparently, when you get chicken pox after 20, there could be risks for other serious infections. Sigh.

Don't worry mom, I promise not to scratch my face!


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