No Rewards For Dying On The Job

This is a picture of my chest x-ray taken on June 13.

Chest X-Ray

This is not a normal chest x-ray. On the right side you can see that there are some ‘streaks’ going down. All this is showing is that I have a right lower lobe pneumonia.


Last week’s post was about how terrible of a patient I am, and here I am one week later still sick…

Last week I started having intense right sided chest pain that inhibited my ability to move and exist really, so I dragged one of my closest friends with me to a private hospital, here in Kingston and got treated for what we thought was the cause. Those medications did not help at all, at this point, I was worried. I wasn’t coughing as much or at all really. Just a few terrible bouts here and there, but the pain was not giving up! So I went to the University Hospital in the morning.

I got written up for a chest x-ray and they sent be back to the accident and emergency department with it in hand. The first thing I did was put it on the viewing box and read it. I ignored the problems with rotation and penetration on the x-ray because the problem I was having was glaringly obvious!

The medicine doctor who treated me wondered how I wasn’t hypoxic (not being able to maintain my oxygen levels) and feverish. How all I complained about was this pleuritic pain (a sharp stabbing pain that I felt whenever I moved or breathed). He put me on a course of levofloxacin (a major step up from the Augmentin I was on before) and another cough syrup. He asked that I look out for fever and hypoxia or just come back if I wasn’t getting better.

I shared all of this with my consultant, a wonderful, motherly woman and when she saw it she laughed a little and said

“there is no reward for dying on the job”.

And you know what, that is so true, all the time on twitter we discuss how quickly persons are replaced after leaving or god forbid dying. Yet, there are so many medical students, doctors, nurses and others in the fraternity that still turn up to work sick. I’m not sure if it’s because we put the job before our own health or if there are no real avenues put in place for us to take some time off because of illness. I really don’t know.

What I do know, is that I struggled and pushed myself to still go to school during the latter part of my illness because it was something I thought I needed to do. What I have learnt from this whole ordeal, is that when I’m sick I need to be on top of it. All this started from a little cough I got from a head cold, which I thought would go away on its own.

I am not invincible, all my disdain for being a patient will have to be left at the door the next time I’m sick. From now on, any little bad feeling is a visit to the doctors!

It is at this point that I want to say a few thank you’s. Big ups to someone I can now consider my adopted dad, he has been very fatherly to me, my mom has been a trooper annoying me with her calls of concern, when I set out specifically not to worry her, and my biggest thanks goes out to one of my closest friends who actively encouraged me to seek help and was with me at every moment.

Gentlepeople, there is nothing worth more than your health and your life. Everything else can wait.

Samantha C. Johnson

1 Comment

  1. […] Being in Medical School doesn’t make me much different from anyone else when it comes to health seeking behaviours- sometimes I will try to solve the problem on my own and avoid going to the doctor. The truth is I’m scared of doctors and hospitals and so on. Which is why I focus so much energy on encouraging persons not to be and to seek out medical help- because I know first AND second-hand that waiting until things are really bad to get help never helps anyone and makes it worse on you. Remember this? […]

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