Six years ago I borrowed a filter face mask from a detention officer in an attempt to lessen the effects of the thirty gallons of OC spray which had been pumped in on the somewhat … rambunctious … occupant of a segregation cell prior to our going in and interrupting his anti-social activities.

Had I known — at the time — that the officer from whom I borrowed said face mask had a romping case of chicken pox … well, I probably would have put up with the pepper spray.

Up until that winter day I had never had chicken pox. My father had caught it twice as an adult, and his descriptions of those experiences had instilled in me a fervent desire to keep my fuzzy non-juvenile butt as far away from it as humanly possible.

Unfortunately, as we have steadfastly maintained here at The LawDog Files, Old Man Murphy hates my guts. Personally.

Ten to twenty days later, I spend four days in the hospital. Journal entry around that time reads:

“Advice for further consideration: If you’re going to pass out in a hospital, do not choose the hospital located in your Nana’s hometown.

If you can not accomplish the above, do not pass out in the hall outside Reception, ER, Outpatient Clinic, Patient Services, and/or Billing.

If following the previous guidelines are right out, endeavour not to hit the deck face-first.

And last, but certainly not least, should you feel it necessary to do the above events, do not fail to wear your own pajamas.

Side note: Skimpy, draft-butted, open-backed, hospital gowns are the Tool of De Debbil and are Never To Be Worn. Ever. Again.

Yes, children, the Dog has managed to moon half the congregation of the First Baptist Church, the Pastor, two Little Sisters of Charity, Nana’s oldest best-friend, and most of the offensive line of the local High School Girl’s Volleyball Team. And their mascot.

Gawd. Take me now.”


One of the highlights of that little experience was my doctor holding up a set of my chest x-rays, watching both of her eyebrows shoot up into her hairline, and her saying, “Hmph.”

Long pause.

“Chest x-ray once a year from now on. Maybe twice.”

Since then, any type of bug that I get inevitably winds up taking a sabbatical in my lungs. Head cold? Pneumonia. Ear infection? Double pneumonia. Hell, my last bout with Plain Olde Sinusitis wound up with the bugs trying to pull a Rorke’s Drift off in the old air box.

So, last weeks mild case of food poisoning?

Okay, bad, bad mental image, but, yes, hello, hacking cough and welcome, Levofloxacin.


But, I’m better today.


Charity raffle

36 thoughts on “Yack”

  1. Gotta love them steenkeenk hospital gowns…

    And, Dog, I hear ya on the annual pneumonia. ‘Cept’n I get mine in the summer…

  2. Are you now, or have you ever been an inhaler of burning weeds? or perhaps had TB? That would explain the chest x-ray results….

  3. Nope to the burning weeds — of any variety — and nope to the TB.

    Apparently the chicken pox really, really liked my lungs.

  4. You should have just sucked it up and taken it as a kid. I’ve been told that chickenpox is worse the older you get…

    The worst part about my pox fun was some of the pox was on the more precious parts of my anatomy. THAT is painful. There is not enough calamine lotion in the world…

    Hope you don’t follow in the footsteps of your father and get it twice. That’s just cruel.

  5. Oh Gods and Goddesses, I feel for you. I got out of the hospital a couple days ago. I swear that they ran every test known to man or beast and I got stuck so many times that some voodoo doll in Louisiana has dropped dead.

    Being in law enforcement, you get exposed to all sorts of nasty bugs and chemicals.

    The good thing about chicken pox is that one does recover from them. My sister had them in her lungs when she had them as a child and has survived to an ornery 40+ year old woman. Give yourself time to heal.

  6. As a navy corpsman I was involved with the care of a thirty or so year or lady who died from pneumonia due to smallpox (varicella pneumonia). Serious stuff and more likely in adults. Those pustules in your lungs don’t let much oxygen get to where it is needed.


  7. Kai,

    I assume you sister is alive, because surviving to 40+ is not much of a positive note otherwise. BTDT.


    Variola is smallpox, varicella is chicken pox. I am assuming (twice in one comment, this had better not become a habit for me) that you meant chicken pox.

    I hope that medical science has progressed to the point where they can prevent Lawdog from developing pneumonia, of any kind. Maybe even find a way for him to keep his clothes on in front of the girls volleyball team and the rest of the various impressionable people he seems to seek out when lightheaded. 🙂

  8. Ah, poor lamb!

    So the maxim of “always wear clean underwear” should actually be “always wear a clean birthday suit?”

  9. Oh Lord Dog! I feel your pain. I got to call my Chief when I was 35 and explain to him exactly why I needed ten days off for Chicken Pox. In my case my kids brought it home from school. It didn’t put my ass on display but it certainly did kick it!

  10. LD, didn’t anyone ever tell you to demand TWO gowns? Wear one as required. The second becomes your “bathrobe”. That was one of the first things the child-birth educator at the Navy Hospital told us some 13 years ago.

    Sounds like that little emergency bag in your trunk (that we all should have…) should contain some pajama pants (along with the standard tooth brush, OTC pain meds, and change of clothing).

    Good to hear you are doing better. Ask your regular doc if the adult varicella vaccine is something you might need down the road. My mother (she of the over 60 crowd) reports she just got hers last week.

    Gee, LD, now I’m happy I had a virus last week. Y’all be blessed.

  11. I’ve had chicken Pox twice. The second time was as shingles across the left side of my face, forehead and scalp. Couldn’t see out of my left eye for a week until the swelling went down.

    Nasty stuff. Caught it from my daughter. She brought it home from school. We seriously thought about home-schooling after that.

  12. Interesting how many people haven’t had it until they’re adults. When I was a kid, any time a kid got something like measles, chicken pox, or mumps, the parents deliberately got their kids exposed to it so they wouldn’t get it as adults. I had all of those as a small child, and they didn’t leave any lasting effects. Had a friend who got mumps when he was 19, and he couldn’t even walk due to the swelling in his nether regions.

  13. Ben, Either you are one of the last of the medical professionals to have seen an actual case of smallpox, or you worked at Ft. Detrick which is unlikely if you were in the Navy.

  14. Ah, I see that Ben corrected himself, never mind that prior post.

    I’m rather concerned about the mandatory use of Chickenpox vaccines in kids. The vaccine only lasts about 10-15 years and I’m worried we will have an entire generation of adults getting chickenpox for the first time as an adult. I think we have traded a relatively minor childhood disease for a rather serious adult disease.

  15. While Mr. Murphy seems to have it in for you, may I suggest it may be better than if Mr. O’Toole was hunting your person? O’Toole’s corrollary to Murphy’s Law, “Murphy was an optimist.”
    Speedy recovery and luck in finding a way to keep illness from the airbox.

  16. Rorschach,

    I think that the manufacturers want you to get boosters every so often. The fatality rate has dropped dramatically since the introduction of the varicella vaccine. It is also supposed to be effective against shingles.

    Here are some good articles about the effectiveness of the varicella vaccine and vaccines in general. I think the full text links are free, but you might have to click through an advertisement to get to the JAMA (2nd article) full text.

    Decline in Mortality Due to Varicella after Implementation of Varicella Vaccination in the United States. 2005 NEJM. Abstract. Full text.

    Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States. 2007 JAMA. Abstract. Full text.

  17. Dude, I managed to catch the flu TWICE last winter… Different varieties… One was primarily puke until you die, and the other was, well, pretty much anti-respiratory… And since I was already weak, it was pneumonia time.

    Hint: When the head nurse on the floor walks in, and tells you “If you tell one of my people to bleep off and let you die in peace again, I’m going to take you at your word, and put you on the DNR list!” – well, that’s a Bad Thing.

    It seems that 3:00 a.m. is the optimal time for injections, blood draws, and blood pressure readings, regardless of whether or not the patient is sleep deprived.

  18. You don’t understand, bogie. The nursing peons are instructed by the head nurse to give the patient a sleeping pill around 9-10 pm. Then they are instructed by this self-same tyrant to go in and give the patients shots, blood tests, x-rays, and baths between 2 and 3 am., thus guaranteeing maximum discomfort and temper tantrums from the patient at the convenience of those who we are paying to do a job.
    When Dog had his wreck, the hospital actually had housekeeping-complete with bucket and mop-in to take vitals. No joke-really.
    Not guaranteed to instill confidence in your ability to survive.
    Then there’s today. Today, I was going to run out of my pills, so went to the drugstore to get them refilled. Couldn’t refill them because the doctor refused to re-prescribe until I’d seen him.
    Now, there’s a catch to all this. When the doctor prescribes, he doesn’t tell you or the pharmacy how long that prescription is for.
    However, the insurance will not pay on a prescription that is refilled more than five days before the prescription is out.
    So, with two days of pills left in the bottles, I trundled down to the drugstore.
    Druggist tells me I have to see the doctor before he’ll renew the prescription (rip-off, but there it is). I get home and call for an appointment.
    Here’s the catch: the doctor hasn’t an appointment available until the 23rd of this month, whereas I will run out of pills on the 7th.
    Know what the stupid, stupid clerk says, “Well, you should have called earlier.”
    Right. When I don’t know when the prescription runs out, or how long it’s good for and neither does the druggist until he calls and finds that the doctor is getting snarky for his $159 fee, and won’t even renew until I can get an appointment with him over two weeks later?
    Our medical and allied professions is just very, very scary.

  19. LawMom,

    On the container, it should state how many times it may be refilled. If it does not, ask the person filling the prescription. I have found them to be very helpful. OTOH, the doctor should have told you when you need to come back to get the prescription refilled.

  20. Rogue, my concern is one of compliance. Adults generally speaking do not get booster shots.

  21. Rorschach,

    That is a valid point. Adults do need to take responsibility for their own behavior. Saving about a hundred lives per year should be a reasonable trade off for a little responsibility.

  22. rogue medic-
    This is a small town and things run differently. When I refill my prescription, I take down the same bottle for months. There is no notification on the label because it’s always the same. They all say ‘call ahead for refills’ from day one, which the pharmacist does when I take the prescriptions in for a refill.
    Additionally, I checked with the pharmacist; there is no end date on the prescriptions: he just calls for a renewal each month.
    Yes, something needs to be done by the doctor to let the patient know approximately when the prescription isn’t going to be renewed-in other words, at least a month ahead. This is not presently being done.

  23. LawMom,

    I gotta ask. How small a town? My mother (81 last year) takes a vacation every year for a couple of months on an island, 30 miles at sea, with a pop of 10,000. Her prescriptions up there, look exactly the same as the ones she gets down in here in Texas. As in, it says how many days the scrip is for, etc.


  24. Look at it this way, LD….you got to moon a whole bunch of people and actually get away with it!

    Seriously, though, I understand about every little illness settling in the lungs. With asthma, that particular pair of combat boots is VERY familiar. NOT my idea of fun.

    Hope you can manage to stay healthy.

  25. When I was a kid, any time a kid got something like measles, chicken pox, or mumps, the parents deliberately got their kids exposed to it so they wouldn’t get it as adults.
    My mom tried that, putting me with a neighbor kid, never caught Chicken Pox…still haven’t had it. I shiver at the thought of getting struck by it at 40+.
    Glad you’re on the mend LD.

  26. My elderly country doctor seemed to think I should have been honored when he informed me that I had the worst case of chicken pox he’d seen in his many years of practice. I was nine and I just wanted the fricking itching to stop.

    It was all over my scalp (my hair was matted with oozing pustule drainage – lovely), in my ears, on my sclera and in my mouth and nasal passages going down into my lungs.

    When my son made it to the age of fifteen without contracting the pox, I drug his butt to the pediatrician for the vaccine.

    Now, the medical community says the immunity may fade and if he doesn’t revaccinate every ten years or so, he’s at risk for chicken pox as an adult. He’s now 21 and married and I’m leaving the state for a week if he comes down with it. I love him, but he’s a horrible patient.

  27. I’m so happy I got chickenpox when I was a kid. My sister got it as an adult and it made her usual angry disposition, even angrier.

    Condolences on the weak lungs Mr. Dog – I tend to get a nasty case of bronchitis every other year and 2009 is my year.

    Ky Person

  28. Hi Amy-
    About 2500. I have never taken a scrip to the drugstore that had the number of days, weeks, months on it. The drugstore calls it, and is told to refill or not to refull-that is the question.
    Most likely if your mother is going through Walgreen’s, Rexall, WalMart, or any of the chains, the duration of the prescription must be put on the scrip. It just isn’t here.
    And, while we’re talking about chicken pox. I don’t know if I’ve ever had it, and it’s dangerous to have the vaccine if you’ve already had chicken pox. So I might have something to look forward to.
    I had three bumps on my ankle that my mother said were infected chigger bites and my grandmother (doctor’s wife with 8+ children) said were chicken pox. Nana, who’s 101 years old in a couple of weeks, has never had it, despite being raised with about 15 kids who all had it, and teaching school from the time she was 15 until she was in her 60s. Think I don’t have a purple fuzzy everytime the aides at her assisted living bring their little bastards in to work?
    (You may have noticed that I am violently anti-children-on-the-job….any job)

  29. LawMom,

    There is no documentation of any risk from giving the vaccine to people already exposed to chicken pox. If that were the case, booster shots would cause problems, since these vaccinated people will already have the antibodies to chicken pox that people who naturally acquired chicken pox would have. The difference is that the vaccine does not last as long and apparently needs a booster at about 10 years.

    For prescriptions, all of the ones I see have written on them, “May be refilled __ times” or “May not be refilled,” not any mention of days, weeks, months, or any other time period. Unless it says “May not be refilled,” it should be refilled without need for a new prescription. You might ask the pharmacist how this is determined, since it appears to pop up automatically on the label and the receipt that comes with the medication. I rarely take medication, so I am just going by memory.

    As for the children on the job, I’ll run my coal mines the way I want to. 🙂

  30. LawMom,

    If you want to know if you’ve had chickenpox, ask your MD to draw blood for a titer. Insurance probably won’t cover it.

    A less expensive route would be to go ahead and get the vaccine. Insurance will cover it and if you have had chicken pox then no harm, no foul.

  31. In Texas, prescriptions can be written with a number of refills or simply “PRN” (when necessary).

    In either case, the prescription is only valid for one year from the date that it was written.

    (Single-handedly supporting my local Albertson/Osco Pharmacy.)

  32. Listen up, people. This is Hicksville, run by Boss Hogg, and his minions, including The Bitch who is director of the the clinic/hospital. They do things their way. There is no 'PRN,' no endgate on the prescription (I have had one for penicillen for about 5 years and NEVER had to renew it), nothing on the bottles, the info handout or at the drugstone that says how many times it can be refilled. They either say 'not to be refilled' or 'call ahead for refills.' Full stop. Period.
    Rogue medic-my dr at the time, granted, she's Filipino, said that if I'd already had chicken pox and took the vaccine, there was the danger of instant and severe shingles and possible brain damage.
    Scott & White doesn't appear to be inclined to disagree with her. But, good idea arkiern; wonder why no one-including self-thought of that before?

  33. LawMom,

    Hicksville or big city university medical center, really doesn't matter. There is professional and then there is everything else.

    You state "I have had one for penicillen for about 5 years and NEVER had to renew it." That is completely incompetent on the part of the doctor. Why would you listen to anyone who does such a thing?

    We need to start locking up doctors for the overuse of antibiotics. You need to get a real doctor. Once you have acquired the services of a real doctor, get a titer drawn to find out if you have any immunity.

    You write,

    "my dr at the time, granted, she's Filipino, said that if I'd already had chicken pox and took the vaccine, there was the danger of instant and severe shingles and possible brain damage."

    "Scott & White doesn't appear to be inclined to disagree with her."

    I don't know what her nationality has to do with it. All I could find on the Scott $ White site that even came close was:

    “Adolescents and adults who have never had chickenpox can also get the vaccine.”

    So, there is nothing there that agrees with what your doctor said. It does not state that adults with previous chicken pox infections should not get the vaccine.

    The product label from the FDA lists these contraindication (if you do not want to read through them, there is nothing about prior exposure to or infection with chicken pox):

    “A history of hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine, including gelatin.

    A history of anaphylactoid reaction to neomycin (each dose of reconstituted vaccine contains trace quantities of neomycin).

    Individuals with blood dyscrasias, leukemia, lymphomas of any type, or other malignant neoplasms affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic systems.

    Individuals receiving immunosuppressive therapy. Individuals who are on immunosuppressant drugs are more susceptible to infections than healthy individuals. Vaccination with live attenuated varicella
    vaccine can result in a more extensive vaccine-associated rash or disseminated disease in individuals on
    immunosuppressant doses of corticosteroids.

    Individuals with primary and acquired immunodeficiency states, including those who are immunosuppressed in association with AIDS or other clinical manifestations of infection with human immurrodeficiency virus”; cellular immune deficiencies; and hypogammaglobulinemic and
    dysgammaglobulinemic states. .

    A family history of congenital or hereditary immunodeficiency, unless the immune competence of the potential vaccine recipient is demonstrated.

    Active untreated tuberculosis.

    Any febrile respiratory illness or other active febrile infection.


  34. Lawdog- If you’d kissed carpet outside of my ER we would have taken a Polaroid, and then dragged your bare butt over to a stretcher and wrapped you in a warm blanket. The Polaroids get posted in the staff room for general entertainment. Bring us a pizza and I’ll let you peek.


  35. This Canadian hears you on the sabbatical in your lungs line. Last summer I finally got 3 different pumps prescribed after being ordered to the doctor by my boss and wearing the patience of my coworkers very thin with my incessant coughing.

    Maybe it’s the chicken pox I had as a kid?

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