Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Z-Pack! Arrgh!

Those of you who have suffered along, reading my scribblings (uh, I mean…) been frequent visitors to this blog, likely know that, in addition to spending years in The Sick People Business, I am, well, conservative. This works out both politically, as well as with regard to my life choices. I have heard that everybody is conservative about things that they know best. Firefighting is renowned with the deliberate pace of accepting new innovations, probably due to the fact that if the innovation tanks, firefighters (and civilians) die. The military once was very conservative, for similar reasons.

So, TINS, TIW, driving my happy, fuzzy, disease fighting ass home after another fun filled, exciting day of Beating Back The Scourge of Zithropenia (Azithromycin+/penia=Zithropenia. (n) The state or condition of having a pathologically low blood level of azithromycin. (fictional malady)). I was listening to a talk radio host, and this worthy declaimed that they “Know my own body. I get this same bronchitis every year about this time of year, and I always get the Z Pack!”.

Let’s pause, and “bookmark” that statement. There are three things that I want to address therein. Once I unclench my teeth, that is.

This soul continued: “So, I went to a doctor, just like last year, because I had this bronchitis, just like last year. I mentioned that I wanted the Z Pack, just like last year, because I got better after taking it. I guess that was the wrong thing to say, because he prescribed something else, which took longer, and didn’t work as well”.

Another bookmark, please. Generally, this commentator makes sense, and I agree with their perspectives. They typically make valid points, in my view, and their analysis of events makes sense: they appear generally internally consistent. HOWEVER, I need to contemplate whether there becomes a variety of what I will call a “reverse Halo effect”, for lack of the precise term. That means, if this commentator can so badly err in this regard, perhaps I ought to view their perspectives with greater skepticism.

Now, about those “bookmarks”. Let us begin with (1) “I know my body”. Let us agree, “know my my own body”, and “know whereof I speak in matters medical” is not a circle in the Venn diagram of facts. Generally, the soul with whom I am interacting (placing myself in this person’s clinician’s place), is not a physician of any stripe, commonly not an RN, and likely does not know the manner in which antibiotics (for azithromycin-The Z Pack-is an antibiotic, of the macrolide class thereof) function. In some regards, this is similar to presenting to your mechanic, and asserting, “I know my car, and I need a new framistan!”

Perhaps, should your mechanic pull the OBE codes he/she might have some insight into the, oh, I dunno, correct analysis of why your vehicle is making that funny noise, that, just maybe, you ought to listen to.

On that same topic, the imp in my head often suggests that, in response to that conversational gambit, that I ask, “Indeed? What is your opinion of the role your amygdala is playing in your illness?”, or, “Are you certain the the Z Pack will be strong enough? Shouldn’t you take imiprimine for your cough-worse-at-night, or sniffles?”

I rarely listen to the imp’s advice.

Secondly, “I get this same bronchitis every year around this time”. While I am by no means a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV, and the last Holiday Inn Express that I stayed in was in 2016,

in my Nursing studies, and in my midlevel studies, I do not recall a single instance of our instructors informing us that microbes possessed awareness of the seasons, let alone calendars. My assessment, assuming that my examination does not provide contrary evidence, is that the seasonal nature of the malady likely reflects seasonal changes in the environment. Here, in The Un-Named Northern Fly Over State, that likely means, in the fall, that you finally became cold enough to turn on your furnace, and, generally, that means a forced air furnace. Said furnace has been dormant for 4-7 months, allowing all the dreck suspended in the air to settle out in your heating ducts, and, once you get chilly again, and the furnace is activated, which means the the blower is energized, air begins to move through your ductwork, and all that dreck, quiescent for lo, these many months, is aerosolized once again, and you again breathe it all in.

Since, in the interval, your mucosa has grown UNACCUSTOMED to these irritants, you, once again, have irritated sinuses, which swell (“my head is plugged” and/or “I cannot breathe….through my nose”), and, in the manner in which your mucous membranes respond to irritation, they pour out mucous. Since it takes a while for you immune system to again achieve equilibrium, the delay until you go to the clinic + the delay before you fill your prescription + the delay until you complete the course of azithromycin of which you speak so highly, roughly equals the time frame required for your immune system (read: mucous membranes) to adapt to the new, dust laden, environment your autumnal activation of your heating system elicits.

Rinse, repeat, for spring “bronchitis”, likely elicited by mold finally being unburied from the snow that we enjoy months at a time. Ibid, spring pollen release, similarly, summer lawn clippings, or whatever.

Finally, “I always get prescribed the Z-Pack” (implied is “and it always fixes me”.) Please contemplate the logical fallacy of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” (“this follows that, therefore that caused this”). To illustrate, I purchased a new pickup truck in the summer of 2020. Therefore, absent my truck purchase, Mr. Biden would not presently be in The White House. Right? See above regarding seasonal irritants to your sinuses, and their effects, along with the timeline described two paragraphs above.

There is an additional factor, segueing into the next point, wherein azithromycin interacts with other medications (betcha they didn’t know THAT, eh?), as well as particular medical conditions (go internet search “black box warning”. I’ll wait here while you do so.) To translate the medicalese into english, “QT prolongation” refers to an alteration of the heart conduction system, which, occasionally, can produce alterations of the heart rhythm that can be lethal.

We generally consider that to be a bad thing.

So, these are prominent among the reasons that I am considered “the Z-Pack Nazi” by my co workers.

With reference to the assertion that “…he prescribed something else, which took longer and did not work as well”. Please refer to the timeline outlined above, consider the drug-drug interactions, as well as drug-medical history interactions cited above. Now consider the possibility that Doxycycline, over ten days, was every bit as effective as azithromycin (which is to say, not), and perhaps the speaker went to the clinic earlier in their course than historically.

All that is with absolutely no knowledge of this radio person’s medication list, allergy list, past medical history, review of systems at the time of the office visit, nor of the physical exam findings. Simply, it elicits teeth grinding, and reminiscences of actual patient encounters that I personally have had.

Thanks for riding along.

2 thoughts on “Z-Pack! Arrgh!

  1. Here we spent all of our younger, formative years and mucho money to be edumacated to deliver an accurate, correct diagnoses and we discover they can self-diagnose and we could have at an earlier time learn to be pilferers of medical grade pharmaceuticals and be “drug” dealers and drive around in spiffy Escalades and made very good money with out all that pesky time of learning.

    Like

    1. Yep. And here, I had assumed that that schooling, leavened with freaking decades of clinical experience, meant that my opinion just MIGHT be worth implementing.

      Fool that I am.

      My partner today threatened to get a forearm tattoo: “Good talk! Here’s your Z-Pak. Have a nice day!”

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s