Thursday, August 14, 2014

Strep Throat Reindeer Games

I love a good game. Ticket to Ride- awesome. A scary video game that I watch Hubby play- hells yeah. Hidden object games-my favorite!!

But I'm completely over the stupid reindeer games the military makes you play when you suspect a family member has strep throat.

In the 2 years the kids and I have been in Arizona, it has tried hard to kill me twice now and has infected The Ginger and The Girl a few times, too. I started getting sick the week after we got here, and have been sick with strep, or a random flu, or whatever, about every 3 months for the last 2 years, with 2 of my bouts knocking me out for almost 2 weeks each time. The Ginger is the same way, with strep every 3-4 months. The Girl has only been sick twice since we've been here, so she definitely got Hubby's immune system.

2 years of going through this every 3-4 months, and you'd expect a medical facility to... help. Right?

Instead, we end up playing this game with the med group here on base- the Strep Throat Reindeer Game. The object of the game is to get your strep diagnosis and antibiotics in a timely fashion, with as little headache as possible.

I've yet to win this game.

I'll give you all the exact scenario I go through whenever The Ginger, The Girl or I get sick... so, like every 2-3 months.

One of us wakes up in the morning with a sore throat, with or without a fever, depending on the mutant strep strain's configuration.

I call the base medical group appointment line to make a doctor's appointment. No appointment can be given, because they do appointment-free walk-in strep swabs from 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm. The "rapid" strep test takes an hour or two to show results (more on that in a second), and if the test is positive, they just
send a prescription directly to the pharmacy for pickup, and if it's negative, then tough shit, you still aren't seeing a doctor.

We do the walk in strep swab at 9am, then go home to await the results.

Around 11am, we get a call saying the strep test was negative.

Somewhere between 11am and about 3pm, the sick person takes a turn for the worst with fever spikes, sometimes vomiting occurs, shaking, flu-like symptoms and a near comatose state.

Either an emergency room visit or call to the after-care line for an urgent care facility referral and visit are needed.

At either the emergency room or the urgent care place, a rapid strep test is done. It takes 5 minutes, not an hour to two hours as the base says the test takes, and we wait in the room for the results.

The test comes back positive. A prescription for antibiotics is sent to a local pharmacy.

We head to the local pharmacy, wait 30-45 minutes to pick up the prescription, fighting a fever (which fever meds barely even touch), flu-like symptoms and now infecting everyone in the pharmacy with strep throat.

Get home around 5pm and get the first dose of antibiotics ingested...

8 hours after we walked into the clinic on base, who said we didn't have strep in the first place.

Do you know what can happen in the 8 hours my kids or I SHOULD have had antibiotics in us? I went grocery shopping once, because the clinic told me I didn't have strep. So, I shoved a bunch of flu meds inside me and went grocery shopping, possibly infecting hundreds of people.

Sorry, my bad. I was told I didn't have strep.

This is what happens. Every. Single. Time.

When The Ginger woke up this morning with a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and the back of his throat looking like the Zombie Apocalypse, I banged my head against the wall. I didn't want to play the Strep Throat Reindeer Game. I hate that game. I've played it too many times and I never win.
LOVE THIS!! Pic Courtesy

I asked Hubby what to do. He told me to play by the rules- my least favorite thing to do... ever... in ANY situation.

So, I called the appointment line and explained everything to them, begging to just get the referral to an urgent care facility off base, so my son could be diagnosed and given his meds as soon as possible.

Not possible, they said. Must come to the clinic and have an "official" strep swab done, they said.

If you are keeping score, that's The Med Group-1, Me-0, in the form of a circular sore spot on my forehead from banging it against the wall.

Took The Ginger at 8:50, he got swabbed at like 9:15, they said results would take an hour.

Oh, you mean, for that 5 minute rapid strep test? An hour?

Yes, ma'am, an hour.


I explained the entire scenario to the nurse, who told me there was no way the doc could come see The Ginger, as this was a walk-in session only, and the doc couldn't prescribe antibiotics without a positive strep test, no matter how many times my family had been through this.

Are antibiotics controlled substances? Can you abuse antibiotics? Just curious, because here, they lock theirs up tighter than a dolphin's asshole.

But I digress.

10:40am, my phone rings.

Can you guess what the results were?

Ding ding ding!!!!! Negative for strep.

So, at nearly 11am, we started to play the Waiting Game- watch The Ginger like a hawk, see if he develops a hellacious fever, or a rash (he's done what with strep before), check his lymph nodes, watch to see if he goes comatose, all so we can call the appointment line back and obtain a referral to an urgent care place to obtain a proper strep diagnosis and receive the needed meds.

Final score- The Med Group-2, Me-Sore spot from banging head and possibly a bald spot from pulling my hair out.

At the moment, we're still playing the Waiting Game. The Ginger is one of those kids who goes from fine to near death in about an hour, so I just have to keep an eye on him. His sister likes to seem like she's getting better as the night goes on, and then wakes up the next morning looking like death warmed over. And The Ginger has been known a time or two to pop up on my side of the bed in the middle of the night, crying and burning up. I think he just likes cuddle time with his mom at 2am.

Hubby says, in theory, the strep protocol for the med group is good; it keeps kids with strep out of the doctor's office so they don't infect others, and it keeps appointments open for other various needs. But, considering I've had this discussion with friends and women in local online groups, and not a single person has ever had a positive strep test on base, something just isn't right.

I told my friend here it's because the military takes the lowest bidder on everything they do, so the strep tests probably came off of ebay and expired in 1997. Hubby thinks we have a mutant strain of strep that just lives inside our family and doesn't show up on "normal" strep tests. I think my answer is probably way closer to the truth than his. Maybe not an ebay purchase of bulk strep tests. Maybe a sketchy lab facility in some third-world country is more on point.

Oh, and just to add to the story a little, no doctor can explain why we get sick every 2-3 months, either. After every bout of strep, I bleach the floors, lysol the door handles, wash sheets, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, switch out tooth brushes- everything I know to do to rid the house of any stagnant strep germs. And yes, I even witchy smudge the place to remove the sick energy; you can never be too careful.

The clinic told me strep just seems to go around out here a lot. Not sure if it's the dry heat, or parents that don't give a rat's ass about sending their little sick one to school, or a combination of the two. But it sucks, and it sucks even worse that my family always seems to be affected by it.

Whatever the reason, it has me exhausted. This game sucks and I never win at it, meaning I never want to play it again. But I have to, every 2-3 months when one of us gets sick.

Stupid Strep Throat Reindeer Game. I effing hate it.

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  1. Been there. Done that. At Scott AFB, the rapid strep test actually only took 5 minutes but most of the time came back negative when we were really positive. A friend of mine who was dealing with the same thing (only she had 4 kids, God bless her), told me that she had to have some super strong zpack before it finally got rid of the strep for more than a couple months. I tried the shot once versus the 10 day antibiotics...don't do that. That was a bad, bad idea.

    1. I asked them last time I was at the urgent care place if there was a shot of antibiotics I could take, and they didn't have it. I've heard it's a good thing I didn't get it done, lol.