Sean has had this chronic cough and wheeze for what seems like forever. We have made multiple trips to the doctor over the past year to see about this cough and we now own a pharmacy of failed and forgotten prescriptions. Singulair anyone? I got a tuckload. Albuterol? Syrup or inhaler, your choice. I’ll even throw in some Benedryl.
Early on in our quest to cure the cough, the pediatrician suggested that it could be asthma. Being the medical expert that I am — what with all the ER I have watched over the past ten years, not to mention every episode of General Hospital back in the Luke and Laura days — I was quick to correct him. I told him no, it could not possibly be asthma because neither I nor my husband nor any of our ancestors dating back to second century BC were ever known to have asthma. We are not asthmatics. So, sorry no — it is definitely NOT asthma.
On our 26th trip to the doctor, he suggested that it might be non-specific allergy induced respiratory irritant just-don’t-say-the-word-asthma syndrome or NSAIRIJDSWA. So I said, fine, what do you got for that? And he prescribed FloVent, which sounds like something you would use to eliminate bathroom odors but is actually a steroidal inhaler. And also used for asthma. Since Sean has been on this steroidal inhaler thing, the cough has gone away. Completely. And the quality of our life has quadrupled. And that gives me warm and fuzzy feelings for the doctor.
So a month after the last doctor’s visit, I got around to making the two-week follow-up appointment, which we went to yesterday. I was happy to report to the good doctor that the inhaler was working, that the NSAIRIJDSWA was gone and that for the first time in about a year, Sean was asymptomatic.
When I said the word “asymptomatic” the doctor stopped writing and looked at me pointedly.
“What kind of work did you do in your previous life? Before you became a mother?” he asked tapping his pen on the desk.
“What?” I wasn’t sure where he was going with that line of questioning.
“Most of the people I see don’t use words like asymptomatic,” he said.
I didn’t think that asymptomatic was such an unusual word. Once, during an art critique in college, I even used the words atypical and asymmetrical in the same sentence — isn’t that a-mazing? I can be real showy like that, just carelessly tossing around multiple syllabic words.
“Well doctor,” I said, “Junior here, he ain’t got no cough no more.”
After he cracked a smile, I told him that I like words. And that I’ve been sick with one thing or another my entire life, so I am more familiar with medical terms than I care to be.
And then he said, “Oh yes, you have IBD, right?”
“Yes,” I said, “But I’m asymptomatic.” (Oh how I crack myself up.)
And then it was my turn to be impressed with him, because even MY doctors don’t remember what my health issues are without looking at my chart.
Score one more warm and fuzzy for the good doctor.