May 21, 2010

Fatal Mistakes...choosing the wrong physician and Valley Fever!

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) de...This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a highly magnified view of a tissue that had been infected with Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
VALLEY FEVER
My husband and I returned recently from ourwinter in the sun. We lived in Arizona for 7 months this year. The weather was cool, we had lots of rain and the wind seemed to blow more than usual. I don't have the statistics so this is just what I observed.
The coccidioides species of fungi that cause valley fever are commonly found in the soil in certain areas. These fungi can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil, such as farming, construction and wind. The fungi can then be breathed into the lungs and cause valley fever, also known as acute coccidioidomycosis (kok-sid-e-oi-doh-mi-KOH-sis).
It turns out that these are the perfect conditions for a fungus that cause the disease Valley Fever (coccidioides [kok-sid-ee-OI-deze]). Rain helps the fungus grow and wind spreads it around. The Mayo Clinic, a facility in Phoenix describes the disease a follows:Symtoms include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chest pain — varying from a mild feeling of constriction to intense pressure resembling a heart attack
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint aches
  • Red, spotty rash
They are estimating that maybe half of the people that live in the areas where the fungus grows are infected...it stands to reason because it is very difficult to avoid breathing in and out!  The people of the southwest should be very grateful that the medical community is aware and prepared to care for those that suffer the worst of symptoms.  Those of us that travel home with the condition are not quite so fortunate.

THE WRONG DOCTOR
That is where choosing the right doctor before you travel is very important.  When you come home with a strange disease you have contracted while traveling you need a go to a physician. Immediate care will not be able to deal with this.  We are experiencing this very thing right now. While my husband's Internal Medicine doctor is a very nice man, he is not prepared to deal with diseases you may contract during travel.  We had to instruct him on what he needed to do to test for the disease. We only suspect that my husband is infected. If our doctor had been a little sharper my husband would have been tested three weeks ago.

At the time we sought the doctor's assistance, my husband was ill with pneumonia and had been running a very high fever all the time we were traveling home.  He has had every one of the symptoms listed above accept the joint pain.  In retrospect, we should never have left Arizona in the first place...but my husband is very quiet about his illnesses and I just did not realize how ill he was until his temperature went up two days into our travels. Sigh.

FINDING THE RIGHT DOCTOR
This is what we did. We began to search for a new doctor...and a new hospital. We live in a big city so we can do that. As we began to narrow down our search we found two doctors that fit our needs.  Then we checked references online.  By going to a website called U Compare Health Care, we were able to find just the information we were seeking. I then went to the clinic personally to visit with the receptionist and just look things over.  It was every bit as good as the references indicated. I made an appointment for an initial examination but could not get him in until early in June. If we had been in the right clinic to begin with, the delay would not have happened.

As an added note, we are scheduled to see a pulmonary specialist in a week.  His doctor recommended we go to this type of specialist and referred us to someone he knows personally.  I have lost trust in doctors that get referral fees from their doctor friends so I did some research. I found a specialist that works with a group that deals only in this type of problem.  I just want to make sure we get this right...finally.

I hope you have learned something here...I certainly have. Waiting until the big problem arises before you seek out a good doctor may be dangerous and could even be fatal! Keep your fingers crossed for us...I hope it all works out. I just thought you needed to know.

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