So I always like to post whenever I come down with some kind of illness or other. It's really the only opportunity you get to being on the "other side of the fence" as a medical student... kind of like being a realtor selling your own house, or accountant filing your own taxes, or whatever.
So let's run through my latest bout with the big bad germs of the world. I'd had this nagging chest cough for about 2 weeks. On its onset, it started as a dry cough, and over the course of the first few days it moved "deeper" into my chest and I started to have laryngospasms when I coughed (the wonderfully coined 'croup' - no inspiratory stridor though). Overall it was a pretty subacute course. No fever, kinda rundown but not enough that I couldn't get through the days. No purulunt sputum, no involvement of the oropharnx or nasoparhynx. No earache, no headaches, no violent cough attacks. I just had this persistent deep-chested cough which sputtered out throughout the day and scared every healthy person 15 feet away from me for almost a month. Mild lymphadenopathy, no swollen tonsils or erythema of the throat.
So I thought it was viral at first, even though it seemed to be localized to my chest, generally by its pretty mild nature. So one week goes by, no improvement, no worsening. When the 2 week mark was hit I started being suspicious it was mycoplasma, since by that point I should have been on the upswing, and we saw a kid in clinic the day before I started to be sick who had it. Tough it out a couple more days before dragging myself into urgent care.
My plan was to play ignorant and just let the doc go through his exam, both because I was curious what sort of conclusion he'd reach and also because its kind of fun to play the patient. Y'know, I didn't have "lymphadenopathy," I had "some swollen lymph nodes." The illness wasn't "subacute," I "just never really felt that sick." "No green gunk when I cough." I know, I am so clever. My ruse was going perfectly as we went through the history until he asked me if I had had any fever, to which I replied "I haven't been measuring my temperature but I haven't really felt febrile."
Doc stops typing. Slowly turns and peers at me.
"You in medicine?" C'est la vie, I had been found out. Like every single physician when I first meet them, he wants to know what year I'm in, then subsequently looks disappointed when I tell him I'm a 2nd year. Yeah I know, I'm still stuck in the lame go-to-class study-all-day part of medical school.
Anyways, he finishes the exam and agrees with my diagnosis, even though he doesn't know it (Ed Note: Yes, I realize this sentence makes me sound like a total asshole), and hooks me up with a good old z-pack.
One day later. Cough dramatically improved. 5 days later, cough almost completely gone. The wonders of medicine.