Tag Archives: antibiotics

Bill, does this look infected?

Dear Bill Simmons:

Hey Bill, I can’t really concentrate on my writing, not lately. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve got this clicking in my jaw. It’s like, I was chewing some gum last week, everything was fine, but then there was this one chew where my jaw just, well, something happened, I can’t really describe it. It’s almost like the jaw bones, it’s like they missed, like wherever they’re supposed to connect when they go up and down, I don’t know, maybe something slipped out. But I was chewing so fast, it’s not like it just popped out. No, it popped, but then I continued to chew. And I don’t know how you chew gum, but this was like a hard chew, all of my jaw strength clamping down on a joint that, as I far as I can guess, was now totally out the socket. And that hurt, there was like an audible chnk sound, an intense pain that shot up the side of my head.


Right after that it started swelling, and I couldn’t close my mouth all the way. That was for like two or three days, and while it’s a little better now, there’s still some stiffness, my bite hasn’t really gone back to the way it was. And the clicking, that’s what I was getting at, even when I do manage to warm up my jaw and get a good bite rhythm going, there’s that click, like I’m imagining something just a little off, each time I chew I can hear it, click, click, click.

Do you think I should go to the dentist? I’m worried that they’re going to try to sell me on some experimental procedure that hasn’t really proved its effectiveness in the general public. From everything that I’ve read online, it’s like, if you have a jaw problem, just deal with it. Modern medicine hasn’t yet come up with a consensus on how best to deal with these issues. There are so many horror stories of people enduring painful surgeries and long recoveries, only to have things wind up worse than when they started.

And yeah, one obvious solution would be to just stop chewing gum for a while, maybe give my body as good of an interrupted chunk of time as I can string together to really try to heal itself. But I love gum. Which is a dumb reason to keep chewing, I get it, but it’s just that, I’m not entirely convinced that the gum chewing was the problem. I keep having this idea that something just got slightly out of whack, like a door that’s just barely off of its hinge. And I don’t know, I have this feeling like if I could only knock it back into place.

That’s crazy though, right? Hey Bill, I hate to change topics abruptly here, but the other day I was riding my bike and, I don’t know what happened, because I ride my bike every day, it’s one of those skills that I take for granted. So you can imagine how surprised I was when my right foot slipped off of the pedal. I was wearing shorts because it had just started to get nice out, and so the inside of my ankle made contact with the chain.

At first it didn’t look like it was going to be that bad, but then these thick globs of blood started bubbling at the skin, it was like it was condensing at the surface from the inside. By the time I pedaled home, the crimson stain on my sock was pretty noticeable. While the cut itself wasn’t that big, it was definitely deeper than just your average scrape, and so I don’t know, should I go and have it checked out?

It’s not bleeding anymore, I mean, it was a few days ago, but it’s really hard to clean out. I put on this invisible skin spray, but I feel like that just added an extra layer of gunk, and so I can’t tell if this thing is healing properly, or maybe there’s just too much liquid bandage accumulating around the edges of the cut. I don’t mind winding up with a scar, I mean, I know you’re supposed to get stitches within like three or four hours. But I just can’t shake the feeling like this thing is going to get infected, I’m not going to be paying attention, or I’m going to convince myself that it’s OK when it’s not OK, and the next thing I know, well … do you know that Calvin Coolidge’s son died from a blister? Yeah, he was just playing tennis, got a blister, didn’t tell anybody about how bad it was getting, and then he was dead. Sure, that was right before antibiotics, but if I don’t go to the doctor, it’ll be like I’m living in the early 1900s, like this thing is going to get worse and worse until it’s too late.

But on the other hand, I don’t want to turn into one of those wackos who goes to the emergency room every time he needs a Band-Aid. They’ll prescribe antibiotics, eventually they’ll stop working, then one day I’ll be sixty and I’ll get pneumonia and the doctors will be like, “It’s really strange, it’s almost as if your body isn’t responding to the medicine at all. Oh well, better get your affairs in order.”

I know I’m spending way too much time in my head, and whether or not my wound is life threatening or not, the anxiety I’m feeling is very real. And the only way I know to cope with it is to keep chewing gum, which, like I said before, may or may not be making my jaw problem worse. Bill, you’re a lot older than me, do you have any advice? Would you go to doctor? Is it worth the copay? I’ll send you a picture. Does this look infected?

Thanks Bill,

Rob G.

Maybe I’ll call in sick

I’m taking the day off. I’m going to call in to work and be like, “Sorry boss, I’m feeling pretty under the weather today,” and he’ll cut me off, he’ll be like, “You know Rob, if you can’t get your shift covered, well, you better bring a doctor’s note is all that I’m saying,” trying to discourage me from taking a personal day. But that’s OK, my wife’s aunt is a doctor, I could always just put a pinch of black pepper up my nose, and then I’ll call her up and be like, “Achoo! Oh my God! I’m so sick! My boss said if I can’t get a doctor’s note then I have to show up for work!”

And I know my wife’s aunt, she’ll get really worried, she’ll be like, “You know Rob, that sneeze actually sounds pretty serious. I’d like you to stop by my office in an hour,” and I’ll have already regretted calling her. Why wouldn’t I have thought this through before actually picking up the phone? I’ll try, “You know, I think I’m OK. I know my body, I just have to rest this one out, please,” and she’ll protest, “No, Rob, I’m actually very concerned.”

So, what, that’s not that terrible, is it? Getting to the doctor’s office? I’d still have most of the day to myself. Even though, yeah, I had really intended for this day to include me staying asleep, but now I’d be up, I’d have already taken a shower and brushed my teeth. I’ll think to myself, this actually isn’t that bad, I’m a lot less tired than I was before. Maybe I should just go to work.

But no, the call to my boss, I’ll have already involved my wife’s aunt. I’d have to go to the doctor. And I’ll get there much later than expected, by the time I actually make my way into the office, sneak into the bathroom to apply some more black pepper, realize that my nose must have developed a black pepper immunity since the morning, kind of panic seeing as how I’d have to sit down in the exam room, totally healthy, making up a bunch of vague sounding symptoms to which the doctor would kind of just look at me puzzled, trying her best to act sympathetic, but doing a terrible job at hiding the belief that maybe, probably, this guy is just faking it, like what kind of an adult does something like this, how did my niece wind up with this clown, but still, she’s family, and so she’ll prescribe me a bunch of antibiotics, sending me on my way, me having to remind her a bunch of times about that note, the only thing I’d really be there for, that doctor’s note, by the time all of that would be over, it would be way past lunchtime, I’d be starving.

And then traffic on the way back would be much worse than it was coming in, it’s always that way, and now, what, do I really have to go to the pharmacy and pick up a bunch of medication that I don’t need in the first place? It might not be a bad idea to have some on hand, in case I really do get sick. Like, I’m not stupid enough to self-diagnose everything. But I know what strep throat feels like. Why spend a whole day going to a doctor when I could just get started on that Z-Pac? But my cavalier attitude toward popping pills will alter my body’s microbiome, my system will develop antibodies so that, when I’m an old man, if I ever get pneumonia or whooping cough, none of the medication will work and I’ll die.

By the time I’ll have snapped out of my daydream, I’ll think, man, I should have just gone to work. This whole day off has been a total bust. And I’ll show up the next day and my boss will be standing there with his hand out for the doctor’s note. He’ll look at it and say, “Hey Rob, this doctor’s note says that you went to the doctor because you weren’t feeling well, and that she prescribed you antibiotics. That’s it.” And I’ll say, “Yeah? What else are you looking for?” And he’ll tell me, “Oh I don’t know, maybe a diagnosis, maybe confirmation that you were actually sick?”

And I’ll have no choice but to feign indignant, like, “What are you, a health care practitioner? I was sick. I went to the doctor. Now I’m feeling better.” Which is true, my boss shouldn’t really cross into my medical history, but he’s clever, he’ll be like, “All right, well let me see your antibiotics.” And I’ll realize, shit, I’m not taking those meds for real. I left them at home. I’ll call his bluff, “Fine!” and then make a big show of looking everywhere, pretending like I must have lost them, asking people if they’ve seen a pill bottle anywhere.

But my boss will get in my face, he’ll be like, “I’m writing you up.” And despite my protests, “But! Come on!” he’ll walk away, “You try anything like this again and you’re out.” Most likely I’d get really sick like a week later, for real, and instead of going through the proper channels, doctor, medicine, stuff like that, I’ll have already used my sick excuse for the year, and I’ll have to tough it out, work while I’m sick. Maybe I’ll develop an infection. Maybe I won’t make it. I probably won’t. I should probably just go to work. But I really don’t feel like going in today. Maybe I could make up a death in the family. Nobody close, just a distant cousin. One of my in-laws. A distant in-law. Someone close enough that I’d have to go to the funeral, but distant enough so that nobody at work would feel obliged to say stuff like, “Sorry for your loss Rob,” and I’d have to fake it, “Yeah … thanks …”

Calling in sick

Just try to think of something nice, something pleasant to distract you from whatever uncomfortable situation you might find yourself in. Maybe you’re not feeling so great. Maybe you have strep throat and you had to stay home from work, but when you called in sick, your boss gave you that, “Yeah, sure,” like he didn’t really believe you, and even if he did believe you, he didn’t really care, you should be at work, it doesn’t matter about any doctor’s note, it doesn’t matter that you’re taking antibiotics, that you’re contagious. Everybody takes sick days. Everybody gets sick. Everybody except for Johnson, that guy never calls in. In fact, he’s come in a few days when he should have clearly just taken the day off. Like that one time when he was trying to fix the office printer, and the auto stapler mechanism started malfunctioning, and he got that ridiculous gash on his forearm, right through his shirt, and he left, I mean, he had to, he was losing a lot of blood, getting it everywhere. But he came back in like two hours, all stitched up, just tons and tons of gauze wrapped around his whole arm, like you could totally see the wound still oozing through the gauze, and everyone was like, “Are you OK? Shouldn’t go home? Didn’t they put you on antibiotics?” And he just casually laughed it off, “Yes, no, and yes. Really, I’m fine.” And he even stayed an hour late that day, because he used his lunch break for the first hour at the emergency room, and then he made it up, that same very day. Fucking Johnson.

You can’t get strep throat though. I mean you can, but even if you go to work, you’ll look basically the same, there won’t be any bloody gauze to wear like a trophy. So you lose some face with the boss. Whatever, did you really think you were in line for a promotion? For a bonus? I know it sucks, having this day off, this unpaid day off, and you can’t even enjoy it, just laying on your couch, hungry, thirsty, just waiting for that Z-pack to kick in so you can swallow something without any pain. Just think about something happy. Think about that time two summers ago, where all of your friends took the day off and went to the beach, and you were like, screw it, and you called in sick also. And it was your first time calling in sick and you didn’t think it would be a big deal, because it was summer and productivity generally takes somewhat of a dip during the summer, and you just shot an email to the boss, “Hey, I’m not feeling so great. See you on Monday.” And you had a blast, just one of those great summer three-day weekends. But then you showed up on Monday and Johnson not only did all of your work, like he actually went through your desk and found a bunch of work to do, he then sent you an email that said, “Hey, just letting you know I stayed late today and finished up all of your work. Hope your feeling better.” But he “accidentally” sent it to everybody in the office. And then on Tuesday the boss called the team in for a little meeting, just to go over the sick day rules, how ever since they changed the health insurance policy last fall, how even though everybody’s paying a little more and getting a little less coverage, it’s because the company’s paying more too, so that’s why they had to eliminate paid sick days. You can still take two sick days a year, but they’re unpaid. And while he was at it, the boss went into a whole speech about productivity, and Johnson was just standing there beaming, and the boss looked like he was looking right at you the whole time.

Just stop thinking about all of that stuff. What are you going to do? You’re sick. Do you really think things would be better if you were at the office? What are you going to do drink cups of tea, one after the other, all day long? You have the doctor’s note. There’s nothing more you can do. There, you can feel it starting to kick in, right? The antibiotics? They’re starting to make you feel a little better, right? Well, drink a cup of tea, with honey and lemon. That’s going to help. And eucalyptus. I don’t know, in the health foods aisle. And just think about something warm, something comforting, like a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows when you were a little kid, when it was so much easier, not to take a sick day, you’d still have to be pretty sick to convince your mom to let you take a sick day, but once you were home, and sick, it was all uphill from there, laying on the couch, blankets, daytime TV, who cares about Johnson, always the last one out of the office, always wearing those ridiculous button down short-sleeve shirts, displaying that nasty scar, a constant reminder of his dedication to the company, to work, to life, to being a team player, a real go-getter, a real gunner, gunning for the top, straight up up up up up.