My girl friend went to my apartment to pick up a few things I needed for my hospital stay. She revealed that my landlord had pulled her aside and told her that he did not appreciate me being falling down drunk in and around his building. He threatened to evict me if there were any more incidents. My girlfriend tried to explain that I had a muscle disorder that caused me to fall, and I was currently in the hospital for its treatment. Apparently he did not see me being carried out to the ambulance a few days previously, and basically told her, “I’m sure he has a muscle disorder,” with a roll of his eyes.
I must say I did not appreciate the landlord’s attitude. I lived in the apartment nearly two years without a single “falling down drunk” incident until the previous 30 days or so. He should have believed my girl friend.
Back at the hospital, after 4 nights in the hall I was transferred to a ward with about 20 other patients plus their helpers. By this time I could hardly stand, my leg muscles were so weak. I was confined to my tiny bed in my leg cast while my ankle knitted. Every day or so a team of 5 or 6 doctors came through the ward. Apparently there was a head doctor and four or five students.
Sometimes they would stop as ask how I was doing. I always asked about my leg weakness. I never asked about my broken bone since it was receiving care from another doctor. Their standard answer was to eat more food to build up my body, and to swing my legs off the edge of the bed as a strengthening exercise.
This led to a few questions in my mind that I tried to ask the doctors, but was unable to because they were quickly off to the next bed. My unasked questions included how did they know it was a nutritional deficiency that was causing my weakness, and why was the weakness confined to my legs? I am not a small, emaciated person. In fact I am about 20 pounds over weight. So how did they come up with their diagnosis? Also, I have been on diets fairly regularly most of my life and I have never experienced muscle weakness as a result of them. So once again, I asked myself how did they come up with the diagnosis?
Frustrated, I got on my computer and looked for diseases that cause muscle weakness. I came up with Guillain-Barre Syndrome which causes muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbness or tingling in affected parts of the body. I was experiencing all of these symptoms. I wrote the name down on a piece of paper and asked the doctors if they had considered this syndrome the next time I saw them. The head doctor was livid that I would try to diagnose myself when I was not a trained medical professional like himself. He said if he was in my house he would not insult me by trying to tell me how to run it. The same principle applied in his house, the hospital.
I apologized and tried to smooth things over by saying the illness was very rare and it probably never appeared in China. And there had only been a handful of cases in the U.S., so I thought it might not even be mentioned in Chinese medical literature. The head doctor was not mollified, and as the little group began to move on, I offered the paper on which the name was written to them. One of the student doctors took it, but I don’t think anything was done with it.
To be continued tomorrow…I hope.