This is why I don’t travel with family

Passengers on a flight from Detroit were held aboard a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport for more than two hours after a female passenger was suspected of having monkeypox, officials said Thursday.

The woman had been travelling in Uganda, according to officials, though they didn’t say when. She boarded a flight from Detroit to Chicago and while on baord, developed a rash. A family member told flight attendants that they suspected this woman had monkeypox, so the Chicago Fire Department called in the CDC, quarantined the plane for two hours, and then determined that no, the woman did not have monkeypox.

I come from a long line of hypochondriacs. My mother forbade me from travelling to Africa when I was in college, convinced I would come back with malaria, some sort of invasive roundworm, and a raging case of African trypanosomiasis. My sister got food poisoning at a dinner celebrating my graduation from vet school, which hit on the world’s longest one hour Southwest flight, which she spent cursing me for giving her Ebola. And when I started on a particularly long bout of allergy induced headaches, I put off going to the doctor for a month, convinced it was a slow growing brain tumor. This is why I avoid Dr. Google like the plague. All it does is make me paranoid.

People tend to fall into one of two categories: those who see illness in everything, and those who see it in nothing. There’s the client who brings their dog in for the skin tumor that turns out to be a nipple (true story), or the one who brings in the dog with the three pound tumor hanging off their chest that they thought was a small spider bite that would resolve on its own (also true.) We all know where this family member fits.

I bet I know exactly how this scenario played out. The woman was probably getting grief from her mother/cousin/whoever about going to Africa all along, sending her articles about yellow fever and people getting trampled by elephants and comparative analyses of the best water purifiers. She gets on a plane with said family member, who is already paranoid about her impending demise, and the second she breaks out in a minor rash from the hotel laundry detergent or whatever her loving relative sputters “I TOLD YOU SO!” and hits the call button, telling the flight attendant that this poor woman has monkeypox. Chaos ensues.

This is why I’m glad when I go back to Africa in June that it’s with total strangers and not, say, my mother (not that she would go anyway. Sleeping sickness and all of that.) A casual acquaintance would shrug at your rash and say, “Monkeypox? May want to get that checked out.” Even better, a veterinary acquaintance will give you a benadryl and laugh.

So which end of the spectrum do you fall into? And do you know anyone who’s gotten monkeypox recently?

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Health, Musings Tagged: , , ,
  • With myself I fall firmly on the end of, “It’ll get better on it’s own” … until it’s a combination sinus, ear, bronchial infection which I’m given Bactrim for. Which is when I find out I’m allergic to Bactrim, so I’m given a medrol dose pack and discover I *also* have an adverse reaction to pred (it makes me hallucinate). Sadly, all of the above is a true story.

    When it comes to my fuzzy kids, I used to be the crazy person at the other end of the scale, though now working in a Vet’s office I’ve toned it down significantly. The fiancee still says I’m a worry wart, but I explain it to the DVMs and take them at face value if it’s something they should see or something to leave alone.

    “There’s the client who brings their dog in for the skin tumor that turns out to be a nipple (true story)” … that almost killed me… I’ve (kind of) been that person, and recently!

    Our smaller dog, a 50lb sheepdog/golden retriever mix (according to Wisdom Panel) had a spot on her belly that I thought might have been road rash or something strange from roughhousing with the 115lb Newf. Not sure what it was, I brought her in to work on a slow day to appease my psychosis. The DVM, who shall remain nameless, thought it was perhaps a spider bite or something, but it didn’t look bad, so she said not to worry about it. Check, check.

    Then, I noticed one on the other side. Almost exactly parallel. What the…? Then logic and reason kicked in and I investigated the rest of her belly. She was spayed when she was less than 3 months old, at a shelter or Vet office in Arkansas. She never developed nipples and the spots I was finding were where they would have formed…

    Needless to say, both the DVM and I were feeling rather silly and decided just to move on with life …. >.>

  • Lisa W

    For my furkids, I err on the side of more cautious. I’m not as bad as worrying that a nipple is a tumor, but especially since Bailey’s diagnosis I’m pretty paranoid. I do, however, tend to be pretty easy re: the “can you just take a look at this and let me know what you think” and then taking my vet’s word for it. But she also knows my dogs really well (they go to day care there also) so that’s all the more reason I listen to her!

    For me, I don’t even have a primary care physician because stuff that goes wrong tends to go really wrong (broken bones, torn ligaments, that kind of thing). I tend to avoid doctors until I cannot avoid them any longer!

  • This one cracked me up. I fall into the same category as you – I’ve tried to break up with Dr. Google countless times. He’s like a bad boyfriend that ruins my life, but I can’t stay away from. The amount of ridiculous conditions I have convinced myself that I absolutely have is my not so secret shame.

  • macula_densa

    I think I must flip-flop. I can definitely think of times where I was more cautious, possibly bordering on hypochondriac. However, the most recent episode of pneumonia taught me that maybe I’m not always cautious enough. I kept thinking that cough was just bronchitis and it would go away, and the doctors wouldn’t do anything for it anyways. Well, I guess that was partly true… after I realized it was probably pneumonia and actually went to the doctor he still did and said the exact same thing. I begged for chest x-rays, and he was so unconcerned that nobody even looked at them until the next day to discover I had two consolidated lung lobes.

  • Never hesitate to be ‘That Owner’! Because I am, I insisted on testing my mare for Lymes (titer was highest the vet had ever seen) despite her lack of obvious symptoms. ( I know my mare!) I also insisted my vet follow Tufts protocol on my IW puppy when she got pneumonia, and she survived when others have not.

    When I don’t, as in the case of my mare that foaled last Friday, the animal pays the price. I knew things weren’t progressing normally, but my vet kept insisting it wasn’t anything to worry about, ‘maiden mares go long’, etc. Well, the foal was huge, she had a bad delivery, retained placenta, and no milk. We almost lost both, and while the baby is doing fine now on milk replacer, the mare is still not out of the woods.
    Hell yeah I’m ‘That Owner’!

    • It’s not a bad thing to be an advocate! 🙂

  • LB

    For my furkids (yes I am borrowing everyone else’s term as I love it) I will be “That one”. I will bug the vet, the office staff, my husband and everyone else, because I always get the Vet office that doesn’t follow the same protocol for each fur animal I have. For instance my black kitty has a thyroid issue so he got checked multiple times before the dose was perfect. My older cat, was never rechecked after the first dose was given. I wasn’t ever told to bring her back in, not even in a year (the standard recheck). I get stuff like that all the time and nothing ever sits right.

    I can’t say I freaked out about a nipple, but I did freak out about a fatty tissue my dog developed and the vet wouldn’t even look at it. (I changed Vets that same day.)

    So maybe I am just a freaked out mess when it comes to my fuzzies, but if something doesn’t sit right I will make a mountain out of a molehill until someone finally shows me the tests saying it was only a molehill.

    • I love those owners because they are paying attention and they care. Every vet has at least one story of a time they blew off an owner’s concern and turned out to be dead wrong, so it pays to advocate!

  • Noelle Kathleen Barrick

    A couple of weeks ago I noticed a disturbing small black spot on my dog’s tummy. I decided to watch it and see what happened. The next day I noticed another one under her fur! As I was reaching for the phone to call the vet with one hand, I was giving her a tummy rub with the other. And I knocked off one of the spots. Mud.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a total hypocondriac and then I have to go through a logical progression in my head where I convince myself to quit panicking! My vet (the sweetest lady ever) has had her share of “why did you bring my your absolutely healthy dog” visits over the years, which is funny because when it comes to myself?! I have had anaphalytic allergic reaction that I treated with Benedryl, burst cysts that I dealt with using hot compresses (if I had known I could have had a morphine drip?!). When it comes to me, I am the exact opposite of how I am with my dogs. What does that say about me?

  • darchole

    Apparently the woman had scabies. I wonder if they every told the people on the plane what she had and that it was potentially contagious?