by Kelsey Hausman
Her junior year, Brittney Lutz walked into Health Services with a swollen face and congested nose. She knew she had a sinus infection, all too common throughout her life due to her deviated septum. Three days after she started feeling sinus pressure, Lutz made her way to Franklin Pierce Health Services, her first mistake on an unnecessarily long path to healing.
“It’s just allergies,” said the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) as she handed Lutz allergy medication with instructions to take one pill twice a day, reassuring her she would be fine in five to seven days. Lutz was hesitant to accept it, telling the nurse practitioner that she had a deviated septum and that over the counter drugs don’t work for her, all things listed in her file.
Despite her instincts, she listened to the nurse, went home, and popped one of the tiny white pills in her mouth. Throughout the next week, her symptoms only worsened. She developed a severe cough, and breathing became an arduous endeavor. Aggravated that she wasn’t getting better, Lutz trudged back to Health Services.
“You’re taking too many allergy pills,” said the APRN, to Lutz’s amazement. She was instructed to only take one a day in the mornings and continue resting and hydrating.
Two days later, Lutz was suffering from coughing fits that were so bad she ended up vomiting, and she couldn’t walk more than a few steps without a puff of an inhaler.
Lutz’s mother gripped the wheel of her Mazda cx 9 and pulled onto campus from their hometown in Marlborough, Massachusetts. She picked her daughter up from Cheshire and drove her to an urgent care near home.
At the facility, the doctor diagnosed her with a sinus infection, pneumonia, bronchitis, and a chest infection. The doctor sat on a stool and prescribed Lutz antibiotics and two inhalers. He also wrote a note for Lutz to give to the school physician listing specific instructions to monitor her improvement over the course of three to five follow up appointments. In addition, he sent Lutz to UMass Marlborough Hospital for a chest x-ray and multiple examinations with different doctors.
Lutz spent the next few days recovering at home. Still experiencing a heavy cough, she returned to Franklin Pierce, eventually making her way to Health Services for a third time. Lutz handed the APRN her doctor’s note, which she quickly read over and then placed it in her file. The nurse placed her stethoscope against Lutz’s chest and told her to take deep breaths in and out.
“Your lungs sound fine,” said the APRN. She handed Lutz a small yellow medicine bottle of table salt and told her to gargle it with warm water to soothe her non-existent sore throat.
The nurse did not request a follow up with Lutz. Gripping the tiny yellow bottle in her palm, Lutz left Health Services once again with something she didn’t need. Over the course of the next few weeks, Lutz drove herself to follow up appointments in her hometown.
After being sick for a month and a half, Lutz says she becomes sick much more easily than she used to. Her asthma, once strictly sport induced, is now triggered more often. Never knowing when her airways will constrict, she has to be mindful of where she last placed her inhaler.
Done taking chances, Lutz’s mother has banned her daughter and son, a freshman at Franklin Pierce, from Health Services. If they have a health related issue they drive directly to an urgent care.