Yesterday I had the (mis)fortune...all in how you look at it...to find myself in the Urgent Care waiting room at Kaiser. I had put off too long having someone look at what were apparent spider bites. One bite was big...on my left leg. It hurt like a sun of a gun for the first few days, but I didn't want to find out I was dying, so I waiting. Shortly after that, another bit appeared near the back of my right ear. (Traveling spider?) I suppose it was during the night, but who knows? Anyway, I finally decided it wasn't healing fast enough, so I got myself to UC. Long story short, the Physician's Assistant gave it a glance or two. "Insect bite. I'm prescribing a steroid creme, K-Flex, and an anti-biotic." I said spider bite. He wouldn't commit, but his notes said spider bite. Sigh.
So there's the how and why I ended up in Urgent Care...reluctantly of course, but it was quite the experience in people watching.
I found my way to the registration desk. I was standing in line, waiting the HIPPA mandated six feet (or?) away. A male voice called out, "Next Member!". He was hidden behind a pillar, but I finally found him. Unsmiling or welcoming, he asked for my member card and why I was there. I described what I had. He made notes, didn't say a word. He gave me a sheet of paper to take to window B and deposit through the slot. "Next!"
I dutifully did as the reception clerk directed. The waiting room was probably 95% full. Not too bad. Lots of seats. I chose one next to a lovely old woman, well dressed and very polite appearing. Sitting down, I said I would try not to bump her. "You won't," she smiled. "Lots a people here needing attention. Some of them sick," she said. I decided to break out my Morning Pages journal and just write.
As I wrote, I could overhear the young couple to my right talking about her "needing to pee so often". "Well," he chided her, "You are pregnant." "Yes," she said, "I guess that's it." They were called in shortly after that. Not to long after, they came out. "Where is X-ray?" he asked. "This way," she said. And they were gone.
Just then another woman sat down. She was on her cell. "Betty can hardly walk," she was explaining. "I had to wheel her in and they gave us a big old wheelchair. It wasn't easy, poor thing. They told us it would be two hours. Two hours! What can you do?" The woman decided to go get Betty and wheel her in next to where she was sitting. Betty didn't look comfortable, but seemed in good spirits. They kept repeating "two hours, its gonna be two hours! Did you tell her?" "Yes" "Well, I guess all we can do is wait." Good choice I guess. Emergency is right around the corner, but I bet you wait there, too.
I surveyed the room at that point. It seems like every other person waiting had the hand held devices out. Playing games? Facebook? Email? Very serious expressions on their faces, too. Life or death it appeared, but most likely just their zombie faces while engaged in electronic communications.
I also noted there were people from every stripe of life. White folk, black folk, brown folk, old folk, young folk, folks alone, folks with the whole family. A few who appeared financially secure and a few who would appear to be worried this might cost more than they had.
There was a muffled commotion in the entry hall. A man was moaning, breathing hard. I glance around to see a burly hispanic man in one of those guerny/wheelchair contraptions. I was wearing sunglasses, a black tee and there were a few tatoos, but not many. A woman was with him. They wheeled him in, just a few seats down from me to the left, just beyond the elderly lady I had first encountered. (This is when they called her in).
The poor guy, all big and buff, was in misery. He complained he was cold. Could he have a blanket? His companion knocked on the door to the locked examination area. Someone emerged, came near him. "Sorry, we can't give you a blanket." "Why not?" "You haven't had your vitals done yet." "I"m freezing," he pleaded. His companion asked, "Please, he's so cold." "Not until we do his vitals," the nurse assistant said, and turned back into the exam room. The scene was repeated with another nurse assistant. He was remarkably restrained, but was obviously chilled to the bone. He kept asking, "Why? Why no blanket? Who ever heard of that?" Shortly after that they took him in. I hope he got his blanket, poor guy.
It was finally my turn. One hour wait, but between writing my pages, and observing my fellow waiters, I was in. A nurse took my vitals. I almost asked about a blanket, but decided not to. The nurse warmed up as we chatted about having worked or nearly worked for the coroner and in hospitals.
Once I saw the PA, and he gave me the prescriptions, I trotted over to the pharmacy. The first young man must have had the same training as the receptionist guy in the UC. No smile, no acknowlegement to "How are you?" Just, "Three? Give us ten minute." I did. I waiting by the board of flashing names. When your name appears, you're rx's are ready. I waited. Ten minutes (more or less). My name appeared. I snapped a picture. I went to the line and was called up by a friendly, smiling young lady. "Here you go," she said sweetly. It felt good to hear a friendly voice. "The pharmacist will be right over to go over these with you. Anything else?" "No, thank you." I wanted to compliment her on her demeanor, but held my tongue. She might think me sarcastic, which would not be the intention.
The pharmacist, obviously overworked, or busy, or just a bit grumpy, mumbled a few words about each item. "Apply this creme sparingly," is all I remember really. And I was done!
I wanted to put on the creme and take the first doses of the meds right away as the itching and burning was starting up again, but I refrained until I got home. But when I did apply the creme and take the meds, it felt like the healing had begun. I thought you would like to know. I doubt the UC staff would be all that concerned, so I won't call them.