Friday, February 20, 2004

Landmines & Liquid Soap

I guess my diet is starting to catch up with me. Tuesday after lunch, my stomach started feeling a bit queasy. Perhaps my grease levels are at their max, I don't know. Anyway, I wasn't feeling well the rest of the evening & woke up the next morning feeling much the same. So, I called my doctor's office to try to get in that morning. After waiting on hold for an hour (I kid you not), I finally spoke to one of the admissions people. It went something like this:

Admin: What do you need to be seen for today?
Me: After lunch yesterday, my stomach started hurting. Now it's moving up to the top of my stomach, just under my ribcage. I'm worried that my gastrointestinal system is finally revolting against me after years of unhealthy eating & that it's going to take over my brain.
Admin: Let me see if we have any openings...I'm sorry, the only openings we have today are for acute problems. Yours is acute, but...
Me: ...but not a"cute" enough? Haaaaahahahahahaaaa...
Admin: *Ahem* Anyway, the soonest I can get you in is next Tuesday.
Me: Next Tuesday? I'll be dead by then. My stomach will have completely consumed me. I'm telling you, it's gunning for the top spot in my body!
Admin: I'm sorry, sir. You can try calling in tomorrow morning. We tell our patients to try calling in right at 7:30.
Me: I've been waiting on the phone for an hour. You mean to tell me that all this time that I've been stuck in Please Hold Hell has been wasted? I played - & lost - 17 straight games of solitaire for nothing?
Admin: Were you playing regular solitaire or Vegas style?
Me: Vegas style. I was down $274.
Admin: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. Well, the only advice I can give you if you want to be seen today is to try the Urgent Care office.
Admin: And to stay away from Las Vegas.
Me: Gee, thanks...

So, I got myself dressed & headed down to the Urgent Care. I determined that if I went & there was a line out the door (not unusual), I'd just wait & call in to my regular doctor the next morning.

I got there &, amazingly, found a relatively close parking spot. When I got to the check-in, I found that they had renovated the office & took all of the seating out. So, I signed in on a slip of paper & handed it to the nurse. She walked away & then returned with a device that looked like a landmine. Or a coffee cup warmer. One of the two. Turned out that it was actually a pager. I was told that they would page me when they were ready for me. I asked where the waiting room seating was now located & she directed me down the hall & around a corner. Thus the need for the pager/mine/cup warmer. So, I headed to the waiting area. When I got there, I was greeted with the sight of about five other patients waiting. Now, there may have been more, but there were quite a few extra people that may have been family members. I didn't ask them, so I can't be positive.

I found myself a seat & some light reading material (the local edition of Lands & Home) & settled in for a bit of a wait. Unfortunately, there was a child there with a mother that apparently didn't seem to think anyone else minded hearing her child talk & scream as loud as possible. I minded. All I could hear was the kid yelling & the mother saying, very softly, "Don't do that" & calling her name - as if a three year old would respond to this.

My pager finally went off (or got ready to explode) & I went back to the check-in. They pointed me over to a nurse in a cubicle so they could take my vitals. I was able to get right back to the check-in station to pay my co-pay, which was convenient, otherwise, I would've had to have waited for them to page me again.

Unfortunately, I still had to go back to the waiting room. At this point, I'd been waiting for a little over two hours, which, sadly, was better than I thought it'd be. The last time I went to Urgent Care, I arrived at about one o'clock & left (the emergency room) at about nine o'clock.

I finally got called in to the examination area - & waited again. I think I read half of a Readers' Digest from last October while I was there. The doctor came in &, in this order & the time that it takes you to read this, introduced himself, asked what was wrong, poked me in the stomach & left. A bit later, he came back & told me that he was going to have me drink some concotion that would settle my stomach & numb it to ease the discomfort.

Shortly after that, a nurse brought in a cup of what looked to be green liquid hand soap. It had the same consistency. It even smelled like liquid soap. So, I braced myself & threw the cocktail back. I found out that it also tasted like hand soap. And to top it off, the numbing agent in the mix coated not only my stomach, but, of course, my throat & tongue. After a few minutes of forcing myself to swallow, I finally started to regain feeling. And, once again, Dr. Flash came in, looked at me & then sent me on my way.

It was now almost one o'clock & I was finally on my way.

All that & I didn't even get a lollipop.