An Afternoon in Urgent Care

I’ve decided that as long as you aren’t in pain, Urgent Care isn’t such a bad place to be - as long as you’re well-prepared and the sight of blood doesn’t freak you out.

There is excitement. There is people watching at its most dramatic. There are super professional people managing extraordinary circumstances. There are jolts of adrenaline, such as when a scratchy announcement blasts through the speakers: “CODE BLUE OUTSIDE GREEN HOSPITAL! CODE BLUE!” Or when a guy with rivers of blood running down his body meanders casually up to the front desk and politely inquires about availability. Or when a sweating, fearful, athletic-looking 50-something - his entire body trembling to the point of convulsion - shouts, “I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK OR A STROKE, SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

And there you are, in the middle of it. You are not watching ER, though it’s sort of surprising how similar it is – like an episode with really bad, Proustian editing. You are there, in the easy-to-clean chairs, breathing the same stale air, and seeing it all in real life.  I had to choke down my urge to help as the first couple of dramas unfolded, but then felt guilty as I settled a little too comfortably into my role as passive observer.

I look at all of the faces around the room, and realize that most of these people woke up this morning, stretched, put both feet on the floor and meandered into the kitchen for their corn flakes, assuming it’d just be an ordinary day. Who would expect something like this?

And yet, every day it does happen. Meanwhile, I’m somewhere obliviously sucking down a Coke, changing a diaper, writing another website – or worse yet, complaining about my “bad day.” I am going to have to give myself shit the next time I catch myself whining.

Whoa. Here comes a family of five. Mom, Dad, three cute rugrats. They all look healthy, I note. I wonder what their story is. Then I see the little girl scratching. The mom jerks her thumb toward her daughter and tells the receptionist, “She got it first, now they’ve all got this nasty rash – and it’s just spreading like crazy.” She says this as I’m watching her other kids rubbing their butts all over the Naugahyde chairs.

It dawns on me that I’m wearing shorts. Suddenly, I’m feeling really itchy…

I take this as my cue to flee to the other main waiting room – the one outside the ER - and find a semi-secluded space. There, I rummage through my satchel, and with a snort of glee, retrieve my bottle of hand sanitizer. I squirt a glob into my hand and proceed to rub hand-sanitizer all over my butt before sitting down again.

DSC_0041Ages later, diagnosed with a minor stress fracture and newly outfitted with this horrible shoe, I walk out the doors of the hospital feeling deeply appreciative of my comparatively good health.

Best of all? While there, I accosted the doctor and managed to score references for a few highly-recommended doctors still taking new patients.

I struck gold, I tell you! Solid gold. Who'd think that my 5-hour wait would come with a such a useful bonus?


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >