The nice lady sitting up straight behind the desk was tapping away on her keyboard and looking at her monitor. I sat slumped on the other side of the desk, the boy beside me, waiting to pay yet another co-pay. The nice lady paused and muttered, “Hmmm…..” Then she looked up and half questioned me, “Well, I see that this is the boy’s first time visiting Urgent Care?”
I’m pretty sure the laughter that came out of me disturbed the walking pneumonia lady 3 seats away.
“Oh no…..there’s some mistake. The boy has been here many times before. He’s a regular customer.”
I was pleased to see that my favorite chair was available in the Urgent Care waiting room that Thursday morning. I had a good view of Regis and Kelly on the TV. I wasn’t near the drafty, constantly in motion, door. On my right hand side was the table that always had the best real magazines. The in-house promotional medical magazines were always kept on the table across the room, near the drafty door. I picked up a copy of a 2008 Redbook and tried to decide if I would read the “Easter Fun for All Ages!” article or take the quiz on page 142 that would tell me if my marriage was “Heavenly Blissful, Rock Solid, Truthfully Terrible or Ignorantly Even”.
The pneumonia lady made it hard to concentrate on my reading. She kept hacking and quietly moaning. The impatient father in the corner kept looking at his watch and sighing. He kept telling 4 year old Kayla that someone would look at her ear soon, very soon. The teenager in the football jersey sitting across from me couldn’t fit his foot in a shoe. His foot was purple and swollen. He texted the entire time he waited. His mom absentmindedly kept running her hand along his shoulders and asking, “How does it feel now, sweetie?” The middle aged woman in the corner sat hunched and held her back with one hand. She told her husband, “That is the LAST time I am ever going to do THAT! Mark my words!”
We all turned our heads as the hairy, sweaty workman in overalls walked in. He held his right arm funny and walked a bit sideways. In his left hand he held a brown paper bag. He walked up to the nice lady behind the desk. “May I help you?” she asked him.
“Yeah. I was working over at the Burger King installing their new playground. I slipped and fell and impaled myself on this. I ripped it out of myself and put it in this bag. I figured the doctor would need to see it.”
He opened the bag to show the nice lady. The nice lady’s eyes grew wide. “Oh dear. Wow! Now THAT must not have felt very good at all. How unusual. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
The entire waiting room craned their heads toward the man in overalls, desperate to see what was in that paper bag.
At that moment a nurse came into the waiting room and called the boy’s name.
I was pleased to see that the boy and I were ushered to my favorite Urgent Care room. It had walls, not curtains. It had the most interesting paintings on the walls, not just pictures of kittens and strawberries. It also had the cool inner ear and nose diagram poster. The room next door only had the proper coughing and sneezing technique poster. And just as I had hoped, the 2009 College Basketball Preview Sports Illustrated was hidden behind the Spanish language influenza flyers in the magazine rack-right where I had left it last time.
When the doctor finally arrived, she exclaimed to the boy, “I have never, ever heard of such a thing. I can honestly say that you are my first tetherball injury. I had no idea it was such a violent game!”
The doctor turned to me. “Do you know the way to the X-ray room?" Which really meant, "The boy will need many, many, very expensive X-rays that will give him cancer when he is 47.”
I said to the doctor, “Yes, I know the way.” Which really meant, “Are you kidding me? Not only do I know how to get to X-ray, I also know two shortcuts in those back “restricted” hallways. And this time I’m gonna beat my record of 1 minute and 23 seconds. Last time the boy and I got behind that lady with the walker and we lost 12 precious seconds.”
While waiting for the boy to be X-rayed, I visited the secret bathroom only the employees knew about. It still had that fabulous vanilla melon scented soap. I chatted with Serena M. who checked the boy in. She’d finally had her baby. His pictures were adorable. And I flipped through the January 2010 People magazine. They always had the most current magazines in X-ray.
The boy left Urgent Care with his arm in a sling and his lower arm in a brace, instructions to take a lot of pills and a sheet of physical therapy exercises. On our way out, we walked past Ray, the security guard. “Oh dear, BOY! You can’t possibly be back here again? Weren’t you just here a month or two ago…or was that your sister? Please tell me what you have done to yourself this time.”
The boy told his story.
“I was playing tetherball at recess with a tall kid. He swung the ball really high above my head. I jumped up to hit the ball. I missed the ball and instead the rope wrapped quickly, all around my arm, really tight. When I came down, I found my entire body dangling, held up by the rope that was wound around my arm. I have a bunch of super nasty red marks and a ton of ugly bruising. My forearm is sprained and the doctor said I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder. It all hurts a lot.”
Security guard Ray shook his head in disbelief. He patted the boy on the head and told me to say hello to the teenager. “It’s been a few months since she’s been in, hasn’t it? She's probably due.”
Check This Out—A co-worker of the husband shared this interesting homemade cookie a few days ago. He sandwiched peanut butter between two Ritz crackers and covered the whole thing in chocolate. I haven’t had time to look up a recipe, but you definitely should. It was reeaallly gooood.