Friday, April 4, 2014

Urgent Care

My days are filled with serendipity. Sometimes good and sometimes not. Yesterday in the midst of my plans to do other things, my husband tripped and hurt his ankle. He seemed to be in a lot of pain, so I suggested we go to urgent care to have it looked at.

Kaiser seems like a huge factory of health care. It was late afternoon and people who’d fiished their work day were pouring out. Urgent care had just opened and the waiting room was empty. They took my husband right away and since it was an unexpected trip and I had no chance to bring my crocheting with and the only magazine offering was a Macy’s catalog, I was left to people watch to fill the time.

The set up was supposed to keep the people waiting in line a discreet distance from whoever the receptionist was checking in. Not a plan that worked. I was sitting across the room and could hear just about every detail of people coming in.

It wasn’t like I meant to be nosey, but there wasn’t any way to avoid it. And I have to admit, I was fascinated by each person’s situation.

A man came in and explained that he had terrible back pain while at the same time trying to flirt with the receptionist. He was grunting and groaning when he eased himself into the chair next to me. He was too theatrical and I started thinking he was just there trying to get pain meds.

The next woman said she had stomach pain and had been vomiting what looked like coffee grounds. I was instantly worried for her because I know that coffee ground description is a very bad sign.

An older foreign woman was the next arrival. She tried to reenact a fall she’d had earlier and then explained that she had tried taking Tylenol, but the pain was getting worse. The receptionist tried to get her to point out exactly what hurt. The woman said it was her fingers. She repeated it several times, getting a little more specific, saying her fingers were big and black. The receptionist seemed confused and asked the woman if she meant her toes. The woman insisted it was her fingers. The receptionist finally said that the woman while the woman was talking about her fingers, she was looking down at her toes. I don’t think they ever got it straightened out which appendages were injured. Hopefully, the doctor figured it out.

A young man in a red tee shirt went up to the window. He had a handful of problems. He seemed to have a reoccurrence of a sore throat and he’d fallen in his shower and wanted his shoulder looked at. He was most concerned about his throat since he explained he was a singer.

Most of the people were a touch disheveled looking which is what you’d expect when people were feeling under the weather, but the next arrival seemed just the opposite. She was stylishly dressed in boots, jeans and a loose fitting sweater with her sunglasses hanging from the middle of the neckline. Her shoulder length dark hair looked expensive, like she used the best of hair products and went to a fancy salon. From a distance her face seemed youthfully taut, though her lips seemed a little off. She was there because she’d been having chest pains, which surprised me because who goes to urgent care thinking they’re having a heart attack looking that put together? She also seemed rather young for a heart attack.

She disappeared for a while and I assume they took her off to do some kind of test. When she returned, she was with an older man. Her husband? But he seemed so much older. And then I looked a little closer and underneath the facade of the young looking outfit, I detected a much older woman. The lips that seemed off had been artificially plumped up. The dark hair was only that color with help. Her face smooth was botox. You can run, but you cannot hide. Her heart knew the truth.

Three hours and a lot more eavesdropping later, my husband finally was ready to leave. No break, just a sprain. No more ace bandages and toughing it out like I did in the old days, now it is ice packs and prescriptions. As we walked out through the automatic doors, I couldn’t help but think how everybody who came in had a story – The only trouble was I didn’t get to hear the ending.


Linda O. Johnston said...

Maybe you can use some or all of what you overheard in novels sometime, Betty, and you can make up your own endings. And I'm glad your husband's injury, as bad as it was, wasn't worse.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, nothing is ever wasted. You're right, one of those people could show up in a book.

Monica Ferris said...

I love to people watch. Your descriptions were very vivid.

Planner said...

Fascinating stories! I'm sure you left extremely grateful for your own good health.

I hope your husband's ankle heals very quickly.

Michelle said...

A high school friend of mine would occasionally forget the right English word for what she was trying to say. One day, she had to wrack her brain forever before coming up with "foot fingers" -- she meant toes. So maybe it was the woman's toes that were injured.

Urgent care is always interesting, isn't it?

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, people watching is the best!

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, Yes, I was grateful that I walked out of there with nothing more than a slight hunger headache.

Betty Hechtman said...

Michelle. how interesting. I'm sure you're right!