I fought tooth and nail against the hospital visit. The very fibers of my being were screaming to stay home, stay away from “that place”. I’d been to that hospital numerous times, both in the ER and outpatient. In fact, our family practitioner and pediatrician (at least for now) are located in a building adjacent to that ER.
But with the way that our world is now, with the stories that people shared of hospitals, the ER sounded like a downright scary place, even though my mom had recently been and she is perfectly fine.
For context it all started with what I deemed to be an innocent cough which would bother me every time I talked. Soon, it turned into a cough that drove me insane every time I took a deep breath. It became one of the most unproductive coughs I’ve had the pleasure of going through, rocking my body with every outburst.
I explained it away to myself, and anyone around me (namely my husband and my parents), convinced that I was looking at seasonal allergies, or something quite innocent. It made sense: I had no fever, no shortness of breath, no loss of taste or smell. Because what does everyone start thinking the moment they hear the word cough, COVID-19, right?
After two weeks, I’d finally coughed one time too many. With an unproductive cough such as I had, my body was working very hard to get anything out, to make it worth my while. Between the cough, the kids, work, and lack of sleep, I woke up one faithful day to a muscle spasm on my right side.
Again, I figured it would just go away after a day or two (silly me, I know!), but two days later, the coughing combined with the spasm brought tears to my eyes. The time had come for action.
Now, I have the wonderful opportunity to use something called Teledoc through our insurance carrier, and what a phenomenal service it is. Usually. I made a quick appointment, the doctor called me in less than five minutes. A wonderful, caring woman, she took down as much information as possible and knew I needed muscle relaxants. What she couldn’t do, however, was actually prescribe them.
This may lead me on a tirade because apparently the company that manufactures that medication, does not allow it to be prescribed in such a way. Instead, an appointment has to be made with a doctor, such as a primary care physician, who will either send it electronically, or give you the prescription. I thanked her for her time, and had to make a call to find a doctor.
I don’t want to get to deep into the doctor visit itself, but she prescribed said medication, gave me an order for an X-Ray, and I was on my way. That is, until the next day. Without much problem, I took care of the X-Ray, then went home in the hopes of relaxing the rest of the day. Boy, was I wrong.
In an effort to stem the pain, I decided to use heat, which only made things worse, almost instantly. Half bent over, I talked to my mom on the phone. Between her and my husband, they pushed me to go to the ER, to try and find some sort of answer or relief. So, off I went.
I am used to the hospital being a place of utter chaos; of madness. The ER, usually a full place, was almost empty. The moment that my mom and I entered, a lady stopped us in the no-mans land between one sliding door and the next, checking my temperature and gathering data. She then informed me, my mom could not come in.
Alone I went. Polite, the tech asked me to sit in a place of triage that had never been there, more or less right in the center of the room. I was thankful for the place being mostly empty as the techs, with more masks on than I care to count and me with my own trying not to cough, tried to ask questions I would deem personal at any other point in time.
Vitals collected, they asked me to wait in one of the chairs, in a room that was almost devoid of anyone else. The receptionist even called my cell phone so that she did not have to be in contact with anyone else. After an hour, the wait was over.
The nurse that came to get me took me aback at first. A wonderful and caring woman, most likely no older than myself, came out in gear I had never seen on one human besides pictures over the past couple of months. Immediately, I wondered how children must feel when they see someone like that. But she was covered from head to toe. She had on multiple masks and a face shield. Gloves, a head covering, pony tail, and a disposable apron as I’d call it, covering her entire outfit.
She took me to my room, where again it was mostly empty, and ask that I not wander out of the room if at all possible. Within a minute or two she came right back with a test for the coronavirus, which I am surprised to say was not that bad. I am not a fan of the flu test because it feels like someone is touching my brain, but she was understanding and gentle.
I didn’t wait too long for the doctor, who after listening to my issues, decided after hearing my wonderful cough that I must have bronchitis. And I have to say it was honestly not what I expected. She prescribed me a whole host of medication to help combat the cough and the pain in my side, after which the nurse gave me pain meds and a shot to relax the muscles. Pure bliss. I was out of the hospital without seeing anyone else.
The experience was a surreal one, almost as if I had been walking in a haze. The ER was a place I’d bring a support person to, someone to hold your hand if you need it, but this was not the case.
I made small chit chat with the nurse, amazed how the people on the front lines have managed to stay sane. Throughout all of it, all of the extra steps and the worry of exposure, she never made me feel it. Neither did the doctor. They were caring, letting me know they were there to help in any way they could to make sure I didn’t suffer longer than I had to. They became that support person you could no longer bring until the world goes back to normal. And I cannot believe that they had been doing that this entire time.
All in all, though I knew life had changed with everything “cancelled” as my oldest always says, it didn’t sink in properly until that moment when I realized I needed help from a place that I didn’t know I would be safe at. In the end, everyone did everything they could to make sure everyone there stayed safe, even if it took a little longer, and sacrifices had to be made along the way.
Wanted to share a quick pic. I’d been making some masks for the family throughout the past couple of weeks. This was the mask that I had on me at the hospital. I cannot believe every employee at the hospital wears one (or more) all the time. I had only been there about three hours, and my face became all red and blotchy at the end, the feeling of the mask on my face lasting for hours afterward.