In Pustules and in Health

Here’s more about the body, this time about the body when it’s ailing:  One of our honorary kids called me from school once to see if I could bring him to the pediatric practice that oversaw his care. He said he had a rash that was just tormenting him and the school nurse was stumped.

“She had no idea what it was,” he told me when I picked him up at 2:30. “She said, ‘Well, this one on your neck could be a bug bite, and this place on your arm could be heat rash, and this on your foot could be irritation from your shoes. I thought how likely is it that it’s three separate things?’”

When he first phoned me I had asked him to call the pediatrician’s office to see if they could fit us in.  But oops he didn’t do that, as he told me while we were pulling into the parking lot of the medical building. Thus did we present ourselves, all unexpected, at the receptionist’s desk.

“Can I help you?” she greeted us pleasantly. 

“I have this rash,” said the teen, holding his arms out for inspection. She glanced over at me.

“And … you have an appointment?”

“No, actually,” I stammered. “We just thought it might be as easy to make the appointment in person as over the phone.” 

She looked at the two of us,  one blooming in pustules and the other feebly smiling. She looked down at her book.

‘I can fit you in at 6:45,” she said.

It was 3:15.

I didn’t know what to say to that. Could the boy miss practice? Miss dinner? I wasn’t sure I could really make that call. And the boy himself went totally mute.

“So … you’ll come back?” she asked, but still we just looked at her, buffaloed.

“Okay, well how about this? How about I write you in for 6:45 and you can also wait here now, in case something opens up in the next 40 minutes. Do you want to take that chance?”

We nodded gratefully. And sure enough, in 10 minutes’ time, his name was called and seven minutes after that he had been diagnosed with a fine case of poison ivy and sent on his way with the name of the magical relief-bringing cream.

I think of all this now because I’ve recently been speaking with an RN friend  who was advising me how to help someone in my family get an appointment with her own doctor sooner rather than later.

“Tell him to be very pleasant when he calls but also to say he needs to be seen. Then, if he goes in there, he should be even more pleasant and wait patiently until someone can speak with him.”

Amazing huh? So maybe you really can just show up and stand there with your foolish smile in hopes that they’ll work you in.  But if they do  – IF THEY DO – it won’t be because you were just that nervy but because they were just that nice. And I wouldn’t try this very often either.

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