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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4 thoughts on “In Pustules and in Health

  1. Wow, I’d been going to the wrong places! When I had a chronic health issue and lived in MA in the late 80s, I used to drive 45 minutes to one or another of Boston’s “fine” medical institutions twice a week, sometimes more. (And I’d just learned to drive at the elderly age of 23 because where I grew up you took the T everywhere and didn’t need a car or license): picture me coming off 93 onto Storrow drive, winding my way through to the Hospitals, in the snow? And despite the trial by ice, I still didn’t become “a Boston driver”, as it would be revealed I was more of a Central California driver. I was just lucky (if not mature enough to be grateful) I could drive at all (which I now love to do) and had access to a car!

    Always had an appointment, made at the conclusion of the previous one. Average (or is it “mean”, can never remember. I’ll call it mean, it FELT mean) time for me to sit there and wait for my appointment was 2.5 hours!! This was at the Brigham and Women. The Lahey Clinic mean wait time was more like 3 hours! I kid you not! Good thing it was possible, in my field at that time to work from home on my little Amiga computer! I pity and pray for those who can’t drive, have no car, have bosses who are not compassionate (or have no “room” for compassion), have inflexible jobs, and had no way to make up the work at odd hours. How on earth do they survive? (Excepting the maxim that “God wil provide”, sometimes he hides the Easter Eggs better than other times 😉

    Even though I KNEW I’d have a long wait, I always had tremendous anxiety about getting there on time, traffic being what it was Pre-Big Dig Days, probably even today, I also just KNEW that if I were late, either that would be the day they were on time, OR, that their policy was “check-in time” not, “did you arrive before they were ready for you”, and I’d get yelled at. Ah, times weren’t so very nice, back then, and I was SUPER nice, all the time. Because I was a doormat in those days, and that was they only way I COULD be! It just occurred to me that perhaps my niceness DID help, who knows how things may have been more difficult if I’d been more difficult?

    Wow, I just did 20 minutes of self-therapy! I’m SO grateful I made it through those times, that God stepped in a few times (I just know he did), and again, I pray for those who don’t have the lucky breaks I had, which I didn’t completely appreciate for their magnitude at the time.

    Thanks so much, Terry! I feel a lot better! And, just so you know for future reference, I smile when I mean it now. Reached the level of “authentic emotions” before I hit 50!

    1. i loved this comment and the self-therapy it gave you.. Remember I can always edit a bit as I often have to do as the moderator here..
      Can I come take lessons from you on that whole not smiling inauthentically thing? 😉

      1. You can come take lessons, heck, we can swap secrets, (& Peaks sure is Purty, any time of year) or, you can wait for the book I’m (only half jokingly) writing “Diary of a Recovering Doormat”! Buster says he’s always happy to help people have a nice authentic smile experience 🙂 (Course, right now he’s a-whinin and a-grumblin at me, wants his W*A*L*K, ‘cept of course, just now, I DON’T!). Thanks much for your reassurance!

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