Scenes from a Sunday morning waiting room

I had a morning of solidarity with the little people today. You know the ones. Just under three feet tall, sticky fingers, still mastering large multisyllabic words. And apparently, sick quite often, if the local urgent care center is any indication.

I wandered into the waiting room of my local urgent care reluctantly this morning. Very reluctantly. After a nasty bout with the flu last week, I am happy just to be mildly ambulatory. And by happy, I mean just alert enough to care.

So, it was with great hesitation that I approached a place teeming with germs. The place people go when they’re so sick it’s—well—urgent. But after having to cancel every call and meeting I had last week, this week needs me at something approaching full speed. And the lovely cough that accompanied this flu—the hacking that makes me sound like a 90-year-old man named Artie from Long Island—well, that cough refuses to leave me.

So, while I think my reclaimed ambulation trick is a pretty nifty party trick,  and a sure sign of health returning, my friends and sister—really, anyone who has spoken to me via phone the past week—are telling me I sound like bronchitis and pneumonia waiting to happen. And they’re not going to let up until I can tell them an MD has seen me.

Hence, into the cesspool of teeming germs I ambled this morning. If you’re going to head into a cesspool of germs, bring gloves, I always say. I didn’t want to contaminate my good gloves so I was wearing the overly large pair my new wireless provider had given me as a free gift for signing with them. They were hideous and perfect for the job. It took several tries to pick up the sign-in pen with my Bozo the Clown hands flopping around (why DO they make those gloves so big?), but soon I was signed in and sitting gingerly on the edge of a chair—trying to avoid the white stains on the back of it, while not thinking too hard about what they could be.

As the admin asked me my name, checked my insurance info, etc., I heard the man next to me say, “I can’t see out of my right eye.” Or maybe it was, “I have pinkeye in my right eye.” Or, my distant third guess, “I’m giving you the stinkeye with my right eye.” I’m not really sure. But I was doubly glad I had kept on my garishly cheap polyester gloves when I signed in.

The woman helping me told me to wait in the waiting room. There were two. I pointed and said, “this one?” but she couldn’t see which I was referring to because the large floppy fingers on the gloves so eclipsed my own it just looked like my fingers were drooping like a sad lily.

After finding the right waiting area, I was soon joined by Mr. Stinkeye/Pinkeye. And minutes later, my partners in crime showed up: Julian, Brynne and a tiny thing so sick she was asleep on her dad. We’ll call her SparklePants. Because despite her somewhat sad condition, her pants did have sparkly polka dots all over them.

Julian, channeling a tiny Napoleon in his boots and unzipped coat, was having none of it. “Mommiiieeeee. Not THIS doctoh. MYyyyyyyy doctoh. Let’s go. No toys heeyah.” Mommy, whose name was Tara, appeared to be infected with the same creeping glick Julian had, based on their matching red noses. And Mommy appeared to be on her last leg. In cheetah-print cotton tennis shoes; green, yellow and red plaid pajama pants; and a bright purple hoodie emblazoned with “OUTER BANKS, NC” on it, Tara had seen better days (and hopefully better fashion). She was half sitting, half laying on the waiting room settee with her eyes closed, mumbling, “Julian, get back here. I mean it.”

Brynne watched the whole affair with big eyes, as she chatted in congested tones with her mom about what sounded like a character named Oingo Boingo. And this is where I may have been having an ‘80s flashback due to fever. Maybe it was Oinky Boinky. Whatever it was, Brynne had a lot to say in between sniffles.

SparklePants slept through it all. I think that was a wise move, particularly since her dad had sat down with her in the seat Stinkeye/Pinkeye had vacated just moments before. Just sleep through it, honey, and don’t touch anything.

I watched as Julian bounced from chair to chair, trailing snot as he went. His mother let out a brief snore as the volume went up in the room.

I thought it would be anti-climactic from there, but as I waited for the doctor in a treatment room, I heard the little hurricane marching into the room next to mine. “No good, no good, no good!” Julian screamed. I’m not sure if he meant his behavior or was still railing against the lack of toys. But either way, I was in agreement with him thus far about the whole experience. A little underwhelming, in my opinion.

The doctor came in, saying, “I’m Dr. Perestroika. What’s your problem?” To which, I raised an eyebrow. But, then she turned around and I saw the mask she was wearing, which muffled her words. As Dr. Perestroika (yeah, might be another ‘80s flashback, but we’re just gonna’ go with it) listened to my chest, Julian must have broken free into the hallway because I heard tiny boots running with increasing speed away from the room. And then screaming. Lots of screaming. You guessed it: “Me want toys. Pleeeeeaaazzzzzz.” I think he was making a break for it. Right on, my righteous brother. I say, go for it. This place is for the birds.

Dr. Perestroika yelled over the noise, “I don’t hear anything. Your lungs sound ok.” Really? That’s like saying you can’t hear the first notes of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as you sit at a construction site. I left with a prescription for a very expensive cough suppressant, an antibiotic prescription “just in case” and the beginnings of a nasty headache.

But, for now at least, no pneumonia. Or bronchitis.

Which is pretty much how I walked in.

I have a feeling my man Julian did not fare the same. As I headed out, the young doctor who had chased him down was carrying him back to the treatment room. I wanted to fist bump him on the way out, but I realized I was gloveless.

I stopped, thought for just a second. Nah. And just kept walking.

Some things are best kept in the rearview mirror–urgent care waiting rooms not least among them.

Stay well this flu season, my friends.




55 Comments Add yours

  1. I’ll say I’ve read this Post at the right time of my life. Bless you, and thanks for an amazing site.

    1. candidkay says:

      I guess that means you either needed a laugh or are ill. I hope it’s the former! And welcome to my blog:). Thanks for visiting!

      1. A little both of both. 😅

  2. George says:

    I want to laugh out loud and say I hope you’re feeling better in the same breath. You understand..:) Thise clinics are like a Petri dish… a necessary evil that you want to enter and escape from as quickly as possible. If I can only hold my breath long enough…:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Exactly, George! I felt like I was going to catch something new just by walking in:). If you can survive it, I’m sure they strengthen your immune system:).

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    Oh God, a week on and I hope you’re feeling better Kristine. That was a hilarious commentary on the absurdity of life generally, never mind the doctors’ emporium which is meant to make you feel better. I do worry about the medical system in the US if you are among the fortunate ones. (I must admit I tend to avoid children, offices, anywhere indoors where there are…people! The result is I’m rarely ill, but once every few years it hits with a vengeance.) I think you’ve hit upon a location for your first best-selling novel 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Roy! I’m two weeks out now and still super tired with a nasty cough. Sit this one out, won’t you? You’ll be glad you did:).

  4. mydangblog says:

    I hope you’re feeling better now. Thank goodness it wasn’t coronavirus!

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?! Ugh. Although they’re saying that virus is headed for a pandemic. I certainly hope not. All the inventions in the world–and we still can’t solve some of our medical problems. Doesn’t seem right . . .

  5. markbialczak says:

    Your sense of humor bounced back first, Kay. May you feel well this week, my friend.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Mark! Avoid the coughers😉

  6. Kristine, that sound awful! Keep well and sanitized!

  7. pirootb says:

    I read your post sitting inside an airport. Among news of coronavirus outbreak , in close proximity with lot of people whose travel history I don’t know, I already feel edgy. Your post pushed me over the edge now. 😷

    Is the lady sitting next to me sniffing? The one sitting across me sure has glazed eyes, maybe she is feverish. And that tall guy is surely dressed too warmly for the weather, he must have caught cold already. Some people are wearing mask but I am not. I remember someone told me I have a strong immunity system. Was it some doctor or was it my husband who often gives me odd compliments? My thought process and imagination are on an overdrive. Is this the onset of an infection?

    1. candidkay says:

      😂. I hear you. Those planes are definitely germ buckets at this time of year! Hopefully your flight was as germ-free as possible and you’re home sipping a cup of tea, feeling victorious.

      1. pirootb says:

        Thanks. But I am still at the airport 😒

  8. This was so funny and yet so flue and germ filled ! Get well soon

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Stay well :-).

  9. You have my sympathy, I’ve suffered a cold for the last two weeks and still can’t rid myself. Reminds me of the day I visited my sister in law days after giving birth, shockingly a cushioned chair in hr room had blood stains on it!

    1. candidkay says:

      Hope you feel better soon!

  10. Hi there. Flus and heavy colds suck. It’s amazing how they can drain us.

    I sometimes wonder how often doctors and nurses become infected by their patients. Maybe they somehow build up strong immunity.

    Get well soon.

    Neil S.

    1. candidkay says:

      I asked the doc that very thing. And she said most of us would be amazed at how vulnerable they still are even though they’re around it all the time. Hence the mask.

  11. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry but I’m glad you survived Kristine!

    1. candidkay says:

      I’d like to do both, but either one makes me go into a horrendous coughing fit. So I’ll just wave from afar :-).

      1. Take care and get well.

  12. srbottch says:

    Well, I hit miserable just listening to you and your wheezing chest. Heck, I. An hear it from here which is why they should put docs in those places instead of just wannabe docs. I sure hope you’re feeling better. Can you transmit whatever you have across the WordPress exchange. Yikes, I’m not feeling well…😉

    1. candidkay says:

      I promise this post was completely sanitized before pushing send, Steve :-).

  13. Karen Lang says:

    We can all relate to this comical experience! Although I haven’t thought of oversized gloves before ha! I hope you recover soon Kristine and can get back on with life ✨💕💚

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Karen! Stay well and out of urgent care centers :-).

  14. says:

    i am soooo sorry you had the miserable flu! I did call to check on you but had no idea that you were so sick – guess i just had a feeling – though i feel really bad for you i did get enjoyment out of your article picturing all in my mind as i read it – thanks for the smiles & please do get better – love you

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m on the mend. It’s just slooooow going. Thanks for the well wishes.

  15. I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with flu, but glad you’re mending. My husband still has the dregs of the cough he had after being down hard for the better part of a week. My son and I have escaped it thus far, and from what I read in our local paper the flu is coming back around for round two. Hopefully your cough will work itself out of your system before long.

    1. candidkay says:

      Lysol it all down, my friend! And a Facebook friend just told me this cough lasts for 6-8 weeks. I certainly hope not! Geez.

  16. Dale says:

    I feel your pain, Kristine! I was sick like a dog before Christmas. The whole knife-swallowing pain, the cough… lasted forever. I am only thankful that I go to a private clinic. Between you and me, paying $110, to sit (briefly) in a quiet waiting room where there are no screaming kids is worth every penny. Everyone kept a seat between them and no one touched anything. The one kid was off to the side watching the TV playing something appropriate. And like you, coming out with a prescription in case the strep test came back positive (which it didn’t, making the $110 spend all the more frustrating).
    Hope you are better soon!

    1. candidkay says:

      Wow. All that and I bet there was no white goo on the seats:). I’m so glad you’re better. This one is taking me a bit to get over. Can’t talk much without a coughing fit . . .

      1. Dale says:

        Nope. No unnamed goo on the seats. It took a good month, just so you know. Hope it leaves your body soon!

  17. Thanks for the giggle Kristine, I went for a hospital visit the other day… only because others were telling me… you’d better get yourself checked out! I knew that they wouldn’t be able to help my skin condition and that it would go over when it was ready… I also knew I’d meet many people who would be coughing and snorting, truly infectious in the waiting areas. Hospitals and doctors are hugely busy these days!

    I was right! And I feel for you. I advice, time off to rest, honey, lemon, hot water and whisky toddy before you go to bed! Much love and wellness❤️ Barbara x

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Barbara! Working on that “time off” bit. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards for divorced breadwinning moms. Hmm . . . perhaps a broken system:). Glad you’re on the mend!

  18. Ugh, we’ve all been there. Hubby and I recently sat for SIX HOURS in the ER waiting room – and he had a ruptured appendix! Meanwhile, people were coming in with obvious signs of contagious illnesses, and only a few of them thought to wear masks. I kept them away from my husband as best I could. Of course, once the surgery was done the next day, he was on so many varieties of antibiotics that no flu or pneumonia could take hold anyway. It’s been a few weeks now, and I’m still healthy, so yay. Glad you’re still as healthy as you were when you arrived at urgent care, and hopefully you’re doing better now.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh my! A ruptured appendix is supposed to be so painful, I’m surprised he didn’t pass out. They’re lucky infection didn’t take hold. I realized when my youngest was little that the quickest way to get taken back in a hospital ER is to throw up. He threw up and we were never whisked back so quickly:). Glad to hear hubby is fine!

      1. I begged hubby to let me call a an ambulance – if you go in by ambulance, you get taken into the back immediately. He was too proud – didn’t want the neighbors to see him being carried out of the house. Hence, the 6-hour wait in the outer room. Men!

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh geez! I think I would Take an ambulance over a ruptured appendix any day!

  19. Thankfully my flu season is a few months away yet, I’m still suffering this lovely warm weather down under Kristine 😀
    But when needed I go to the medical centers with mask on regardless of the season, as it is as you said, full of sick people (and sick terror tots). The hide of them disturbing the centers harmony and peace like that. I want to turn up and lower my stress not escalate it 😀
    I do hope your body is turning a corner and responding to its owners love. If not I’m sending a little healing energy your way so it will ease the heart and soul. I promise I won’t tickle 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ll welcome all healing energy! Thank you:). Soak up that sunshine and Vitamin D for me . . . and I’ll keep my hacking in the Northern hemisphere:).

  20. Su Leslie says:

    Yuk. A recipe to make the sick sicker. Thyme leaves made into tea with honey is excellent for coughs, as is garlic. You can add the garlic to the above — it works — if you can quieten your brain which will be shouting “no f’n waay”.

    1. candidkay says:

      Will just raw garlic work? God, I hope so. Thyme turns my stomach since my pregnancies. Odd, right? Never minded the stuff before then.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Garlic’s strength I think is in boosting your immune system. I’ve heard of people mixing garlic and honey and eating it.
        There are a bunch of natural things that are meant to help (and hopefully not harm). I found this link
        Interestingly, it was garlic that made me nauseous during my pregnancy. The only time I haven’t totally loved it, and luckily I recovered my taste for it.

  21. I certainly feel for you and want to say this was laugh out loud funny. Maybe cause when I go into any medical facility I know I’m going to die from what I get in there as opposed to what I brought with me.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, John, you pegged it! I went in recovering from the flu. And was surrounded by strep and God knows what else. It makes one question the middle-aged woman wisdom that forced me there:).

      1. I have had a number of procedures lately and Thank God I haven’t caught anything. One surgery I refused to have it in a general hospital. I went to a place that is only elective surgery. Of course, it was not in the network so I had to pay for the hospital myself. Small price to pay for not getting a staff infection from some burst bowel the operstion before mine. 😁 The gloves were a good idea.

      2. candidkay says:

        I’d offer to lend you the gloves but they are staying in that cesspool forever. I’m not going back for them :-).

      3. I don’t blame you. 😂

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