I’ve been sick since late August.
I’ve got a rattle in my chest that would make some poisonous Madison County snakes jealous.
I’ve done telemedicine with my primary care doctor.
The treatment she prescribed ended and my cough remained.
It was a Monday. My doctor was out of the office until Wednesday.
I have asthma and must watch chest colds because they can create nasty complications that lead to me not being able to breathe.
Let me assure you, breathing is not overrated as a biological process.
So, I visited a local urgent care.
“Do you have a reservation?” the woman at the desk asked.
Did I accidentally go into a restaurant?
Stretcher for one.
No, the woman said. They prefer patients reserve their spot online.
Reserve your spot at an urgent care clinic.
Let’s think about this for a moment.
Urgent means “pressing, insistent, and troublesome.”
For example, one would think a person goes to place called “urgent care” if they had a medical issue that was somewhere above an annoying cold but below broken bones and gunshot wounds.
“Reserve” means to “keep back or save for future use.”
Reservations imply time that urgency doesn’t allow.
When the medical industry started to push urgent care clinics in the 1990s, the idea was a person could drop in any time to receive care.
In fact, people sometimes called them “drop-in clinics.”
I don’t go to urgent care often. I guess the rules have changed.
These days people go online and reserve their urgent time.
The woman at the desk said they could still see me, but it would be about 90 minutes, maybe more.
I trundled over to a seat and collapsed into an extra-wide seat.
The waiting room had some vapid chat afternoon chat show, the kind where a bunch of low-rent celebrities demonstrate to Americans how to move their chins up and down rapidly while constantly emanating uninformed nonsense.
I folded my arms around my walker and put my head down.
I feel into a kind of feverish sleep.
I woke up sweaty and sore.
The programing on the TV had changed to something even more intolerably vapid: the local evening news.
The waiting room had a second TV. It displayed a list of names in a spreadsheet form.
Several names were highlighted in blue. The rest where in white.
The names in blue had the word “ARRIVED” beside them.
The names in white had “PENDING” next to them.
Good Lord, I thought. I hadn’t gone to a restaurant. I’d gone to the airport.
If I must strip for the TSA agent, I hope they have the decency to check my breathing with a stethoscope.
They finally called me back. I saw a nurse and a nurse practitioner.
I wonder how many varieties of nurse I could have seen if I’d had a reservation.
The nurse practitioner prescribed some medicine.
I trundled out my car, wheezing and hacking all along the way.
I had arrived that urgent care shortly after 4 p.m.
I left shortly after 7 p.m.
I sped to the pharmacy, which closed at 8 p.m.
I got there, but my prescription wasn’t ready. They told me to come back in 15 minutes.
At least the drugs were reserved, I thought.
Former journalist and current middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney writes a column for the Marion County Express.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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