That Time I Went to the Urgent Care


It’s not that I fear going to the doctor, or that I don’t trust modern medicine or anything. I’m just supremely lazy about making an appointment with a doctor, even when I’m suffering from an extended illness.

Unless I’m bleeding profusely or lying in a pool of my own vomit, I’ll find any excuse not to see a professional. But after suffering from a months-long cold this winter I finally had enough and stopped at the urgent care near my office one afternoon on my way home from work.

First of all, it’s a little awkward waltzing into an urgent care in a paisley day dress and heels and no immediately obvious symptoms. And the nurse who escorts me to exam room makes a point of telling me I look nice, as if I dressed up just for this and she wants to acknowledge my effort. After a cursory interview she leaves me alone to wait for the next person. I would say “for the doctor,” but no one at the urgent care ever uses that title and nothing about this guy’s demeanor says “medical school graduate.” The walls are exceptionally thin, so I can hear him in the next room talking about other patients and when he comes in he doesn’t even introduce himself. As far as I know, he may not have had any medical training whatsoever—there are no diplomas on the wall at the urgent care.

After swiftly diagnosing me with a sinus infection (I mean, I could have told him that much but he’s the one with the prescription pad) “Doctor” Whoever offers me a couple options. Either they can hook me up to an IV for a little while or they can give me a steroid shot and send me home with a prescription for antibiotics. I assume this is one of those scenarios where you give someone one bad option and one terrible option to make the bad one sound more appealing. Obviously, I opt for the shot.

When the nurse comes back in to give me the steroids she pulls two syringes out of her pocket, uncaps one and holds them up to my face.

“Look how thick these needles are,” she says. “These can’t go in your arm. We’ll have do these in your glutes.”

Which, ok. If you need to give me a shot in the butt, whatever—but don’t force me to marvel at the needle’s girth beforehand.

While she’s giving me the first shot I start to feel woozy, and I have to lie down as soon as she’s done. I have a long history of passing out at inconvenient moments, so I’m not that worried about it, but the nurse starts to freak out even as she tells me it’s a common reaction. She runs to get me some candy and a glass of water.

After a while she comes back with a couple Jolly Ranchers and a styrofoam cup, but before she hands me the water she says, “I need to tell you something,” and holds up the cup, the rim of which is broken.

“I want to let you know that no one bit this cup. It’s just broken, but it’s the last one we have.”

So obviously someone definitely bit a piece out of the rim of this cup, because she’s trying really hard to convince me otherwise, but I’m too lightheaded to care and honestly, I’m more concerned that I’m receiving medical care in a place that can’t afford to stock enough cups for the water cooler. While I’m starting to come around she tells me that she needs to give me the second shot, so we get that over with and she leaves me to lie down for a while longer.

When she comes in to check on me again she tells me her shift is over, but she wants me to rest for a while longer and says she’ll “find someone to stay with me.”

A few minutes later, in walks a middle-aged man in jeans and a t-shirt. He sits in the chair next to the exam table where I’m still lying in semi-conciousness and starts asking me how I’m feeling. Then he begins to tell me about how effective the steroids are and keeps calling them “magic medicine.” I’m going to assume this guy is also not a doctor.

Eventually I’m able to piece together that this is the owner of the urgent care, and at that point I realize we know each other. I’ve definitely met this guy before when I worked at the Chamber of Commerce and he was opening this facility. I’m pretty sure I even helped organize a ribbon-cutting ceremony at his request. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to recognize me and the awkwardness is enough to bring me fully to, so I can gather my things and head to the front desk to pay my bill and pick up my prescription.

For the record, the most notable effect of the steroids is a sore butt for the next few days, not instant relief of my symptoms, and the antibiotics make me so sick to my stomach I have to stop taking them. So maybe the effort of seeing an actual doctor with a diploma on his wall is worth it after all.


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