Everyone I talk to tells me that “getting old sucks”. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t have doctor appointments spread throughout the week, I would stay home and do nothing. This week was no exception, because I spent one day at the Ophthalmologist’s office and two days in Urgent Care. When I said I was looking for a man this is not what I meant!
For five years I have waited to have my cataracts grow (ripen) enough to be removed. I have worn glasses or contacts since I was 7 years old. The thought of being able to wake up in the morning and see sharp images has enthralled me since my husband had his cataract surgery four years before he died and he was able to throw away his glasses. And…at last the time has come for me. Monday, June 25th at 11:00am will be the day and time, at least for one eye. I am so excited.
I came home from the ophthalmologist’s office and decided to take Buddy for an early walk. And as we walked along Sunset Cliffs, he to smell and “water” the flowers and me to enjoy the scenery – that I was seeing for the last few times through my prescription glasses – I noticed that my heel and ankle on my left foot was hurting. As we continued our walk, I thought that I might have to call my neighbor to come pick Buddy and I up because it hurt so badly. But Buddy does not like to ride in cars and I would have to tough it back home for the next quarter mile. We slowly walked back home – no problem for Buddy because he no longer gets excited when seeing a strange cat on the route, and after getting home decided I better check things out at Sharp Urgent Care on 4th Avenue.
The wait was not long – 10 minutes or so – and I was taken to triage by a very nice, YOUNG, RN. We were able to joke a bit – sorry I didn’t get his name –and he was very solicitous of this old lady that could barely put any weight on her left foot. When the soft-spoken Doctor came in we talked about walking Buddy and how the heel really hurt. She said that Buddy seemed so big that her 17 month old probably could ride him. (That is true.) The diagnosis was Achilles Tendinitis and I was told to elevate the leg; use ice every hour or so for approximately 20 minutes and stay off the leg. She prescribed NAPROXEN and it worked perfectly. That was on Friday. No pain after the oral medication, and I was even provided an ice pack from the friendly folks at my neighborhood urgent care.
Saturday was an ok day, but in walking Buddy I noticed that the pain was no longer at the ankle; rather it was closer to the shin. Never having been a person that liked hypochondriacs and certainly didn’t want to be one myself, I took another Naproxen and went on my merry way. Until I went to bed Saturday night.
All night long the pain seemed to creep up my leg, finally stopping just at the knee. The directions on the Naproxen bottle said “one tablet every 12 hours.” I had no choice but to tough it out. Somewhere between 3 and 4 am, I fell asleep, only to be awakened by the alarm clock at 6:00am because my two students were going to Los Angeles and had a bus to catch. Fortunately I had not planned an elaborate breakfast – as I usually do on the weekends – but had Lox and Bagels (from the Pt. Loma Bagel Shop) all ready for them to eat. But the pain was something else.
I decided that after taking the students to Greyhound I would drop by my friendly Urgent Care – again. With the cataract surgery looming around the corner I wanted to assure myself that nothing was really wrong with my leg that might halt the surgery. As it turned out, I also became quite dizzy and asked my neighbor to drop me off at Urgent Care and then take my students to Greyhound. (Did you know that Greyhound is no longer on Broadway? It is now on National Ave where, I found out from my neighbor’s experience, that unless you have a bus ticket you can’t use their restrooms!)
This time I was greeted by Daniel, a handsome, oh so young, RN that was a marvel to watch in action. He was able to put on the blood pressure cuff; test my oxygen level; take my temperature, and talk AT THE SAME TIME. Oh to be 40 years younger! He agreed with me that a mimosa or a Bloody Mary would taste good – after all, it was just 10:00am on Father’s Day. But alas, the alcohol available was not the drinking kind. After a few minutes of enjoyable “chitchat” he told me that I would see “Dorian”, the P.A., and not to be too surprised to find that his leg was in a brace and he had a broken finger. (I should have asked him what Urgent Care he went to, but it didn’t dawn on me to do so until too late.)
Enter Dorian – where do they get these handsome hunks? – It was worth shelling out the co-pay just to sit and watch him. And I was really lucky! He had to keep feeling my leg to make sure that there were no blood clots, warmth, or swelling. Unfortunately he stopped because he couldn’t find anything wrong. We talked about the cast he was in – the culprit was bike riding – and I told him about an article I had just written and soon to be published – regarding the new “bike lane” rules. His diagnosis was that I am probably over-compensating for the Achilles Tendinitis and muscles that I seldom use are now being asked to perform for the first time in many years. I had to laugh when this 30 year old said to me “as we get older our bodies don’t react the way they did when we were younger.” (Maybe my body doesn’t react the way it used to, but my mind sure did!)
So why am I writing this lengthy gibberish? I want to give acknowledgement and kudos to those working at Urgent Care’s and Emergency Rooms everywhere. The people that I met were caring, knowledgeable, and truly concerned about the patient. They were able to turn a difficult situation into one that is tolerable and bearable and used humor to help the situation. I felt like I was the only one needing help, yet I knew that wasn’t the case because I could hear the other patients behind the “hanging sheets”. Those dedicated professionals meet many people every day; they should be commended for a job well done. They were already anticipating the next few hours of celebration of Father’s Day because the sun was out; people BBQ; set off fireworks, etc. They were ready for anything.
Now…in the next few weeks I have an appointment to see my Primary Care Physician; The hand surgeon for my trigger fingers; the ENT surgeon for the over-active parathyroid gland that needs to be removed; and let’s not forget the shoulder surgeon that needs to repair the two torn rotator cuffs that I tore when lifting my husband out of his wheelchair. (Believe me, growing older DOES suck.) If you give me enough notice I’d be glad to fit you in between doctor appointments for breakfast, lunch, dinner, date, etc. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to check out the professional staff at your local Urgent Care. They would appreciate a home-made cake; a jar of jam, etc.