Back in the Saddle

If you are wondering why there has been a six week delay in my usual, semiweekly blog posts, I have been, as they say, “under the weather.” I am prone to respiratory viruses; and after several weeks of battling this one–and fearful of possible pneumonia–I dragged myself to the Urgent Care Center at Kaiser Permanente, my Medicare Advantage health care provider.

 Kaiser’s Urgent Care Center in Washington is in the basement of an office building near Union Station. Hallways are painted a dreary brown, lighting is poor, and there is nothing on the walls or long corridors, not even a single painting or photograph. (However, the grim setting is not as bad as the Washington Hospital Center’s emergency room where I spent a few days and where doctors are often outnumbered by cops, and desperate patients, some in handcuffs, are lying on cots jammed together.) But it is bad enough. I have been there several times before when the waiting area had no space available, and the background “music” consisted of groans and moans. None of that for me. My plan was to arrive at 7:30 in the morning—in advance of the urgent care rush hour.

I was in luck. When I arrived a little after 7:30 there was only one person ahead of me, an African American man in his 20s, wearing a sweatsuit and humped over with his head in his hands, moaning. Within minutes the door opened, and my name was called. My plan had worked.

The doctor who examined me—a caring, African American woman in her fifties—did all the right things, ordering a slew of tests—blood, urine, chest x ray–and by 8:30 I was assigned to a small room separated from a bustling central area by a curtain. Within an hour of taking some 15 or 20 tests, the results were posted to my Kaiser account and available on my iPhone. My results seemed to be in the green zone. Most important I did not have pneumonia. I concluded that this was a good sign though I felt as bad as ever, wheezing, coughing, body aches, heavy congestion, and no energy. I settled in wearing my hospital gown and lying on an uncomfortable examination table. That was around 10:00. Very impressive to get the test results back so fast, I thought.

What was not so impressive was that I remained in that tiny room for five more hours with no human contact. I had skipped breakfast to be sure I made it to urgent care before the morning rush. No one had offered me anything to eat or drink, and by 3:00 pm, I took matters into my own hands, yelling “help” as loud as I could. It took two or three desperate shouts before one of the technicians stuck his head through the curtains and asked me what my problem was. I explained that I had been in urgent care since 7:30, had received test results on my iPhone at 10:00, and wanted to see a doctor. He said nothing and departed, but it only took another 30 minutes for the doctor to come in with an apology and honest answer that she had completely forgotten about me.

“But here is the good news,” she proclaimed, “You do not have pneumonia! Your tests are all negative, you are fine and can go home. In fact, you are the least sick person I have seen today.”

“Fabulous news,” I responded, wheezing, and coughing and wondering if I was not sick, how come I felt so bad. So I returned home, relieved that I did not have pneumonia. I flopped down on the bed after making myself a sandwich and drinking about a gallon of water and remained there for the next two days.

In a few days, however, I did start to feel better and was able to drive with Embry to North Carolina where we visited her brother and sister-in-law in Chapel Hill and then drove to the Outer Banks where we spent the long Thanksgiving weekend with our son, Andrew and Karen, his wife, and their kids, Sadie and Parker,  Karen’s brothers and parents, and our daughter, Jessica, and her daughter, Jo (Josie), and nieces and nephews on Karen’s side—17 people in all.

After a brief recovery from that trip, I feel fine now, and you can expect the posts to get going again.

In defense of Kaiser, I have to say that whatever this strange malady is—Embry calls it “the Joe-Crud”—no doctors have been able to figure it out. The symptoms started over 50 years ago and are more like what I have read about long-covid or chronic fatigue syndrome. I guessed it had something to do with Post-Polio Syndrome but the post-polio specialists at the National Rehab Hospital thought not. Whatever it is, it has always eventually gone away; and at the ripe old age of 81, I am just happy to be alive.

Stay tuned for the return of the blogs.



9 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle

  1. This is great news, Joe – so good to hear! We’ve missed you here on your blog, and the world needs your voice!

  2. l did laugh ! Indeed as long as we can stay far from the Urgency of an hospital, we are alive ! 81does not seem an age we have to complain to be if one still can write about it. As you do.

  3. Joe, I remember that malady well. The “Joe crude” seems very descriptive
    You could be out of commission for days and then you would be back-
    walking/ playing tennis/ etc/etc/etc. Keep it up!
    Glad you went to the doctor (so to speak) to take care of yourself,
    Maybe that cry for help might have been more effective after an hour or two.
    Wow, 5 hours is a long time to wait…
    I am a fierce believer in taking care of yourself even if you are not sure you are really “sick” or
    in need of professional care. I have so far survived melanoma, prostate cancer (I think?), (lymphoma (this one is still around), and recently a small squamous cell Ca of the ear. I have had umpteen gastroscopies for stomach pains and colonoscopies for possible colon Ca (none found). I consider myself a blessed or at least a lucky dude.
    I think all of us (still standing) are in this category.

  4. I thought you looked great on our Zoomer the other night. So good to hear you are well again. Where is Marcus Welby when we need him?!

    As for me, I mulched some fallen leaves about a month ago using my rotary mower. Stirred up all kinds of leaf dust containing God knows what in terms of spores and bacteria. The next day I had a tight chest and cough that resolved only recently. I’d never had such uncontrollable fits of coughing. We all seem to have become various chapters in a pathology text.

    Best to Embry,

    De Facto

  5. Hourra Joe!
    Thank you for the inimitable story telling!
    Thanks for getting back to blogging and making your faithful readers smile, laugh, and think.

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