Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chapter 8, Part 4 - The Doctors

Unfortunately, nearly every season or two, Mom, Dad, or one of their friends has had to pay a visit to the emergency room at the local hospital. The first couple of years they were there, Mom and Dad were lucky enough not to have to go. Flo, however, tripped in aerobics one morning during her second season in Florida, and her leg swelled up like her husband’s stomach after dinner at a Chinese buffet. She was in a lot of pain, too. So, Irv drove her over to the emergency room where she sat and sat and sat. After two and one-half hours of sitting in the waiting room, they finally brought her into an examining room to look at her leg and take a couple of x-rays. Then she sat around there for another hour before they could get a doctor in to read the x-rays. Fortunately, it turned out only to be a bad sprain. They gave her an air cast and some painkillers and sent her on her way.

Spraining her leg, however, did give Flo the benefit of having something to talk about at the pool for a few days. “Would you believe that when I called to cancel my reservations for the ‘Young in Spirit’ square dance because of my leg, they said I couldn’t get my money back?”

“You’re kidding. Did you tell the person in charge that you fell and are unable to dance?” Mom asked.

“Of course, I told her,” Flo replied. “You know what she had the nerve to say? That she wouldn’t refund my money because I am still able to get around. She said some of the members in wheelchairs are even coming to the dance, and that I should come to sit and watch the others dance. Like watching other people do-se-do while my leg is in a cast would be any fun.”

Spraining her leg, also gave Flo a chance to commiserate with some of her other comrades who also have had to pay visits to the emergency room at one time or another.

“Oy, the wait in that place was atrocious; you get bread in Russia faster than they see you in the emergency room,” Flo said at dinner one evening. “I was there for over five hours.”

“Well, that’s because they triage you,” Dad explained, “Obviously someone with chest pains would get seen faster than that. If it’s not that serious of an injury, I’ve heard that waits of five to six hours are common in that hospital.”

“Well, I would hope they see you faster for chest pains or you could die in that place waiting. To begin with, most of the people in the emergency room aren’t too young when they get there. The average age in the waiting room must have been 83. Then they have to wait several hours to be seen. Gosh, it was so crowded there with old people. That emergency room really packs them in”

“Well, that’s who does a good business in Florida,” Mom said, “hospitals.”

“And doctors,” Flo added.

Unfortunately, the following year Dad was able to prove his triage theory to Flo. At about eight in the evening, he began to have a couple of chest pains. Mom got so scared that she drove him over to the emergency room herself, even though she normally doesn’t drive in Florida. All Dad had to do was say, “chest pain” and the nurses took him in to be seen right away. They checked his vital signs, took some chest x-rays, and gave him an EKG before they determined he had a bad case of indigestion, probably from the large meal at Barney’s earlier that evening.

“I told you they triage the patients. They took me right away,” he told Flo the next day. “I made it out of the emergency room in a record two and a half hours.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chapter 8, Part 3 - The Doctors

Either once a week, every couple of weeks, or once a month, in between participating in their club activities or shopping in the morning and relaxing by the pool in the afternoon, most Harbor View residents have to take time out of their busy schedules to visit their doctor or doctors.

Mom goes every other week to the allergist for her allergy shots and once a month to her general practitioner to have her cholesterol level checked. Dad goes just once a season to an orthopedic doctor to have him check on his bad knee. Flo and Irv each go once a week – Flo to an internist to check on her circulation problems and to have her legs massaged, and Irv to a general practitioner who specializes in diabetes to have him check on his insulin levels. The Harbor View condo development even gets in on the action by offering blood pressure checks every Tuesday afternoon at the clubhouse. ‘Get your blood pressure checked in between ceramics and water ballet’ the signs in the clubhouse proclaim.

Of course, when they are not currently on a visit to the doctors or getting their blood pressure checked, the discussions among the residents will sometimes center on the subject of health.

“How do you like your new doctor?” Mom asks Flo.

“Oh, I like him much better than that young woman doctor I went to on 34th Street. I don’t think she believed anything I ever told her.”

“Was it that Dr. Feldman on 34th?” Sylvia joins the conversation.

“Yeah, it was. How did you know, Sylvia?” Flo asks.

“Because you said she’s young, and she doesn’t believe anything you tell her. I used to go to her, and she can be like that; she pooh-poohs everything. Wait till she gets to be our age, then she’ll understand what we’re talking about.”

“I just don’t think the doctors down here are as good as the ones back home,” Mom says.

“I agree. I think they all just come here for the weather,” Flo adds.