We had the same family physician for 15 years. He was a cardiologist by training, and every check up included an EKG taken by his wife, his nurse/office manager. She wore white patterned hose and a white nurse's dress and never failed to make you feel welcomed and protected.
Then, Dr. Smith got sick and died. We moved to California and found a pediatrician and a family care practice and a gynecologist. I took the Cuters to the first and myself to the last and never, in the 17 years we lived there did I ever need to see the GP. I come from hearty peasant stock, as I liked to remind TBG. If I were sick, it never lasted longer than 24 hours. Over the counter medications took care of all my needs.
Moving to Arizona left us, once again, in need of a doctor. TBG developed symptoms requiring care, and I called physicians based on geography and availability. Dr. Cantor could see him at 4pm that day; he became our family physician by default. He was always available for an emergency, was willing to listen to what had worked for us in the past, and would prescribe after a description of our symptoms over the phone.
He treated my high cholesterol and ignored me when I was shot. It was an odd relationship, but it worked for us.... until his partner retired and the practice ws sold to a local, for-profit, hospital network. Suddenly, appointments were hard to come by, paperwork mounted, and the magic was gone. Soon thereafter, so was Dr. Cantor. He vanished without a trace, having signed a non-compete clause which precluded him from taking his patients with him when he left.
No one asked the patients if that was what we wanted. It wasn't. We liked him. No one cared.
Once again, we were bereft. My gynecologist suggested a young woman in her practice. "I'm sending my daughter to her when she graduates from the pediatrician," she told me, and that was recommendation enough. I scheduled an initial appointment, waited 4 months for it to arrive, met her and gave her my history, and was happy with the arrangement until the letter arrived informing me that she was pregnant and retiring to spend more time with her family.
As the mother of a young mother myself, I understood. As the newly abandoned patient, I was peeved. TBG found another doctor in the same practice and has been happy with him. I am still searching for a female practitioner who is too old for making babies and too young to retire. It's an unanchored feeling, but one that didn't bother me all that much. There were other things in my life worth pursuing.
Then, I got sick.
This was unlike my usual encounters with illnesses. Typically, I am sick for 24 hours and then I'm fine. That wsn't happening this time. My head hurt. My throat ached. My nose and eyes were dripping. I had a lovely cough and a headache that Advil couldn't tame. Day after day, things just got worse. I left the TFOB early on Sunday because I couldn't be upright for a moment longer. I crawled into bed and, except for 3 hours with the Mah Jongg ladies on Monday, that's where I've been since.
I can vary it a bit by moving to the couch, but there's not much more energy available for cooking or shopping or typing. This morning, Little Cuter took charge. "Go to the doctor!" she commanded, and I obeyed.
In the past, I wondered how G'ma felt about my making decisions for her and telling her what she should do. After this morning, I have my answer. It feels comforting and supportive and helpful when you don't have the strength to fight the battle alone.
I drove to Urgent Care, donned a mask because, except for a rash, I had all the symptoms which required one. According to the Please Wait Here sign, if you had a fever, a cough, the sneezes you should put on a mask immediately. I was alone in the waiting room, but I wore it anyway.
The nurse took my vitals - did you know that congestion can make your blood pressure rise? - and my medical history - yes, it's absurd that she can't ask me if I have unsecured guns in my home - and escorted me down the hall to the exam room. I opened my book and in walked the Physician's Assistant, a veteran of Desert Storm - the 100 hours war, nothing like what those guys are facing over there now - who talked with me about the eerie silence when the shooting stops - as he looked in my orifices and told me I probably had allergies but it might be bacterial.
I left with prescriptions, instructions, and a $70 copay.
It felt every bit as personal as the one meeting I had with the private physician. It was efficient and fast and friendly. The printed handouts included the doctor's notes, descriptions of my condition and the medications and lots of what to do's. I was home an hour after I'd left.
It wasn't Dr. Kildare making a house call, or Doc Hollywood accepting a pig in payment, but it got the job done. I don't feel much better this afternoon, but I'm not getting worse. In my current universe, that's a triumph.