Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Podunk Hospital

Saturday night, Dr. B and I were getting ready for bed, tripping over each other in our tiny bathroom as we tried to brush our teeth, wash our face (OK, mine) and take out our contacts (OK, mine again.) His haus-schuh (German wool clog) brushed over my big toe, and I screamed. "AAAARRGGHHH!!!!! YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL!!!"

He took one look at my swollen, pink toe and shook his head.

"Honey, that's infected. It's not getting better. You have to go to the doctor."


Yeah, an ingrown toenail. And I have to go to the doctor. Great.

So, the next day I started making calls. Being new to the area, we didn't yet have a regular doc, and I didn't know who to see. In Madison, at the top-rated clinics and hospitals, I would have gone to Acute Care or Urgent Care, been given a referral, and then seen a special foot doctor at the special clinic. Efficient, clean, organized--and don't you dare deviate from the plan. But no matter what, all I would have to do is tell my problem to whomever answered the phone, and I would be shuttled off to the right person/place/time in a wink.

"Um, I don't know. Huh. Hmm. Uh.... Well, I suppose you should see a podiatrist?"

Great. I got the guy with all the information.

"I don't know if we have any around here. You could always come to the ER."

Wonderful. The emergency room. For a toenail.

"Let me send you back to the ER. They should be able to tell you."

OK, fine. ER. They should know.

"Oh. An ingrown toenail? Infected? Huh. I guess you should see a podiatrist."

This is going great. Boy, I have incredible confidence in the medical system, let me tell you.

"Huh. I don't know if we have any around here. Or if they're taking new patients. Maybe you should just come in to the ER."

(Me) "For a toenail? Really?"

"Yeah, it's fine. No big deal!"

OK. The ER for a toenail. I can't quite accept this.

(Me again, expecting a 3 hour wait.) "So, when are you least busy?"

"Ha ha! Oh, you never know. Sometimes it's quiet, then it gets real busy... might even change between the time you call and the time you arrive. We never know! Just come in when you can."

Okey dokey.

So, Monday morning I ate lunch early, packed Rowan into the car, and after dropping off a shelf to be repaired at the glass shop ("We're real busy, it might take until Friday!"), went to the ER. I packed 3 books for her and a book for me, plus puppy dog finger puppets (it's good to have a soon-to-be uncle who works for Manhattan Toy).

We arrived, and I went up to the desk. "I feel kind of stupid about this, but I have an ingrown toenail." She assured me it was no problem, gave me a form to fill out (name, injury, birthdate and SSN. That was it.) I was shown in to be registered in a few minutes. A few minutes later, I was back in a room. And a few minutes later, I saw a doctor. He didn't quite seem to know what he was doing, but he was quick.

"Hmmm... I don't know if I can do anything with this. I can give you antibiotics, but I think you'll need to see a podiatrist. I don't know if there are any in the area."

Broken record?

I sat there, staring at my toe, and wondering if I'd have to drive all the way to Pittsburgh or Philly to see a doctor. For a stupid ingrown toenail. Would Dr. B have to take off work? Could I drive myself? Would I have to be admitted? Are we talking real surgery here?

A few minutes later, he came back.

"If you can wait 25 minutes, we have a PA that can do the surgical procedure for you."

25 minutes? I was planning on 3 hours!!! "Yeah, I can wait."

I fed Rowan, read her a story, and began reading my own book. Then the PA (a Mommy of one boy, who cooed over Rowan's adorable Robeez) came in, with a nurse (a Daddy of 3 girls) who offered to hold the baby.

Then the fights began. 3 more volunteers came into our room during the procedure, arguing over who got to hold the baby (2 Grandpas and a Grandma.)

Yep, we're in a small town.

The PA was excellent, numbing my toe with lots of lidocaine (4 CC's), cutting quickly and efficiently, and showing me afterwards the jagged edge that had been causing the pain. One of the volunteers cleaned up my foot (after reluctantly giving up the baby). Another came to wheel me to my car afterwards, helping me juggle the diaper bag, my purse and the car seat, and neatly folding my prescriptions and instructions and putting them in the bag for me.

I was given antibiotics, and instructions for 5 pain pills every four hours (2 tylenol, 3 advil.) "We could give you something stronger, but since you're breastfeeding..." the doctor said. I looked at him, and pointed to Rowan.

"29 hours of labor. I'll be fine."

Though the hospital may not have been the model of efficiency and experience Madison's are, they took good care of me, and made me feel more like I was being treated by my aunt and uncle, rather than a big city professional. And it was just fine.

So afterwards, I made a quick stop to get a replacement social security card for mine that I can't find and need to get a driver's license here (gotta love a small town--the wait was about 4 minutes.) We then ran to Walmart to get my prescription filled. After 10 minutes spent entering my information, the clerk smiled and said, "that will be 30 to 40 minutes."

You have got to be kidding me. I didn't wait that long in the ER.

Yeah, whatever. A ploy to get you to shop. But I needed groceries, and Dr. B needed a shoe rack for his closet, and I wanted to try to make a Christmas stocking for Rowan and needed some fuzzy chenille yarn, so I got everything taken care of in one stop. After a caramel sundae chez McDo, we headed home. (You have to take antiobiotics with food, you know, and that's food. Really.) I tried to lay her down for a nap after she ate and we took Lucy out for a potty break (during which Fuzz-Face stepped on my bad toe and then nearly tore my arm off trying to eat a cat), but Rowan was too wound up. We played, then went to meet Dr. B for supper out. (I had the duck sandwich, he had the Eddie D'licious.)

And Rowan hit the wall.

After a whole day of crazy errands and being a very good girl, she'd had enough. So, we took turns eating and holding/walking/soothing her, and came home. She ate again, got PJ'd up, and I laid her down. She was passed out after one revolution of the mobile.

That was just about the most productive day I've had since she was born. I may not have unpacked a single box, but I got a lot done. Sometimes, life is a lot easier in a small town.

1 comment:

mage2001 said...

yeouch... sounds like a painful day...
but indeed a productive one even with a visit to the emergency room.
glad to hear all went well. there are plusses and minuses in each location, differences that you and Jeff know how to appreciate and adapt to even when you just move there. That skill, adapting and succeeding in new surroundings, is some thing that you and Dr B have done really well. kudos to both of you. and to Dr. B to tell you to go to the doc, and you to not suffer long than necessary, even for a simple thing like an ingrown TN. blech.

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