I woke up on a recent morning in the wee hours feeling nauseated and more. To make it worse, I was alone in a hotel room. It’s bad enough to be sick in the cozy confines of home. It’s certainly far worse when a loved one’s not nearby to hear you moan.
Somehow I made it to a drugstore for something to treat the symptoms and gain enough relief to make the trip home. After 36 hours of cramps, nausea — and worse — it’s a sure bet I’ve lost that last three pounds needed to meet my 90-day weight-loss goal.
Monday’s call to the doctor’s office finds a sympathetic voice, but one whose appointment book is jammed. My “regular” doctor’s schedule is filled, she tells.
“Doesn’t matter,” I quickly answer with what I hope is the right note of desperation. “Just let me see anyone.”
When you feel like I do, you aren’t picky over who might provide relief.
Soon after, I stepped into the waiting room and — whoa! Hardly a chair available. From small tykes to elders in wheelchairs, the area was filled with people in varying stages of the mully-grubs. Many, like me, had their heads hanging, desperate to get inside, get a diagnosis, some medicine, and back on the road to recovery. Others looked resolute, as if seeing the doctor is part and parcel of everyday life. For many, it is. I lift my head long enough to give thanks for the fact I only have to make these visits occasionally.
A young mother comes striding in, appearing to have just picked up her ailing child from school. He’s only about 6 or 7, I guess, but he’s got mama’s long legs and lanky build. He quickly dives into a chair and curls into a fetal position.
I had wanted to do the same thing, but the chair wouldn’t hold me.
Mama signs in and takes the seat next to him. He immediately abandons his spot and crawls up into her lap, hugging the not-much-bigger woman with his arms and legs in a clutch for dear life. His head falls on her shoulder. She pats his back, his eyes close.
I was envious.
When you’re sick, even a gray-hair like me can remember how good it feels to have mother’s arms around you, comforting and strong, soothing and sweet.
Soon, my name is called and I’m led to a “staging area.” It’s kinda like when air traffic control has all those planes circling the airport until there’s room to land. This is where I’ll stay until an exam room comes open.
In only moments, the staging area is filled, too. Thankfully, I’m called next to move on. The seat hadn’t yet gotten warm when the doctor arrives.
Question. Answer. Question. Answer. Question. Answer. A poke here. A prod there, and I’m on my way. Next stop, the drug store.
The entire process took less than an hour.
On my way home, I return a phone call that had come in just as I was going into the doctor’s office.
“You’re already finished with your doctor’s appointment!?” said my friend with surprise. “When I need to go to the doctor, I’m lucky if I can get an appointment in the same week and it can take half the day!”
That’s the price you pay for not living in a small town, I boast.
I’m feeling better already.
Robert M. Williams Jr. is an Effingham native and publisher of several Georgia weekly newspapers. His commentaries can also be heard on Georgia Public Radio. Email him at email@example.com.