Again, Another Story

On Christmas morning, I found myself sitting in my truck, outside the Emergency Room of a small, rural health clinic. I was told to stay in the truck and a nurse would come out and administer the Covid test.

Yep,ole Santa got me sick for Christmas.

The nurse showed up in a few minutes and he was a chatty soul. Asked what my symptoms were. I said, “It feels like a head cold.”

“Whatdayamean a head cold?”

“I mean sort of like a sinus headache.”

“Okay, well I’m going to give you our test. I gotta stick it up much higher than those home tests.”

He indeed stuck it up higher and I immediately had flashbacks of when another nurse a few years ago stuck a tube up my nose and down into my stomach. “Well, that wasn’t as bad as when they stuck the tube into my stomach.”

“Oh yeah, did they give you a little valium first? Spray your throat to numb it some too?”

“No, he didn’t. Just said to swallow some water as he did it.”

“What? That’s bullshit. I always give a little valium to help calm you down. That sucks.”

I was a bit surprised at the use of the word bullshit by the nurse, but I also thought, “Yeah, that’s bullshit.”

He then began filling out paperwork as he stood outside my truck window in a very foggy Christmas morning. I started feeling a little sorry for myself. This was not how I thought Christmas morning would be.

He finally got to the page where he needed all the prescribed drugs I was currently using. The list is getting longer as I get older, so a week ago, I just took a photo of them and saved it to my phone’s photos.

“Oh, I got them right here,” as I pulled out my phone but I couldn’t really get to the photos quick enough for him. My brain was really not working that well.

“Aw, fuck it.” That is what the nurse said. He thought we should not take the time to get to my photos and write down all that I was taking.

Now at that point, I was really conflicted. On one hand, I admired his pragmatic approach to getting through the paperwork and his expressive use of language that meant, “Let’s move on.” On the other hand, I looked for his name badge to be certain it was not the gardener who was standing next to my truck, asking me personal questions and ramming sticks up my nose. Indeed, right under his name was the title “Registered Nurse.”

He left with my mucus on a stick and disappeared back into the clinic.

Ten minutes later he returned asking what pharmacy I used so the doctor could order Paxlovid? A few minutes later, we said our “Merry Christmases” as I pulled out of the parking lot thinking, if I should have a heart attack, maybe I might want to drive a little further to a little bigger hospital. I also thought of all the recent images I had seen on television of people my age dying in China. Why do I get Paxlovid? Why do I get to be seen immediately by a registered nurse? Then I thought about all the people walking thousands of miles to try to get into my country, stranded in the cold, in hopes of a better life. I didn’t walk here. I was simply born here. I thought about the people in Ukraine, the suffering upon suffering they face every moment. I thought of all this and much more as I drove back home.

I just finished the five days of Paxlovid. I can’t say how sick I might have gotten without it, but loved ones were concerned that I seemed to be getting worse rather quickly by the time I got to that clinic and a couple of days afterwards. Tomorrow I am hoping to go out and plant 14 new fruit trees or as many as I feel good enough to do. Quite the turnaround. Still, I keep thinking about the suffering of others and I wonder, “What are my responsibilities as a person of plenty, through no efforts of my own, to a world that suffers?” I also think about Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.