How to get an emergency doctor appointment without having to wait very long…


This advice is born from my fear of telephones. True story, in college I used to order Pizza Hut pizza ALL-THE-TIME (like, three times a week), but I hated calling on the telephone, so I would walk-in. I found the service to be MUCH better this way, and didn’t have to get over my telephone anxiety. While now I know that I CAN make phone-calls, I still tend to prefer online or in-person activity, which has come in handy when trying to get a doctor appointment.

Sometimes, doctor emergencies just CAN-NOT-WAIT. Like, yesterday, when I had been teaching and felt like dying, and walked in to a family medicine practice on my long lunch-break. Sounding like a cross between James Earl Jones and a sex-phone operator, I made a pretty sympathetic candidate, and I have found that (used sparingly), doctor offices are always able to accommodate a patient at the last minute if they are standing in their lobby looking like death and sounding like Darth Vader. Sure I could have called for an appointment at my regular family doctor, but she tends to get busy and I didn’t want to wait. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I chanced it, and it worked. The lovely middle-aged (ahem, handsome) South African doctor immediately prescribed me an inhaler and antibiotics for my bronchitis and gave me a nebulizer treatment in the office. Such service!

nebulizer treatment

Last night Potamus was up every 45 minutes coughing, unable to catch a breath and then going in to full-on-banshee-baby-wailing. My normal inability to handle middle-of-the-night wakings of this sort went out the window. Full Mama-Bear mode was turned on. He slept on my bronchitis-wracked chest. All he wanted was mama. Poor Boof, he couldn’t console him at all. And once he fell into deep sleep, I laid next to him in our bed (he hasn’t done this since 10 months old, about) listening to his breath. Extremely concerned, I decided that I was going to pack him up first thing in the  morning and head out to get a doctor appointment. If not at our pediatrician’s office, at the urgent care clinic that just opened up down the street.

Our pediatrician office is small, 3 doctors, and they are always PACKED! But I got there 5 minutes before they opened, and stood there in the rain pathetically, bedraggled and clearly a sympathetic character. They were able to squeeze me in at 9:15 with one of the doctors. Success! I have found that not wearing full makeup, and certainly not having well-brushed hair is helpful, both for getting appointments for myself AND now for my child. While this office has squeezed us in before, in the afternoon, after calling, I had to wait over 1.5 hours in the lobby while they were seeing other patients. While this could have happened this morning, I have noticed a tendency toward more urgency when they hear the real predicament.

Now, once you know this information, it’s important to use it wisely. I only use it on a very rare occasion when it seems like there’s no other option. I always express my gratitude to the receptionist/booking nurse, because I’ve been on the receiving end of emergency requests and when someone expresses thanks it has always made me feel so much better. I also try to make the appointment as quick as possible. I sum up the symptoms in a very brisk 30 second recap, let them get down to business and make their decision so they can move on to the next, scheduled patient. Yesterday’s doctor appointment lasted 15 minutes since I took a breathing treatment, but I was with the doctor for probably 3, and same goes for today. These aren’t times to ask for special requests or for more information on things unrelated to the task at hand. In. Out. Done.

Potamus is now motoring around our floor, in seemingly good spirits. He has a sinus infection and a slight ear infection. He should be better soon, and  I am about to turn Mama-Bear mode off and take care of myself. Hopefully the two of us will take a sweet nap this afternoon, because I am freaking exhausted.

pediatrician

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