When we rent a car, the rate doesn’t include the spouse or family member as permitted to drive the vehicle. Last year, we decided it wasn’t worth thousands of extra dollars a year to pay for me to be able to drive rental cars, so basically, I stopped driving. I can’t drive a stick shift vehicle with my left hand or drive safely on the opposite side of the road I was used to in the US.
Besides, I am a lousy driver. If there is an emergency, I can drive. I will keep my driver’s license up to date when it’s often used for ID in our travels. If I were to drive the rental vehicle when I wasn’t included in the contract, the insurance would be negated. It’s not worth the risk. Thus, around the time of my 73rd birthday, I gave up driving.
In the US, with a car rental contract not including me, Tom, while sick, has had to drive us to Urgent Care. I felt so bad about this when he was “coughing up a lung.” On Sunday, we made the 10-minute drive to an Urgent Care facility, MedExpress, which we had used when visiting the US in 2017, and found the care and service good. But there was no x-ray tech on duty so we had to return today.
Well, a lot has changed since 2017. One doesn’t simply walk in the door of an Urgent Care with a mask on and meander over to the reception area to check in. Each prospective patient must do the following to be seen:
- Using one’s smartphone, scan the QR code on the notice on the front door
- Gain access to the clinic’s WiFi system to register for the appointment
- Complete about ten pages of questions
- Read all the HIPAA documents (patient privacy) and sign multiple documents in the box that appears on the phone.
- Submit the documents
- Wait for a phone call from the reception area, asking more questions. 10 to 15-minute wait
- Provide credit card number, expiration, and PIN for them to process the basic US $149.99 fee. Additional fees may apply.
- Hang up and wait for a call back to be allowed to enter the facility. 30 to 45-minute wait or longer if they are very busy
- Receive the call asking for detailed symptoms and the reason for the visit. Then, get informed to enter the building. Sit in “chairs” socially distanced while waiting to be escorted to a treatment room.
- Wait in the treatment room for 10 to 15-minutes for a medical professional to enter and examine the patient.
After all this and Tom’s detailed description of his symptoms, x-rays were ordered. Then, we waited for about 40 minutes for the x-rays to be read by a radiologist at another location. The PA came back into the treatment room to explain that Tom has Covid Pneumonia and would need a considerable treatment regime including six medications; two antibiotics, two different inhalers using the electric nebulizer we purchased in India in 2020, a cough medicine in a capsule form and cortisone tablets, not to be started until May 12, having given the antibiotics time to kick in.
Covid pneumonia appears as honeycombs in x-rays, a rare phenomenon of the many peculiar symptoms of the dreaded virus. He is supposed to return to the clinic for a check-up before leaving for Nevada next Sunday. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better, and we’ll be able to fly out.
We were given a stack of papers with written instructions and Covid precautions, much of which we already knew. Of course, during the entire duration of Covid, I spent hours researching how and why Tom’s case manifested as Covid pneumonia. It happens to more people than you’d think, and the recovery can take weeks, if not months.
The PA called in the six prescriptions to the Walgreen Pharmacy across the street from the clinic. We checked out of the clinic after paying the extra US $50 for the x-ray. In moments, we were at the drive-through window at Walgreens, only to be told to return in an hour. The prescriptions weren’t ready.
We returned to the hotel, and Tom jumped under the covers for a 45-minute nap. He awoke in time for the hour to have passed, and once again, we headed back to Walgreens. It was at least a 45 minutes wait once I checked in with the pharmacist. I wanted to speak to the pharmacist personally to review the drugs, ensure we had everything prescribed, and ask a few questions.
The drive back to the hotel was hard for Tom with his constant coughing. Again, I begged him to let me drive, but he refused, knowing we didn’t need any added stress if something happened. We returned to the hotel to find the cleaners had yet to clean our room. We waited in the lobby for 30 minutes while the room was serviced.
Finally, we made it back to the room, and again Tom got under the covers. I went through each medication and gave him everything he needed, including his first breathing treatment, which required set-up and subsequent cleaning. The total cost for all of the meds was US $300.24. I set up reminders on my phone for each of the medications, ensuring we don’t miss a dose.
At that point, I took a huge plastic bowl to the building across the driveway to an ice machine on the second floor. The ice machine in this building hasn’t been working since we arrived eight days ago. I filled the ice cube trays with water, and between the big bowl of ice from the machine and the trays, that should get us through a day or two.
Then, the toilet overflowed. I don’t need to get into details, but you know how that happens. I then went to the front desk and got a plunger and extra towels. I wanted Tom to be able to sleep and not have to worry about maintenance coming to the door. In minutes, I unplugged the toilet, cleaned up the floor, returned the plunger, and bagged up the wet towels.
We had no idea, but our former next-door neighbor and friend, Nelleke, is the x-ray tech in the facility. We have stayed in touch, and she reads our posts regularly. It was wonderful to see her but sad under the circumstances. We hope to see her and Dave and our other old neighbors/friends when we return next time. We’ve all stayed in close touch.
So there it is folks. It hasn’t been fun since we disembarked the ship in Southampton, missed our next cruise on the Queen Mary 2, spent ten days in England trying to recover, and now over a week here with ongoing symptoms of Covid, Tom’s case has been much worse than mine. I feel pretty good except for an annoying cough now and then. Good thing I am well enough to help him get through this.
Sometimes, being nomads is not fun. But, if we had a home somewhere, we could still be in the same situation. Except under these circumstances, I don’t have to clean, vacuum the floor, take out the trash or mow the lawn. We can focus on getting well and soon be on our way.
Please continue to do everything you can to avoid getting Covid. For us, it’s been a lot worse than a “bad cold.”
Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2021: