Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Something Goes Right

My pits are a mess - elbow pits, knee pits.

My elbows harbor the tragi-comically stubborn ringworm, persisting on and off since that fateful October ('07) when the Dark Commander was my roommate and mortal foe. He was a ringworm-ridden kitten quarantined in the room I was subletting and I was bemoaning my return to the country and already insomnia-ridden. At night he kept me awake pilfering the room, climbing dressers and curtains, breaking glass, knocking over every possible thing on every conceivable surface. He climbed on my head and tried to spoon with my face. Every morning I straightened the room up as if from a nightly bombing. When a man friend slept over, Dark Commander made himself a known and undesirable presence. The words, "I will always remember this," were not exhaled with cigarette smoke and a smile, but rather through gritted teeth, like one sputters to a nemesis as he insults your mother and walks away into the sunset. Dark Commander also had to be bathed in sulfur every Wednesday afternoon, and until late Thursday the room, too, carried a pungent, yet soft, altogether enveloping aroma of gunpowder. Before the sulfur baths finally cured him of his ringworm, he gifted some of it to me. When Commander's mama returned and learned of my condition she asked that I please not touch her cat.

My knee pit fell prey to its own tragedy just five days ago. An angry rash showed up, made itself comfortable and me very uncomfortable. I tried to test out its seriousness on my housemates. I'd lift my skirt to just above me knee, rotate my body slightly to reveal the beast, and ask, "You don't think it's serious, do you?" To this they, unanimously, made horrified faces and recoiled. I decided to listen to my Ma and see a doctor.

I showed up at Philadelphia Health Care Center #3 at 6:12am, this morning. There was a man that looked like Samwell, oiled up and glistening in the morning sun, jogging in Clark Park in very short shorts. There were few other morning stragglers and I felt positively heroic when I realized that I was first in line. The Center opened at 7 and slowly put its gears into action as the head nurse barked at us to line up in single file and goose-step from one waiting area to another to get processed by three different people. One of the nurses got bitten by a dog outside and we watched the proceedings in the silence of the glass box seating area. I got a yellow card with my name on it and sat.

First, a nurse looked at me. He measured my blood pressure twice before he started fiddling with the wires and plugged a couple more cables in before he finally recorded. He looked at my rash, and said someone else would come talk to me about it. It sounded as though I was going to be educated about my reckless behavior. I got called again, this time by a doctor. She seemed unimpressed and uninterested. She poked at it, gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a steroid cream and sent me on my way. At the Center's pharmacy, I was told to return at 11:30. I came up to the receptionist and told her I was all done, and did I need to pay anything? She laughed me out of the building and as I left, yelled, "It's nice, isn't it?!" It was a little before 9.

It is nice. While I doubt I would choose this clinic for more serious analysis or problems, because the doctors seemed so overworked and distracted, I am pleased. I came home ebullient that I actually got health services I could afford, but I realize there is very limited charm to this. It took 3 hours to get an antibiotic prescription, and I'm not sure I would trust them with too much else. In addition, people were turned away and afternoon walk-in appointments were canceled. What if the antibiotics don't work and I have to get intravenous medicine and/or further, more complicated treatment? Where do I go then?

No comments: