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Cell #7

26 September 2011, 07:42



I know Labor Day has come and gone, but, as I prep for Averi’s birthday party next weekend, I am reminded of that day four years ago, when I rushed to the hospital, excited and nervous.

Fast-forward to this past Labor Day, and instead of rushing to triage, I found myself in the grips of an entirely different medical adventure–one with less luster and zero excitement and no butterscotch pudding in sight.  This past Labor Day, I rushed to the unequivocal war-zone known as the URGENT CARE CENTER.

I really hadn’t wanted to go. But, with my primary care physician retiring last year and my procrastinating nature getting in the way of settling in with a new one (and my OB-GYN office having seen quite enough of me in the last four years), I wasn’t left with much of a choice. I was in a lot of pain and this pain wasn’t something that a couple Ibuprofen and a picture of Ryan Reynolds could cure (although, feel free to email those to me at any time). I’d been having crazy symptoms on and off for a month: super stiff neck, swollen glands, dizziness, headache, muscle aches, delusion. Ok, maybe I wasn’t delusional, but it seems like it should go with the rest of those symptoms, so let’s just go with it. In all honesty, I was petrified that some crazy killer species of a spider bit me and I was slowly liquifying from the inside out.  So, when I couldn’t move off the couch, and it wasn’t because Housewives was on, my sister and husband pleaded that I go.  And, after a split-second thought that I would  have some “me-time” (sad, but true), I trekked down to my local hot zone.

Yes, the Urgent Care Center. This is a special place.

Upon entering, I was immediately drawn to two things- the lady in front of me, wet-coughing into her hand, and then using THAT SAME HAND to sign in (where I was to sign in immediately after) and the waiting-room TV special airing (loudly, clearly, and visually) about children born with cleft-palate. Two minutes in and I was almost as scared as I was going to the post office. Obviously, I did what any other offending waiting-room patron would do- bolted to the nearest sanitizer pump, doused myself from the waist up and smiled sympathetically at wet-cough lady as I returned to the desk for  my sign-in.

I sat for what seemed like an entire episode of America’s Got Talent. Restless and caught up on Words with Friends, I butted into the conversation of the lady sitting next to me and realized that not only does she have 5 kids, 10 grandchildren, and a week’s worth of pneumonia, but she had no idea where The Oyster Bar in Matunick was. How did she exist?

Finally, my name was called, I was signed in and asked to empty my daughters’ savings accounts for payment. Onto “room #7″ I went. And by “room #7,” they meant “curtain #2, between the lady-who-speaks-very-loudly with the urinary tract infection and the teenager, covered from scalp to toe in poison ivy, which she ‘caught from her boyfriend.’” Hopefully her boyfriend never has headaches or broken bones, because I’d hate for her to catch those too. And, also, why would medical professionals not tell her that she can’t catch it from another person? I mean, she repeatedly told everyone who entered the room, including the doctor (whose only response was, “wow, I’ve NEVER seen it that bad. Which made her feel 100,000 times better than when she walked in there). I was losing faith with every second that I was confined to cell #7. And, what kind of cell was this, anyway? I didn’t even have a TV. Which I guess is a good thing, because they would probably have been running something entertaining, like live executions, anyway.

A nice enough nurse enters to take my vitals and as we’re chatting, I vaguely hear my cell phone buzzing in my bag, notifying me that someone is texting the heck out of me. Hoping she doesn’t realize that I didn’t follow the “shut off your cell phone” rule, I quickly grab it after she leaves the room, only to spot two people peeking into my cell that look awfully familiar to me. Which was because those familiar people were MY MOTHER AND SISTER.

Let me just say that again.

MY MOTHER AND SISTER walked right into the Urgent Care Center and directly to my cell. To find me.

I have to admit, I was slightly embarrassed. I mean, I’m 34. If I’m grown up enough to deal with the fact that I would never sneeze again without crossed legs, I could certainly go to a doctor appointment without chaperones.

My sister knew what my reaction would be, so she immediately began to tell me that she was trying to “warn” me with texts. And my mom, who would eat nails before she let anyone stop her at the sign-in desk (bless her heart), said she was just worried about her daughter and why can’t she be worried about her daughter and they/she never get to spend time alone with me and they were in the neighborhood anyway, heading to Target (which was nowhere near my neighborhood, even though you’d expect there to be a Target in every neighborhood). I get it. They care. I wasn’t really upset. But, really, if you’re going to go all commando on my cell, couldn’t you have at least brought me Starbucks?

After we laughed for a bit and talked about my dad, in came Dr. Eyes. And not in a Dr.-I-want-those-eyes kinda way, but more like holy-shit-he’s-going-to-drill-a-hole-directly-through-my-face-with-his-eyes kinda way. I was hoping for Dr. McDreamy. What I got was Dr. Rodney Dangerfield. With a lot of smiles and more “M’Kays” than South Park’s Mr. Mackey.

I was scared.

He began talking to my sister, thinking she was the patient. It was probably because she had mismatched colors on. I should have just let him continue, for entertainment purposes, but Lee Lu didn’t need any anxiety from this man. She had enough to worry about, now that she was obviously going color-blind.

That was the cue for my support team to head out and I was left alone to battle the trenches. I began spewing my symptoms and, nodding and smiling like he seems to do best, he kept urging me to respond by asking a question while already answering it for me with a nod. “You notice a lot of post-nasal drip going on, yes?” Um, no. “Are you clearing your throat a lot, yes?” Um, no. “You have allergies, yes? I think this sounds VERY much like allergies.”

Yea, dude. It’s allergies. I have throat glands the size of tennis balls, I can’t look left and I’m most likely dying of meningitis and you think it’s allergies. Case solved.

So, do you know what they do for a possibly allergy diagnosis? I do. They run “the works.” CBC, EKG, X-rays, urinalysis, pregnancy test and throat culture. You know… just in case you might need Benadryl. For your allergies.

The nurses file in, one by one, to perform their specialty on me. I become the comical banter of the afternoon. “Wow, looks like you’ll be seeing all of us today!” “Someone told me that all the action was over here!” “Take off your clothes so I can stick 42 electrodes to you and tell you that you have allergies!”

And, my most favorite, “You probably just have TMJ.”

Why was I here?

The doctor was right in that they didn’t find anything wrong with “the works,” but he also didn’t have an answer as to why I felt like I did or what any possible causes could be. I think the official diagnosis was “crazy, sleep-deprived mom of 3.”

After 2 and a half hours of my life that I couldn’t take back, I headed home. No answers. No Starbucks. And, without a reasonable doubt, no allergies.

(Disclaimer- I got myself a PCP and went to see her as well, who said I most likely had a throat virus that was lingering for whatever reason. As of today, I’ve had a sore throat/swollen throat gland for 23 consecutive days and stiff neck for 2 months. I’m pretty sure I’m still dying of something, but it’ll have to wait. I have DVRd shows to catch up on.)




  1. Lisa Coelho September 26, 2011

    I am not color blind...hahahaa funny stuff.

  2. Kaitlin September 26, 2011

    Oh Ms. Jen! That doesnt sound good at all! I hope you get better soon. That is just non-sense!

  3. Kaitlin September 26, 2011

    and ps. I doubt Lisa is going color blind. she looks good in everything! She proably was just trying to start a trend.

  4. Gina Clapprood September 26, 2011

    Jen--welcome back!!! This is great--at your expense--I had a good smile--hope you are feeling better!

  5. Melissa September 26, 2011

    This made me laugh! Hope you feel better.

  6. Summer September 27, 2011

    OMG you're hilarious. This sounds similar to one of my Murphy's Law Monday posts. What ridiculousness! And yeah - like who pops in unannounced without Starbucks?! HOW WUDE!

  7. Maria September 27, 2011

    Wow! What an adventure! I hope you are feeling better and, for crying out loud, get some Starbucks!

  8. admin September 28, 2011

    Thanks! Yes- feeling much better now... probably b/c I've had Starbucks 3 times this week. :)

  9. admin September 28, 2011

    your murphy's law mondays are great!

  10. admin September 28, 2011

    thanks, melissa! i am, thank god.

  11. admin September 28, 2011

    thanks, gina! glad i could make someone smile!

  12. admin September 28, 2011

    ok, ok.. she's not color blind. she just can't match colors. HA. (sorry.. i love lee lee)

  13. admin September 28, 2011

    sorry- i thought my responses were going to be attached to each person that i replied to! i have to figure out this glitch. sorry if i just sounded like a crazy person, randomly talking. although, i do that every day. :)

  14. mandi April 30, 2012

    While I feel extremely guilty that I just laughed and smiled through this whole blog and it was at your expense, I cannot say sorry. Only, thank you for these blogs and I hope you don't die before you have a chance to write another ;) (feel better)


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    Jen Senecal

    My name is Jen. I have a contagiously funny husband, three awesomely gorgeous daughters, a knack for design, a love for writing, an obsession with kids fashion, a secret desire to be a photographer and a curfew of 10 pm. WHO'S WITH ME?
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