So what’s considered a luxury vs. a necessity at the moment?
I haven’t gotten a haircut in about eight weeks. Unlike those freewheeling cats up in Georgia, Florida remains, ahem, cautious, and is keeping its salons and barber shops closed for the moment. I certainly could use a good shearing, but I admit to being perversely curious about what I’ll look like in six months by not getting one. Perhaps my Grizzly Adams moment has finally arrived.
The primary motivation continues to be that I don’t want to be in proximity to anyone. “Social distancing” is way too polite a term for how I feel about being close to someone who is not my wife; it’s more like “get the hell away from me.” The thought of being near someone cutting my hair, who previously finished cutting someone else’s hair, and someone before that, and someone even BEFORE THAT… is just too nightmarish for me to contemplate.
Bottom line? I could care less how I look over the next year. When they finally develop a vaccine is when I once again can return to being Paul Newman.
But what about medical visits which thankfully have nothing to do with COVID-19? Do we keep those appointments?
A friend of mine wrote me recently that he canceled a scheduled appointment with his ophthalmologist. He wasn’t happy about “someone leaning in close, breathing from 1 foot away while making me lean against a machine with my forehead, my eyes wide open, while being asked ‘which one is better, number 1, or number 2? Number 1, number 2? One? Two?’” I can’t say I blame him for canceling. (Hi, A).
During the last few weeks, Gorgeous and I decided to keep to a handful of previously-scheduled doctor appointments, which also included a joint visit to a Quest lab for blood tests. On arrival at every clinic, we’ve encountered “Checkpoint Charlie-like” sentries armed with thermometer guns and holding clipboards containing a series of questions about our personal habits, living arrangements, travel schedules, and the approximate number of sneezes emitted in the preceding 24 hour period. I suspect hardened police detectives would blush at the answers we’ve been asked to provide.
These have all been for check-ups, mostly for the purpose of preserving another 12 months of medication renewal. In spite of the advances (and all-out promotion, I should add) of telemedicine apps, doctors still want patients to come in for annual exams. COVID-19 isn’t changing this practice much, at least where we live here in north Florida.
To their credit, each medical clinic we’ve visited are hyper-vigilant about their staff all wearing masks, staying as distant from patients as possible, and having a constant routine of wiping down surfaces. That was at least somewhat reassuring.
So, all good right? Done for another year!
And then... an upper molar of mine started to become very painful. It must have become jealous of all of the attention other parts of my body has been receiving. You know, the older one gets the lonelier you can become.
After a few days of treating the tooth pain with OTC pain killers to no avail, and Gorgeous quickly tiring of my request for Gerber-quality consistency with each entree put in front of me, I finally relented and called the dentist.
My timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. Though Florida’s earlier stay-at-home order allowed for dentists to treat emergencies, the recent relaxation of that same order also allows them to open up their practices again. This literally means that I can go back to the beach and see a dentist, all in the same day if I want. Is this a great state or what?
The receptionist said I was one of the first people to call since the relaxation, and she immediately set up an appointment for me to come in for an examination.
I now was subjecting myself to the same treatment with my dentist that my friend successfully avoided with his ophthalmologist.
Only a few weeks earlier our GP looked down my throat as far away as his arm would allow; I swear he even dispensed with asking me to say “ah.” But there’s no taking shortcuts in a dental examination. It’s a short-term form of intimacy that both parties would just as soon forget the moment it’s over. Please, no need to say you’ll call me in the morning. I’d really rather you not.
I arrived at the dental office at the appointed hour, allowed them to put a thermometer gun to my head (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write), and was given clearance to be taken back to the examination chair. Within minutes both the dentist and his assistant arrived wearing impressive-looking PPE: in particular a rather sporty-looking plastic face shield on both of them. I thought these things were hard to get! Perhaps it does pay to live in a Republican-controlled state.
The dentist poked the general area in which I was feeling pain until he hit the magic place. “Ah,” I moaned (please, get your mind out of the gutter). At least this time I finally got to say “ah”; except in this instance it hurt like hell to do so. And just to make sure that he had the right tooth, the good doctor poked it three more times with two different instruments for good measure.
“Number two,” he remarked to the assistant.
“We’ll have to refer you to an endodonist. You need a root canal. I do them here, but not with upper molars, so this needs to be done correctly.” That was an interesting admittance.
Okay, great. Yet another doctor.
His staff set up an appointment with an endodonist whom Gorgeous had seen only a few months before. Thankfully, it’s someone listed as a network provider in our dental insurance coverage (note to international readers: a fun little routine we go through here, huh?). As a token of my dentist’s kindness, he gave me a prescription for a few Tylenol 3 so that I’d survive the couple of days I had to wait before the procedure.
I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the actual root canal, but suffice to say that I endured yet another thermometer gun, more questions about my personal life, and two PPE-draped dental professionals yet again within inches of my face. The process lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes. Did you know upper molars have three roots? Well, you do now. You’re welcome.
So as of today, all of my meds are renewed for the next 12 months; my GP says my cholesterol is a little high, but within a safe range; an ultrasound taken by my urologist shows no sign of kidney stones; and my painful tooth is now but an anecdote for a blog post. All good news, and I am grateful for the luxury of having access to good doctors and essential healthcare.
My advice to you? Definitely stay away from me because I seriously have not been social distancing. But do stay safe out there.
Until next time…