Sunday, April 29, 2012

Minute Clinic...Medieval Barber

Can you get enough stories of me, trying to navigate a CVS?

Somewhere between my last day in Va, and a drive back to New England, I picked up a southern woodsy tick, which I discovered in the shower, embedded in my hip.  After trying all the usual methods (and some less usual) I did manage to kill it.  May I recommend that all-purpose healing poultice toothpaste, which must burn like a mother, even to something with an exoskeleton.

So it fell off, but of course, not all in one piece.  That's how those little bastards get ya.  I poked and hacked at it long enough to risk tetanus, then I decided to find a medical paraprofessional.  At the CVS.

Has your CVS opened a clinic?  It's not as sketchy as you think, actually, but a little Bramwellian.  We have them all over eastern Mass (thanks, individual mandate!), but not everywhere.  They operate like your usual doc-in-the-box, except it is CVS, so you may see your neighbors shopping for birthday cards, or your Aunt Tillie picking up her "perscriptions." So maybe you'd prefer one in a different town. And it's not a doctor.

Follow the signs on the floor of the CVS to the back, where there are four chairs, no reception, and a computer into which you sign.  Screens, screens, screens.... but all information you know...then the screen tells you how many people are ahead of you, and you wait.

For various reasons, I have been waiting in a lot of exam and waiting rooms recently, and I can tell you for sure that they are not soundproof.  I can also tell you that the "P" in HIPAA stands for Portability, not Privacy, so in spite of all the rules of record-keeping and confidentiality, your being overheard is not a breach.  Think about that next time you are inside the exam room, because people like me don't bring a book to entertain themselves.

It is a little funny that the drugstore doesn't have magazines in its waiting area.

Let's call my NP Cherry.  I expect that Cherry Ames would be a Nurse Practitioner by now.  In her very efficient little exam room (1 desk, 2 chairs, the rolly stool, 1 sink, 1 bank of cabinets and drawers) she could not find her very efficient little tick extracting tool.  Which is not, you may be surprised to hear, tweezers coated in Crest Total.  It's this ingenious device, and I just have to blow this part up for you:

I think you know who you are

Because she can't find it, after several minutes of looking -- in a space smaller than your bathroom -- I sat down and buttoned my pants.  She looked for other implements, like hedge clippers, a long thumbnail, or a rusty saw.

With regular forceps too large for the job she went to work on the embedded head, about the size of a thorn-splinter, at the depth of a mass grave.  And I thought... this is what I was doing yesterday.  But then, I didn't have a lab coat.

Now.  Once your cadaver head, forceps, and skin are bloodied, it is just a slippery mess.  I am standing, braced against the wall to (a) avoid throwing a shadow and (b) scrawl HELP ME into the cinderblock walls of this torture chamber.

"Are you ok?" she asks, with some compassion, though not as much as your mammography tech.  "It's fine," I say, because I do have a surprisingly high pain threshold, and notice that I didn't say I was fine.  I said that it was fine for Sh***y Healthcare to pay for this rather than my Lyme disease.  I can stand it if they can.

Readership, I want you to know that when she finally extracted it, it felt like a dipstick pulling out of the oil tank.  I actually felt it retract, even though neither of us could really see it once it was out.

What they are charging Sh***y : $79 .  To bore me out with an apple corer, which the local crone could have done, plus serve tea and read the bumps on my head.  Throw in an antibiotic and we're all happy.

What a racket.  


  1. Wow! That sounds like fun. Perhaps you could have asked her to pull a few teeth, too. Glad someone else remembers Cherry Ames. I've been missing her recently.

  2. Medieval is right! Then again, it sounds a lot like most of my sister's dr's appts in Dublin (Ireland).


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