H started preschool this fall, and with that momentous life change has come a revolving door of assorted respiratory viruses. Everyone in our household has been sick at one moment or another since E was born in late August. I’ve been messing with something for about three weeks (the apex of which was a double ear infection diagnosed last Saturday), and E finally came down with it this week. There is nothing quite as yucky as being sick yourself and having to care for a sick newborn and a demanding almost-but-not-really-better-yet toddler during the day.
Since E is just over two months old, I made sure to let our pediatrician know, and to keep her updated these last days. She asked me to come in today to check her breathing and to listen to the wheezing in her chest. As I got both kids ready to go, and we walked the three blocks to the doctor’s office, my first thought was that having sick kids in the city really stinks. But my second thought was that living in the city with sick kids has its advantages. We live three blocks from our pediatrician’s office. And our pediatrician is just awesome. She does all her scheduling online (which is wonderful when your child is sick at 3 a.m. and you know you need to be seen that day; it is helpful not to have to wait until the office opens and pray you are the first in line for those limited sick kid spots); she is incredibly available by e-mail and phone, and even makes house calls! We rarely have to wait in her tiny waiting room, and it is usually possible to get same day appointments for sick kids. And if I wasn’t sick myself, these things would be totally manageable.
But I am sick, and suddenly everything is a major undertaking. It is hard for me to be sick, for all the usual reasons (You’re sick? Are you dying? No? Then dinner still has to be made, darn it), but mostly because it takes me so stinkin’ long to get over stuff. I blame it on my allergies; I always get the worst version of whatever is going around and it takes twice as long and usually a round or two of antibiotics to kick it. Excuse me while I go get some cheese to go with my whine.
But that brings me to my second point! I just discovered MinuteClinic, and I’ve just got to say, it is a brilliant idea! For those who haven’t heard of them, MinuteClinic is a walk-in health care office inside some CVS pharmacies that can handle basic injuries, routine infections like strep, ear infections, flu, and the like, and takes insurance! I can rarely get in to see my own primary care doc in any kind of reasonable time frame (even for acute illness), and when I could tell I was getting a bad ear infection last Friday (which turned out to be in both ears), I knew that even if I waited until Monday to try and see my regular doctor, I’d probably have to wait three weeks or more for an appointment. Not really the best option with the kinds of ear infections I get (my eardrums tend to rupture, and I’ve needed Percocet for ear pain in the past, and I’m no pain wimp—I’ve had four children without drugs, thank you very much). So when my ear started aching at dinner time on Friday, I frantically tried to think of some option that didn’t include an ER visit, where not only would I be mocked for coming in for such a routine matter, but it would cost an arm and a leg, and waste hours of time waiting to be seen.
I remembered someone had mentioned MinuteClinic, and googled it to see if there were any close by. There weren’t any downtown, but there was a branch about 7 miles away as the crow flies. So I got up Saturday morning, packed E into the carseat in case of a long wait, and we ventured out into the snowy morning (seriously, in October?? What is up with the weather this year?) They opened at 9 a.m., and I got there pretty close to 9:00. There was one person who went in just as I walked up, but I waited no more than 20 minutes, and was seen by the friendly nurse practitioner there. He did a brief health history, examined me, diagnosed the double ear infection and then sent the antibiotic prescription right over to the pharmacy. I was in and out, with my antibiotic in hand, in just under an hour. And the cost was about what I would have paid to see my own doctor in W. Philly, once you count the cost of a cab, co-pay, hassle, and so forth. I think this is the future of health care frankly. It is more affordable, more accessible, and just plain easier. Obviously, chronic conditions require more traditional care, but for the run-of-the-mill stuff, MinuteClinic is my new go-to place!
Oh, and E has bronciolitis, so we’ll be checking in with our lovely pediatrician a lot in the next week. But that is the advantage of living where we do—easy access for sickies. At least the pint size ones.