Thursday, March 19, 2015

We still keep getting surprised...

We still keep getting surprised ... at how different ordinary things are up here in Utah, as compared with our decades of experience in San Diego...

Yesterday Debbie had a doctor's appointment in the morning.  The doctor she was to see is a physical rehabilitation specialist at the largest local hospital; the appointment was a followup from the emergency room visit she had a couple weeks ago.  All very ordinary, the kind of thing we've been through quite a few times in the past.

In those past experiences – mainly in the San Diego area – we'd get to the office 15 or 30 minutes before our appointment, do some fiendish paperwork, then wait for the doctor to actually see us.  Generally that would happen quite a bit later than the actual appointment, sometimes hours later.  We'd experienced this so many times that we knew to come equipped with things to read, to while away the time.

That's not what happened yesterday morning.  Instead, we were handed a very small pile of paperwork, some of which was actually entertaining (we had fun with a section asking about our “social life” and how Debbie's injury affected it).  We finished with that in under five minutes, sat down, and about a minute later a nurse came back to take us to the exam room.  Wow!  Then she figured out that Debbie needed some more X-rays, so Debbie got dressed up in one of those spiffy hospital gowns (with a bonus pair of bloomers), and hauled off for X-rays.  I wanted to take photos, but Debbie threatened me with a painful death if I did.  So I settled down with my Kindle, figuring (based on past experience) that I had at least 45 minutes or so to wait.  Four minutes later, Debbie was back in the exam room with me, X-rays finished.  A minute or so after she got dressed, the doctor came in to see her.  He'd already reviewed the history and X-rays, and immediately started the exam.  The exam was thorough and unhurried, with even some time for small talk – a most unstressful and even pleasant experience.  In the end had an uncertain diagnosis, but thought it likely that all she needed was some physical therapy – and we were done.

We walked out of his exam room just under one hour after we walked in the door.  In that time we were put into the hospital's record system for the first time, had Debbie's history taken, got X-rays, saw the doctor, and got a prescription for physical therapy, pre-cleared by our insurance company.  I don't know what your medical experiences have been like, but compared with our own past experiences, that's simply remarkable.

But the surprises weren't finished.  We decided to make the physical therapy appointment (with a different clinic in the same hospital) right away – Debbie was really eager to get started.  It's a big hospital, with some construction going on, so we were confused about where to go.  We asked at a physical rehab clinic we saw a sign for, and were told where we should go.  Then the receptionist asked us if we knew how to get there – and when we said “No!”, she promptly got up and led us on a five minute walk through two floors of the hospital to get us to the right place.  A few minutes later, we had her first appointment scheduled – for later that same afternoon.

So yesterday afternoon we drove back up to the hospital and checked into the physical rehab facility.  Again we got there early.  Again we were handed a small pile of paperwork that we quickly worked through.  And again, within a few seconds of finishing the paperwork we were taken back to the exam room.  This time the physical therapist did another unhurried and thorough exam, with lots of particular tests to see if he could locate the source of Debbie's knee pain.  It took about an hour, but eventually he nailed it down: she has an injured (or perhaps just irritated) illiotibial band.  Treatment is some simple physical therapy, and the prognosis is complete recovery within 4 to 6 weeks.  We've both been through excellent physical therapy before (though Debbie more than I), but this experience still stood out for the physical therapist's competence, persistence (Debbie's injury was hard to diagnose, and both the doctor and the physical therapist thought it might be a meniscus tear initially), and easy, encouraging manner.  Once he figured out what the problem was, we settled on a course of treatment, and left to get it all scheduled.

The fellow who scheduled Debbie's PT appointments was a college student, and he mentioned that he'd spent two years in Lithuania.  That caught my attention immediately, as Lithuania is one of the Baltic states, quite close to Estonia, which I know very well.  We ended up having a great conversation about our mutual experiences there while we got Debbie all set up for PT.

An hour and a half after we walked in the door, we were walking back out to our truck.  To get there, we walked through the physician's parking lot, and something struck me: amongst the 50 or so doctors' cars, there was exactly one car that could qualify as a “luxury” car – an older Mercedes.  All the rest were perfectly ordinary cars and pickup trucks – an assortment of Toyotas, Chevys, Fords, etc.  There wasn't a single Porsche, BMW, or Maserati on the lot.

Presumably, after we've lived here long enough, these sorts of experiences will stop surprising us.  I wonder what it would feel like to go back to California at that point?  Not good, I suspect...

Was there a nuclear explosion on Mars?

Was there a nuclear explosion on Mars?  It looks probable...