Saturday, February 23, 2008

Field Trip: The Minute Clinic

I am back from sunny Florida and will update you all on the trip soon. But first, an account of what I did just before leaving the Windy City . . .

Two days before our scheduled departure, I found myself with a fierce* sore throat. I am rarely sick, NTB, and I don't have a regular doctor. I used to have one back when I had the student health insurance, but her office was inside a retirement apartment building. I tended to be decades younger than the others in the waiting room and usually had to wait a long time before getting called back with nothing but Reader's Digest and the AARP magazine to amuse myself (I do bring my own reading material to the doctor's office, but like to check out the magazines there as well). So anyway, I haven't needed to see a doctor for a few years and have never bothered to find a better one.

With a trip on the horizon and a painful sore throat, I needed to figure something out. My fervent hope was that I could somehow score a positive strep throat test and a prescription for an antibiotic. So, where did I head . . . The bub and I set off for a place we visit two or three days a week and sometimes even two to three days in a row: CVS. If you've been paying attention (or if your husband makes health care investments for a living, as mine does), you might be aware that CVS has recently opened Minute Clinics in many locations.**

So, here's the deal. You show up at CVS, no appointment necessary, and sign in. The next available practitioner takes you into a little office. It took roughly 30 seconds for me to get signed in and seated. I have to say that I was very pleased with the whole experience. After taking a brief patient history on me, the nurse practitioner asked me a lot of questions about my symptoms and checked all my vitals and whatnot. She also did throat cultures for strep--the quick one and the send-away one. She was very friendly and I felt that she was really listening to and focused on me. The Minute Clinic accepted my insurance card, and I got to use my sweet new health care debit card for the co-pay. The whole thing took less than thirty minutes, and I would recommend it for anyone who needs to see a medical professional but suspects her health problem is fairly common, who has no regular doctor, or who doesn't want to lose two hours of her life at the regular doctor's office, especially with a toddler in tow. When I arrived home from Florida this morning, I found a note from the practitioner, saying how it was nice to meet me and that she hoped I had a fun and relaxing time in Florida. Nice touch.

So the good news is that visiting the Minute Clinic was efficient and painless. The "bad" news is that I do not have strep throat and could not score an antibiotic with either the quick or send-away throat culture. At the time of my visit, I was not even coughing. That soon changed. Now, it's over a week later and I have been coughing for most of it. The cough changes from tight and painful to loose and "productive." There are also moments when my throat tickles, and I feel the urge to cough but can't quite do so and end up gasping/gagging. I sometimes have coughing spells that keep me from talking and bring tears to my eyes. I had two major coughing fits while shopping at the outlets in Florida. Both times, cashiers looked at me in horror and offered me water. Many of the coughing spells are of a body-thrashing variety that when combined with the compromised bladder control of pregnancy add an extra special dimension of distress and discomfort. Because I am pregnant, I am limited in terms of what I can take to try to tame the cough: regular Tylenol (puh-lease, I am a six-at-time-ibubrofen girl and Tylenol impacts me about as much as Flinstones vitamins), regular Robitussin (bad taste and no tangible results so far), and Ludens Cherry cough drops (haven't consulted with my baby doctor, but these are the only lozenges that don't list a warning for pregnant/breastfeeding women on the back; also, the bub has taken to stealing them out of my purse). I know from past sore throat/cough experiences though, that if you don't have strep and get an antibiotic, there's not much over-the-counter that's going to help. In other words, I'm not missing much. I am trying to stay hydrated but with the difficulties hinted at above, that is sort of a slippery slope. I just hope the end of the coughing is near.

One more thing: I forget to share my favorite moment of the visit to the Minute Clinic. When the nurse practitioner was taking my history, she actually asked and recorded the answer to the following question: "Do you weigh more than 100 pounds?" Do I weigh more than 100 hundred pounds? Let's see, I am 5'10" and do not make my living as a supermodel or as a Karen Carpenter impersonator. Also, I am twenty one weeks pregnant. In case any of you are concerned, I am safely above 100 pounds at this point and going strong.

Stay tuned for news of Florida. Hope you all are warm and cough-free.

*I am watching a DVR-ed episode of Project Runway, thus the use of "fierce" here.
**Walgreens has them too, but theirs are called Take Care something or other


LAP said...

So the nurse practitioner probably doesn't have a side job working the "Guess my age or my weight" at Kings Island.

Look at it this must be carrying the weight well.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing post even if it was at the expense of you not feeling 100%. I like the nurse practitioner, she's figured it out. If you make people feel good, you can make them feel good. Awesome, NTB.

Actchy said...

Oh, no, MEP. I'm so sorry you're not feeling well. Why is it that bouts of illness always coincide with vacations and/or important social events?

Also, I'm intrigued by the Minute Clinic. I haven't had a "regular" doctor in years and the last time I needed to see one, it was to have him or her remove stitches from my foot. Naturally, this occurred in mid-August, a time for mandated physician 2 week vacations, apparently. I ended up seeing a "sports medicine expert" (in itself laughable given my total lack of athleticism and the fact that I ended up needing stitches not because of sports but because I slid on a file folder on my bedroom floor and cut my foot on our bed frame) who may or may not have actually been a high schooler pretending to be a medical professional. Maybe next time I will fine a CVS instead?

Actchy said...

...ahem. "find" a CVS instead.

Steph said...

I've been to one of these (called Prompt Care) in B-town and also had a great experience. I think it's a very smart model for things that don't require long-term care.

Glad that you felt well enough to go to Florida!

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