I expected yesterday to be a rotten, rotten day.
The good news is that we didn't have a bunker job scheduled. The bad news is that my mild case of Bronchitis got a little less mild, and after a week of waiting it out, I had enough.
I called for help.
Getting a sick seaman to a medical office is a pain in the ass for all involved. You're in an area that is not home to anyone involved, for the most part, and the employer wants to get through the event with a minimum of fuss and bother, and at a reasonable cost... this means a visit to the
For those of you who aren't sailors and aren't in the construction trades, the Doc-in-a-Box is a broad term for an occupational health clinic. Think: dirty, unhappy people, cheap-ass chairs in a capacious but eerily empty waiting area, Workers Comp, and one underpaid (and likely untidy) doctor, a dozen nurses covering up for the sorry doc, and a full-time resistant case of scabies that gets passed to the patients after a visit like a joint passed at a frat party. That's the doc-in-a-box.
So, that's what I was expecting. Get some antibiotics thrown at what is probably a virus (viruses find antibiotics largely benign, FYI), probably get a rash from the last occupant of the hospital johnny they make you put on (I put it on backwards sometimes to make the nurses smile), and out the door to the local Walgreen's to sit amidst the baby boomers anxiously awaiting their painkillers.
That's what I was expecting. Confision, chaos, a long wait in a room where the air has a taste more than a smell.
The surprises started off fast. I make my phone call, and I get told that my request will be passed on. I get another call a few minutes later. It's the head honcho of the department that handles medical stuff . She's friendly, polite, funny, and efficient. I get told to check my email in 2 minutes, print out the forms I'm being sent, and that the driver is already waiting at the bottom of the ladder to bring me to a doc who's a good guy, and who incidentally has taken care of sailors before (good news if I was 10 years younger and had a wandering eye!).
Surprise #2. We drive out of the industrial sewer part of Philadelphia where my barge was tucked aside, into a nice suburban town about 30 minutes from the city. The clinic is sparkling and sunny, and the receptionist, PA, and the doc himself are all locals, and all nice folks who wash their hands and everything. I get looked at, don't have to pull my pants off for a nice cough, and the guy takes a couple of minutes to tell me that a) I can't take the over-the-counter stuff I was taking 'cus it's playing with my blood pressure, b), give me directions to the local pharmacy, and
c), document and handle everything for the company, no problem.
So, after that, it was kind of nice to get back to my barge and start my medication, but even so, I felt sort of like I had a reprieve. It was nice to go somewhere where the houses were clean, and there were green plants.