Past three o’clock on s cold and frosty morning,
Past three o’clock good morrow masters all.
I am preparing to travel to Mass general Hospital in Boston for a couple of ‘procedures’ We won’t dwell on the nature of those tests; suffice to say it is not going to be a walk through the park. It will be akin to a medical kit inspection; make sure everything is squeaky clean and ready to engage.
Step one is to go down a rather elaborate check list of the things that I must not do prior to my visit. No food; no coffee; no alcoholic beverages of any description. My body must be as pure and clean as the driven snow. Paperwork that I must take with me; an assortment of different pills to be taken at different intervals; I.D’s of my current insurance coverage; a good book and my Ipod. A chronicle of my medical history for the past hundred years and my Family medical history from the year dot. A list of the various addresses, phone numbers and doctor’s names and phone numbers.
My walking cane to deal with any attending physicians and nurses should they, at any point, get out of line.
The airport was swathed in a thick blanket of fog but, regardless, the trusty Cape Air flight left at 7.50 right on time.
I settled into what passes for a seat in the minuscule cabin of the Cessna. As the plane gained altitude and we rise above the fog bank the view from the window is grey with patches of more grey. All went smoothly until we were about five minutes out of Boston. The pilot turned and with a fixed smile through clenched teeth informed us that we were going to be diverted to Providence since conditions in Boston made it impossible to land. Visibility was down to around three feet.
We landed in Providence at around nine o’clock and were informed that we would be driven by shuttle van to Boston. This was some thing of an omen I thought but since my first appointment was not until eleven I should arrive in Boston with time to spare.
Mass General is not much more than a couple of miles from the airport. The taxi fare was fifty bucks. This trip was going to be a pricey one!
The sprawling hospital complex covers several blocks. It resembles a giant factory with steam belching into the haze as a never ending stream of vehicles plough their way through the labyrinthian thoroughfares. There are innumerable centers and departments together with armies of attendants to direct would be patients to their appointments. It is a none stop parade of figures in blue surgical attire bustling around with clip boards and papers en route to their respective offices and the procession of bewildered patients trying to find out how to get to where ever it is they are required to be. I heard that one poor fellow became completely lost and, due to some glitch in his paper work, ended up in the maternity ward.
One has to be on one’s toes.
By some miracle I managed to locate the office for my first appointment. A rather dishy young nurse told me to roll up my sleeve so that she could administer an injection.
‘You will be radio active for about twenty four hours’ she told me.’ If you are traveling by air be sure to present this card at check in and security’ She smiled, ’See you back here in three hours?’
Radio active? They do work in mysterious ways their wonders to perform.
My next date was scheduled for 1.30 p.m. and I was told that I would be met by Felix who would transport me to another facility on the other side of town. Felix was having a bad hair day. Someone had driven their car into his rear bumper and although no one was hurt and there was not even a scratch on his vehicle he was obliged to follow the rules and fill out a form in triplicate enumerating all the pertinent facts of the accident. This of course did take an inordinate amount of time; I was trapped in the rear of the van. This was where the ipod came in very useful.
I would have given my left buttock for a cup of coffee and a muffin at this point, but that was not to be.
We had to make several more stops weaving in and out of the none stop traffic congestion but we did finally arrive at the building where my next procedure would take place.
By this time I was sporting several decorative white plastic wrist bracelets. This time an orange one was added to the increasing clutter.
The first speed bump occurred when I was informed that they were running behind by about an hour. It seemed that one of the more demanding patients had refused to wear the orange bracelet on account of it not going with her complexion. It had taken an hour to fill out all the forms needed to get a white one.
However this meant that I would not be able to return to my first appointment in time to have the procedure and in turn, this would mean that I would not be able to catch the last flight back to the island. I was told not to worry but as is always the case, when some one tells me not to worry, that is precisely what I do.
The receptionist informed me that they had called my other appointment and that they in turn had re scheduled me for 4.30 p.m. The procedure would take an hour which would leave me with thirty minutes to take a taxi, battle the rush hour, check in, pass through the cracker jack TSA security and present myself at the Cape Air gate to board my flight to the Island. I think the expression ‘Snowball’s chance in hell‘ flashed across my mind.
There are times in life when one is obliged to accept one’s fate with as much grace as possible.
This was not one of those times!
‘ Madame, at present I am doing my very best to understand. My day started at five thirty; my flight to Boston landed in Providence. I arrived much the worst for wear at MGH and since then I have been poked, prodded, documented, cross examined, filled out several extensive questionnaires and subjected myself, with the best co operation that I could muster, to all your inquisitions. My stomach at present thinks that my throat has been cut since I have had no food or drink since last evening. I am now facing the possibility that I will need to spend another night and several hundreds of dollars in your fair city. Would it be too much to tell me;
JUST WHAT, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS SACRED, IS GOING ON HERE? ‘
I have to give the receptionist her due; she did not bat an eye. My tantrum fell on deaf ears and I was left to climb into a ‘hospital gown’ This apparel was designed back in the days of Florence Nightingale with only one thought in mind; to make patient’s look and feel as spastic as possible. It fits where it touches; continually falls to the ground and is so flimsy that one sudden move can tear it off one’s back. Pajamas would be so much more becoming.
Both my procedures were eventually completed and I had survived relatively unscathed. I battled my way to Boston Logan arriving at the Cape AIr gate ten minutes after the last flight had been scheduled to leave. But thanks to the vagrancies of our weather patterns the flight was delayed by one hour! Which meant that I would return to the Island on the last flight that evening and, sweet thought, spend the night sleeping in my own warm and cushiony bed in my own house.
Living on the Far Away island has its drawbacks but when all is said and done it is a comfort to be cherished that we are only sixty miles away from some of the finest medical care in the world.
I humbly take back everything I said to the very pretty receptionist.
I am sending her some flowers.