The Emergency Room

He climbed out of the car with difficulty, grasping the frame of the car trying to place his hands anywhere for leverage. With a great deal of effort he slowly moved his leg, wincing as it moved. Finally he placed his foot on the ground and stood. Stooping, he looked at me and I noticed his face was gaunt and he looked tired.

He shuffled as we walked into the comfort of the warm house. His left leg was very swollen causing the fabric to stretch tightly. To accommodate his swollen feet he had taken the heel of the shoe and broke it, mashing it into the sole of the shoe to create a slip on.

We talked for a bit and he said he had a hernia. He wanted me to take him to the doctor because the doctors in So CA did not know what they were doing. The hernia was causing a blood infection in his leg and that was the problem. He said he had made an appointment the night before and his appointment was at 10:00 AM in building 777. Since it was early Tuesday morning, traffic would be bad so we left at 8:30.

My father had served in the Air Force for 28 years. As a child we had lived in Ohio, Washington, France, Turkey, Delaware, and finally settled in Southern CA because my mother wanted to live in a place that had lots of Japanese food. He served two tours of duty in Viet Nam. He retired from the Air Force and then held various jobs. Because of his service in the Air Force his retirement benefit included medical care.

We drove to the Air Base and were waved through the gate by the sentry. T As I parked the car, I asked my father what was the name of the doctor. He didn’t know. I asked him in what department was he supposed to be seen. He didn’t know.  I asked him who he spoke with to make the appointment. He didn’t know that either. LESSON 1: Make Sure to have Names Before Driving. After spending about 1 hour with Patient Services and being told his name was not even in the system, we got back in the car and drove home.

Once we got home, my father found the piece of newspaper on which he had written his notes with a Sharpie. He could only find one name, Sharon, otherwise there were only phone numbers written in various angles across the newsprint. He called 3 numbers insisting he spoke with someone, but again, he was told they could not find an appointment for him. Finally, I took the phone and asked if he could be seen in the Emergency Room. The answer was, yes, come in anytime.

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