Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why I Love Urgent Care

Yesterday, I developed a horrible headache. I knew it was my sinuses because that's what always causes my headaches -- they occur every 3-4 months, in just about the same way. I suspect I have an inherited deviated septum issue, but no doctor has signed me off for surgery to correct that yet. Basically, until I sneeze, I am congested and in significant pain all over the left side of my head, from the crown to the upper left molars. If I can't sneeze, I have to see a doctor.

I called my primary care provider's office at 11 a.m. this morning when I knew I had to get an intervention. The soonest they could see me, even after hearing that I was in intense pain, was 3 p.m. I knew I couldn't wait four more hours for relief. I'd been through this at my PCP's office previously. That 3 p.m. appointment, I knew, would be more like a 4:15 p.m. appointment. That meant not getting my prescriptions* to a pharmacy until nearly 5 p.m., and dealing with the after work rush. I knew that meant I'd not get relief until 6 p.m. or later.

So I drove directly to my favorite urgent care clinic. My insurance only requires a $30 co-pay at urgent care. Though I had about an hour wait, I was dropping off my prescriptions at 1 p.m. The three wonderful drugs were in my hands by 1:30, and I was home, taking them just a few minutes later. I took a nap, and woke up pain-free at 4 p.m. -- likely before I would have even seen the physician's assistant they'd assigned me to at my PCP's office.

I know urgent care offices don't provide the same level of care that a primary care provider does. I know that there is no consistency to this care, and that if I want long-term relief, I've got to visit my PCP and get signed off for a sinus surgery. However, I just can't help but be incredibly thankful that I was able to get relief hours before I even would have seen the physician's assistant this afternoon.

*By now, no matter where I go, I know these headaches will result in a prescription for hydrocodone, a z-pack, and prednisone.

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