First, let me say that I didn’t choose to commute nearly 150 miles each day. It was a byproduct of my being a trailing spouse that over time became a monster I couldn’t control.
I make the best of it. I take the train when I can. I leave the necessary work vehicle in Oakland, pedal to the Coliseum Amtrak station and pay $11.75 to get home to the Central Valley.
Sure, I must be crazy. But so must thousands of others who chose such a life.
There are many reasons why one should avoid this arrangment. This weekend, I came up with one more.
Would that I had blogged about this Friday night, but I was in too much pain.
Seems the flu shot I got Nov. 12 was administred just a bit ham-fistededly, causing a bruise on the inside of my arm that bothered a nerve that sent waves of pain from my shoulder to my fingers.
It hit me as I was driving down I-80 Friday morning, so I popped three ibuprofens and that made me fit for work until about 4 p.m. or so, when Wave No. 2 made my face go through contortions that elicited concerned looks and comments from my colleagues. I popped four ibuprofen tabs, which didn’t stop the pain, but dulled it enough so I could finish the holiday getaway story I’d been working on.
Oddly enough, there were massage tables set up in our lunchroom for some kind of introductory service a local company was hawking. That reminded me of tables where you donate blood, which reminded me of needles which in turn reminded me that my writhing arm had been injected a few days earlier.
I feared the worst. After avoiding flu shots for a decade, I finally decided to get one, only to have the reaction that discouraged me from getting vaccinated for so long.
I was wrong, but I didn’t know that and didn’t want to end up gasping for air on the drive home. It was Friday, so I have to take the car home.
I call my primary care provider out in the wilds of the Central Valley. They give me the advice nurse. She says I might be reacting to the vaccine. She was wrong. She tells me I should come in to urgent care, which is only 75 miles away. I tell her I’m in Oakland.
So she tells me to go to an emergency room. I might as well have been in Phoenix. I drive to Alta Bates Summit Hospital in Oakland, most of the way debating with myself whether I should just drive home and avoid the horrendous co-pay I’ll be charged when they find out all I have is a non-admittable boo-boo.
Sure enough, after three hours of waiting until all the really sick and injured people were seen, they told me I have this bruise no one can really see, and that’s why it hurts so much.
I’m relieved hear this, I pop some more ibuprofen and drive home, all the while wondering how much this little bit of self-assurance will cost me.
So besides being so far removed from my home, my belongings, my dog and my bed, I’m impossibly far from a doctor where I can reasonably expect will cost me no more than a $15 co-pay.
This is the same struggle I have whenever I need to see a dentist (Oakland or the valley? At least I have that choice.) or need to take my dog to the vet’s.
I’m not expecting a bailout. I’m the sort of commuter who needs to be punished by society, at least if you believe the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments. Remote health care is just one more cross I’ve nailed myself to.
Photo from http://health.state.tn.us.