My first visit back to the doctor’s office

By L.A. Taylor

On Monday, August 17, 2020, I had my first visit to the doctor’s office since COVID-19 disrupted our lives. Before this visit, I’d seen my primary care physician for my physical and one specialist, but more bloodwork was required, more tests, and exams. Instead, I waited.

I waited at home, grateful to not have any emergencies or flares that would cause me to have to go to the hospital or the doctor’s office.

Ah. The relief.

So many years, I was in and out of hospitals. Now, during one of the most severe and critical times of our lives, health-wise, I did not have to go. I believe this to be for several reasons, mainly my trust in God.

Still, I waited. Careful, cautious, content to stay sheltered with my immediate family. My hope was for the virus to go away. When that did not happen, my hope became a plea for my faith to rise above the fear of the lingering virus.

Over time, I stepped out into the streets, socially distanced and masked, most of the time. There was that one occasion:  I was running behind and hopped into the backseat of a family member’s car, who was taking me to the post office. In my haste, I had forgotten my mask. Fear tried to grip me, with thoughts of my sister, my family’s precious cargo, who had nearly died several years ago from double pneumonia. My sister had been on a breathing machine, and due to her special medical needs, we could not imagine being separated from her if she was ever sick. I chose to counter those thoughts with words of faith, replacing one bad idea with a better one. Then I prayed about it and decided not to fear.

Everything worked out for me, and I learned to keep a spare mask in my purse.

The view from my window changed during those rides across town, too. In April, the trip was reminiscent of a ghost town, strange and cold. People were mean and stingy and full of fear. As businesses reopened, I noticed more and more traffic, more drive-thru’s filled with cars and people resuming life with more kindness and more faith. The mood in the air had changed to hope. I sensed that we, the people, were going to make life worth living again. Of course, I still wore my mask, but I ventured out: to church, to Panera Bread, and even a family funeral that thank God was not COVID related but sad, nonetheless. I did all these things but had not reached a comfort level about going around potentially sick people.

Finally, it was time for a follow-up appointment with my specialist. We opted for telemedicine, given the situation.

On the appointed date, my specialist and I stared at each other through digital screens while talking about my health over the phone because the audio on his computer was not working. What a sight we were. He hated it—the part about not physically seeing his patient—but again, I was grateful.

If only I could draw my blood, perform an EKG and take X-rays through the computer or phone. I’d never return.

Reality led me back into the doctor’s office this past Monday. 

To say it was odd to see lines of people standing outside, behind neon-taped markings six feet apart on the sidewalk, filling out paperwork on clipboards and having their temperatures taken by clinicians with white masks and blue gloves on, is an understatement. The only thing normal was the kindness of the Ocala Family Medical Center (OFMC) staff.

While patients were physically more distant, the staff and clinicians—who have done their essential duties day after day in small spaces, in the outside heat at times, wearing masks and plastic gloves—were kind, patient, and thorough.

My church has a saying for volunteers—“I was made for this.” We work by this mantra.

As I left the doctor’s office, I thought about how my church’s affirmation also applied to my encounter with the OFMC staff. The front desk workers, phlebotomists, and clinicians were made for care and compassion regardless of circumstance because this is their ministry. Despite a pandemic, the pivots, and adjustments, they shined bright with a smile I could fully see in their eyes and hear in their voices. 

If anything, COVID-19 has shown me what working in your ministry, your calling, your purpose is. It’s a smile that shines through, no matter the situation.

I notice it at the grocery store with some service workers. I saw it with people who delivered food to cars under a sweltering Florida sun when the virus first began. I hope to witness it in anyone whose career requires them to have physical contact with other humans.

These are the real leaders, the servant leaders who work honorably without notoriety. God bless and keep you. You make our visits better than expected.

If you know someone who is rocking it on their job, despite our new normal, please let me know. I’d love to celebrate these ministry workers with you. 🦋 REALLYLEAH.COM

© 8/20/20

Photo credit: Thanks, Georg Arthur Pflueger.

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