Surreal in And So It Goes

  • April 15, 2020, 6:48 p.m.
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  • Public


Surreal is the only word I can think of for this past Friday, Good Friday, only the second time we have left the house in four weeks. The first time was for The Great Brit/TGB (my husband) to see a spinal neurosurgeon. Yesterday’s outing was for a follow-up MRI and X-rays. My sweet neighbor had made us quilted face masks with a place to insert a filter. We wore them to our appointments.
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When we arrived at the four-story medical building, there was a check-in station outside the door. Our temperature was taken, we were asked a series of questions.

Have you been out of the country?
Have you traveled to New York, NewJersey or Connecticut in the last 48 hours?
Have you been on a cruise ship in the last 48 hours?

Unless someone who has lived under a rock for the past two months or is insane or certifiably stupid would answer “yes” to any of those questions? We had our temperatures taken, hands sanitized and were admitted. There were paper masks available. I assumed we were not given paper masks because we had our own.

I was able to accompany TGB to the MRI office, but only because he cannot hear. I helped him with paperwork and then had to leave. There were no other patients there just the receptionist. She told me that I could sit on a bench in the lobby and that the MRI would take 90 minutes. There were three benches and two wheelchairs in the lobby. I first chose to sit on a hard wooden bench with no backing placed underneath two paintings. I found that I couldn’t stay there very long because if I leaned against the wall to support my back, my head hit the bottom of the picture frame. I tried to persevere, but could not keep sitting there with my back having no support. I decided to move to the bench across from me. It was placed underneath the glass listing each doctor’s name and office number.

People were coming in and out of the lobby, some wearing masks of their own, others wearing paper masks they were given outside the door and many with no mask at all. At first, I couldn’t understand the whole mask thing and why some people had no masks. Eventually, I figured out that the people who were given masks outside were those going to get x-rays. People who did not have their own masks and were not going to x-ray were on their own. This didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. I later realized that X-Ray took walk-in appointments, it was a large crowded waiting room and they were in close contact with the technicians.

As I sat there in the lobby waiting, a very large man with no mask and accompanied by an older man lumbered up to read the sign with the doctors’ office is listed. He stood over me about 6 inches away and began reading off each and every doctor’s name and office number the older man noticed me shrinking up against the wall so as not to be breathed on by the big younger man. The older man said to me, “he’s brain-injured and he’s my son.” Knowing this information did not make me feel any less exposed to the younger guy breathing on me. The father did tell the son to back up.

Quite a few people were coming and going to the elevators. Again some with masks, some without them. Some people used their fingers to press the elevator buttons, others tried using their elbows, and still, others poked at the buttons with their car keys. It was all pretty disheartening. At one point of a young woman carrying an infant in a baby carrier came walking in with no mask, no covering over the baby at all and I could see that it was fairly newly born. She too stood there reading the listing of doctors’ offices, but at a greater distance away from me than a previous man. I could not help asking her how old her baby was. She replied that the baby was 15 days old. I was horrified that she was lugging this baby around a medical office building with no covering over it whatsoever and no protection for herself. I was actually incredulous. The mother went ahead and started pushing elevator buttons with her fingers, got on the elevator, soon came back off the elevator came over and read the sign aloud again and said to me, “I don’t see the doctors’ office listed. I’m just going to have to go up to the fourth floor (the top) and push every button for every floor and search for the office.” Off she went.

After almost 2 hours of this insanity, my husband came out and we proceeded to the fourth floor for x-rays. When we got to the x-ray sign in room there were a lot of people seated all of them wearing masks. Evidently, the procedure was that those with appointments as we had, were immediately led down to another office suite where there was seating for about six people with the chairs all placed 6 feet apart. The people who are in the reception room I think were called as there was availability for them. We only had about a 15-minute wait until John was called back for x-rays and we were then free to go home. I could not wait to get out of there.

I have fretted and worried about that baby for the last three days. The entire thing was a very surreal experience. Except for this trip for a required MRI for TGB, we have not really been out of this house. It’s a strange world out there now. It’s just so different and difficult to understand all the ramifications of this virus.

We have a very easy life here with everything we want or need. We are never bored. We are never really lonely. We have neighbors who have been wonderful to us and friends whom we miss seeing, but are there for us through the magic of the Internet. We continually monitor the television news and read both the local paper and the UK telegraph every day. I feel as if we are getting a very good global overview of this worldwide pandemic. All that being said, if I had to summit up the world today in just one word, that word would be “ Surreal.


Last updated April 15, 2020


Marg April 15, 2020

Surreal covers it! That’s incredible about the baby - I wonder if the appointment was for him/her? Or for the mum and she was a single mother or something?

ConnieK April 15, 2020

Did the son back up when the father told him to? I would have said something and moved! Our world has changed dramatically.

noko April 15, 2020

Eek. Seriously. How disturbing. Glad you two are doing okay.

queenofegypt April 15, 2020

I would be terrified to have a brand new baby right now.

Anaiss April 16, 2020

Wow. I'm incredulous about that young mother's behavior as well. I hope for her baby's sake that she will be okay. Sounds like you observed quite a variety of humanity.

Beret April 18, 2020

Surreal about covers it. That sounds like an awful experience.

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