A few weeks ago, I started to notice some changes in the vision in my left eye. Black specks, flashes of light; everything I read about it said I might be getting a detached retina, which is a pretty big deal. I immediately called my eye doctor, who referred me to a retina specialist. Now, I hadn’t been to a doctor’s office since January so I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was, frankly, a bit nervous about it.
I shouldn’t have worried. Docs are on top of this COVID-19 stuff. I got a phone call, “Ok, Mr. Bertaut, be sure you bring a mask with you; you’ll need to wear it the whole time you are here. If you don’t have one, we’ll give you one when you arrive. We will have a table set up under the awning in the parking lot to check you in, so don’t get out of your car when you get here.”
Sure enough, when I arrived at the doctor’s office, I drove under the awning and was met by someone wearing full protective gear, mask and gloves. I rolled down my window, and once she took my information and checked me in, she took my temperature, put eyedrops in to dilate my eye — all with me staying in my car — and then sent me to park and wait. “We’ll text you when we’re ready for you to come in,” she said. No more common area waiting room.
After they texted me, another clinic team member, also fully masked and gloved, walked me in and brought me to an exam room, where someone was cleaning everything. When the doc came in and checked me out, HE was masked and gloved, too. Overall, I felt entirely comfortable with the visit (and the results, since my eye turned out to be OK) and was impressed with how well this provider had adopted to our new reality.
Keep Up With Your Care
Since that appointment, I’ve visited other docs and even had an ER visit (don’t worry; I am fine). Everywhere I’ve been for treatment, the medical provider community has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep me and their other patients safe. I think we can conclude, and you can certainly check with your personal medical providers, that they are being ultra-careful right now, and it’s a good time to start resuming your normal visits.
I’ve even spoken to providers who are dividing their appointment times for maximum safety. For example, patients with chronic conditions coming in for routine checkups or those coming in for annual wellness visits are seen before lunch. Patients suspected of having an infection, like the flu or COVID-19, are seen after lunch. That way, it is impossible for possibly contagious patients and those who are having routine appointments to come into contact with each other in the office. Most providers I’ve spoken to have either done away with communal waiting rooms, or, as was the case in the ER visit I had recently, set up special accommodations for suspected COVID-19 patients far away from everyone else, in isolation.
In any event, if you’re not sure whether you need to schedule an appointment or reschedule something you put off because of COVID-19, CALL YOUR DOCTOR’s OFFICE and find out what the real deal is. Don’t just keep waiting this thing out. The reality is, COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, and you don’t want to become a casualty of the pandemic without even catching the disease! How terrible would that be?
What we DON’T want right now, is for our family, friends and neighbors in Louisiana to stop caring for or monitoring their chronic conditions, or to avoid seeking care in emergencies. We cannot let fear of COVID-19 scare us out of taking care of ourselves. Whether you are dealing with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood sugar issues, pulmonary issues or any other ongoing health condition, the time to get back under your doctor’s normal care is NOW. I think it’s much riskier at this point to let the fear of the current pandemic scare you out of getting necessary care for other health issues you might have going on.
Based on my personal experience, the medical provider community is ready, willing and able to keep you safe from COVID-19.
Get Back in Touch with Your Doctors
If you’re not sure what safety processes your doctor’s office put in place, call ahead. ASK THEM what they are doing to keep you safe. You might be able to do your visit via BlueCare, our telehealth service that allows you to see medical providers on a smartphone, computer or tablet, or your provider’s own telehealth service. But as we all know, some issues require an in-person visit. In those cases, your provider will be willing to work with you so you can safely come into the office.
The odds are, a chronic condition will require occasional check-ups and monitoring by your primary care provider, and you may also need lab work. So, don’t put it off too long; conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, left unchecked, can be very hard on your health and the quality of your life as you age. Unchecked blood pressure plus elevated blood sugar, for example, is a deadly mix to your kidneys. Louisiana already ranks highly among the states for cases of diabetes, as it does in renal failure. Let’s not let any of my loyal readers here at Straight Talk become additions to that statistic. And staying on top of your numbers for things like blood pressure and blood sugar is a good way for you and your doctor to notice any changes and address them early.
Straight Talk is, COVID or no COVID, your existing chronic conditions need to be managed, and your medical providers are working VERY hard to keep you safe. Get back to the doctor.