Communication Confusion and When 94 is a Flunking Grade


I was just finishing up a project after spending the wee hours of the morning driving down to Gramma and Papa’s house. I signed off, “Without further ado…”

“Don’t you mean adieu?” inquired Gramma J.

Did I? Ah, mother. “When you depart from me sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave.” (Apparently from Shakespeare’s “Much Adieu About Nothing.”) Perhaps this called for a song to appropriately end a conversation of such foolish or unnecessary talk. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Ado, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yooo…”

But the exchange was cut short as Papa burst in, eager to see his special boys. “I just walk down the driveway. You know what I see? POOP!” And all three burst into peals of hysterical laughter. Young or old – all boys inherently have the maturity of a 12-year-old.

Destroy blew a raspberry into the air. “I tooted!” And all three once again collapsed into fits of laughter. Forty-five minutes of potty humor (and one actual digestional unpleasantry) later and Papa looked up. “What toot mean?” he finally asked.

Home for the holidays – where individuals of all ages learn new vocabulary.

(To clarify, Gramma J totally knew the difference of ado/adieu, but has been spending too much time alone with Papa in her retirement and so the turn of phrase placed just before the summarily dismissal of a letter looked funny to her. We’ve all had those moments – where you’re staring at a document thinking, “What’s that word article? T-H-E. No, that looks wrong. T-E-H. No, that looks wronger. But I digress…)

Alas, the evening’s mirth was short-lived. As a new day dawned, it became obvious that Search still had a fever. This brought us to day 5. I tried to chalk it up to the blazing sun beating down on my boys, but then the kid asked to take a nap.

He claimed he couldn’t cough because it hurt his chest to do so. And his raspy voice quieted to betray matching raspy breathing. I never have trusted preemie lungs.

Off to the doctor.

Now, we are happy members of Kaiser Permanente. They took very good care of us and, more importantly, we didn’t go bankrupt during the great pregnancy failure of 2010. So let me offer my insurance provider of choice some friendly advice: Northern California and Southern California, despite two very distinct cultures, are very much still the same state. As this seems to be a geographical difficulty for them, we sat in the urgent care waiting room while the medical assistant assigned to spend his Turkey Day checking-in adults with bubonic plague attempted to finagle a “Southern California Member Number” to augment our well-worn “Northern California Member Number.”

It took some time due to interruptions provided by other afflicted parties joining the wait. One woman charged in. “Look, my father is very sick. And let me tell you, he is not well. We need to see the BEST doctor you have. List them. Who do you have on duty right now? We need to see the BEST doctor you have. Mmmhmm. Uh huh. And where did he get his training? It’s a woman? Is she the BEST doctor you have?”

I wanted to call out, “Look, if you’ll just hold off a sec, once we get a ‘Southern California Member Number’ we’ll go ahead and take one of the decidedly shitty doctors back there off your roulette wheel…”

I did not get to make any snarky commentary because Search was growing increasingly impatient with Papa’s ability to accurately read the Locomotive book we’d brought along. I returned to my seat to hear, “…and the prairie dog tastes like chicken…” just as Search hoisted the hardcover out of Papa’s hands and into my lap. “He’s doing it wrong, Mommy. You read.”

Finally we were sent off with our fancy new number to find the Pediatrics clinic allegedly located in the building across the street.

“Here we go,” Papa said. I looked up. A large white-lettered sign proclaiming, “GERIATRICS” stared back at me.

“Here we do not go, Papa,” I pointed out. “In fact, that’s actually the exact opposite of pediatrics. It means old people. Perhaps we should leave you here.”

Once we found the primary-colored kiddo clinic dotted with books, toys and a giant aquarium, Search promptly flunked his PulseOx saturation measurement.

94 the despicable blinky/beepy machine taunted me. 94. 94. 94.

“He doesn’t look like 94,” I pointed out. He was feverish and flushed. A 94 kid should appear a lethargic bluish/gray.

“I want to go play,” declared Search. “Actually, can we go home? Mommy said there was ice cream pie.”

Thankfully, his lungs sounded clear. The checkup took a bit longer than anticipated because Search refused to take a deep breath for the doctor, so she had to wait till he ran out of air and involuntarily took another gulp.

We retested his PulseOx with a different machine. This time we got a 95 (it should never be less than 97) further cementing said contraptions status as my mortal enemy. The doctor may have noticed the stink-eye I shot at the machine.

“He’s probably just reading low due to a lack of cooperation. I don’t think he looks low either.” She sent us off with a clean bill of health. Well as long as the fever doesn’t come back. Because that might translate to pneumonia.

Adieu medical maladies – really there was no reason for such ado.


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Filed under Family Stories, Holidays, Humor, Search, Seriously?

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