There is something really special about living in a small town. Ours isn’t small as in the village my mom grew up in small, but the city we live near has a population of around 26,000 people. We have easy access to most important life lines such as Starbucks and Walmart….oh yes, and current, nearly state of the art health care services.
We are lucky to have the population that enjoys some of the larger city privileges coupled with great personal service from the people who you meet when you are enjoying, say, your annual complete physical exam. From your physician, a man whose child perhaps is on your kid’s hockey team. Someone whose wife is your friend, so you find yourself sitting with them at tournaments, occasionally going for lunch….you know, the type of familiarity that makes your annual exam so comfortable and relaxing.
The nurse who accompanies the doctor for said exam is also someone I know. She lives across the field from me. I have babysat her kids. I have also taken care of her cat, which she delivered to my yard complete with cat house and four baby kittens. She hasn’t come back for them yet, and that was nine years ago. I’m glad she didn’t do that with her kids.
What follows is a completely true story. I was in the doctor’s office for my exam that is supposed to be annual, but it never is, mostly because it usually takes me a good three years to talk myself into making the appointment. I had been measured and weighed and looked at and was now willingly subjecting myself to the very flattering flood light which I’m sure would do a lot for my complexion if it were aimed at my face – which it’s not. As the procedure begins the doctor reminds me to relax…oh right, I forgot to do that…and we begin. The nurse who lives across the field from me is telling me all about the Halloween candy she bought and how I should bring my kids over between this hour and that so that we can have a visit. I can hardly process any of the information she’s giving me because I am cold, vulnerable and trying to hold my beautiful paper dress together. I was just about to ask her to write down anything that I needed to actually remember when the fire alarm went off in the clinic. The fire alarm. I never considered what I would do if caught in a fire during this particular procedure. I bet there’s never been a fire drill to practice how swiftly a doctor can remove their paraphernalia while the patient leaps off the table and runs down the stairs to safety on the street below the clinic.
My doctor paused for a moment, then said “I think we’ll just finish up here, I’m sure everything’s fine”. Apparently he was right, because another nurse – one I don’t know – gave a quick micro knock and threw open the door to announce that all was well, no need to panick. Thanks for that. This was the door to the hallway. It would make for a better story if someone was walking by in the hallway but obviously this was my lucky day because no one else was behind her.
It is great to live in a place where people are caring enough to let you know that you can just relax when there’s a fire alarm. No need to panick when you are in a vulnerable position wearing a paper dress and the building may be on fire. Everyone will look out for you because they know you. Everyone from the doctor to the nurse, to the news broadcasters who will have no doubt gathered outside the burning clinic to video your sorry self running away from the building in a paper dress which is on fire. Ok, that last part didn’t happen. Because it was my lucky day.
I truly do love the fact that we live in such a familiar community. I have enjoyed visiting with my sister-in-law while she assisted on my ultrasound, which was being done by a man whose daughters I have taught in Sunday school. A mom whose son plays football with mine is a lab tech and she teases me that I can’t look when they take my blood. It’s great to have people involved in your health care who are so comfortable with you that they will come to visit and discuss scrapbooking during your mammogram.
I am thankful that I live in such a friendly and social community. It’s nice to know that you are surrounded by familiar faces who care about your comfort and well-being when you find yourself feeling vulnerable.