For the past couple of days, while the world continued spinning on the outside, our heads and stomachs were spinning on the inside, so Leah and I felt it only right to isolate ourselves inside our thin protective layer of Airstream aluminum. However, yesterday, we broke the seal of our quarantine capsule long enough to scoop up the provisions scattered across the lawn of our RV dock dropped by the Red Cross airlift (just kidding)–only to button up again, and shamelessly drift back to our TV bingeing (not kidding).
In actuality, we momentarily left the recycled air of the Airstream on Wednesday, to venture across the highway to the Urgent Care Center. My cold symptoms and sinus headaches were no better after a week in Mexico, so it was time for medical intervention. And Leah was now reporting symptoms of her own, and blaming me for sharing.
After taking a number and waiting patiently in a room full of sick people wearing yellow face-masks, it was my turn to to be treated…soon.
“Why are you here?” intoned Nurse Ratched, speaking through a yellow face-mask of her own.
“Congestion and sinus headache,” I coughed.
“May I see your ID and insurance card, please,” asked the intake operative.
I offered my Driver License and Medicare Card–my first time using it.
“Just so you know, you’re responsible for the $42 surcharge not covered by Medicare,” she alerted.
Offering another card, “But I have my supplemental insurance from EmblemHealth. This should cover it.”
“I’m sorry but your supplemental insurance is not valid for the balance,” she argued.
“No need for an apology. EmblemHealth is a bonafide payer. Trust me. They’re supposed to cover the Medicare balance,” I insisted.
Nurse Ratched seemed annoyed that she wasn’t collecting any money from me. She pecked some data into her computer monitor, and eventually provided me with a yellow mask and a pile of papers to fill out before being seen.
After an hour, Dr. B confirmed, “You’re got acute sinusitis. I’m treating it with a 6-day steroid pack, and an antibiotic, but only to be taken if symptoms continue after a week.”
“I guess I’m off the hook for your cold, since a sinus infection isn’t contagious,” I declared.
Usually, within the confines of a small park, there are self-appointed watchdogs who keep tabs on the comings and goings of all park residents with a perfunctory wave, but I don’t think anybody missed us, or even noticed when we returned from our brief encounter. We’ve survived here in relative obscurity since pulling into the Timberlane RV Park and Resort of Bradenton a few days ago.
Usually, after setting up camp, we’d walk among the giant coaches and 5th wheels to compare and contrast, wave to our fellow campers in arms, and find common ground: the office, the laundry, the social hall. But not here. And even if we were up to it, the freezing temperatures in central Florida have driven the most ardent RV residents into the hive of their own tiny houses, leaving us with little chance of introducing ourselves–all of us waiting for Florida’s Big Thaw and Saturday’s potluck dinner, scheduled for 4PM.
Thursday and Friday were true days of recovery. Leah lounged under blankets in the front of the Airstream (the bedroom), catching up on Shameless, while I stretched out in the rear of the Airstream (beside the dinette), streaming episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Occasionally, there were moments of silence and relief, but more often than not, the reflexes between us were too strong to hold back, and the Airstream would erupt into uncontrollable and otherworldly jags of coughing, sneezing, hacking, expectorating and farting. I wondered if our noises echoed beyond our asylum, and if the neighbors suspected if something inhumane was going on under their noses, like the tragedy in Perris, CA.
But then the cabin would go quiet, and I figured we were safe from watchdog surveillance. As gross as it sounds, the hardest decision during those two days was figuring whether to swallow or spit.
Now it’s Saturday, and recovery is on the horizon. Residents are already parading to the social hall with specialty, home-made, wrapped dishes in hand, in eager anticipation of creating new best acquaintances for another snowbird season.
I hope they like supermarket chocolate chip cookies.