Huxley narrowly escapes The Swine Flu

We brought Huxley in for his first doctor visit yesterday. Everything was fine. But since we were going to a clinic with an urgent care unit, I expected to see a lot of people with the flu in the waiting room. There is always a lot of messing around in the waiting room, with a two stage sign in process, a need to show ID, sign stuff, etc. etc. and then there would be a wait in the waiting room breathing in H1N1 kooties. My plan was to keep Huxley, who was in the nifty car seat-stroller thingie and well bundled against the elements, in the entrance way of the building or even in the parking lot while Amanda did what we were already told would be extended paperwork attendant to a first visit. Then, I would await Amanda’s signal through the clinic’s window when it was time to go into an exam room.

But that is not how it worked out at all.

I once worked, briefly, with a guy who kept big cats. My interest was research related, and his was in using the cats in movies and commercials, and in following the Ren-Fest circuit. He had one lion in particular that you may know. If you’ve seen the Dreyfus commercial with the lion, that’s him. He also did some work for MGM, so some recent depictions of the MGM lion are the same cat.

At the Ren Fest, people, especially kids, could get their picture taken with the lion. The photograph would show you sitting right next to the lion’s head, with your arm around the beast, lion staring more or less into the camera.

Even though this particular lion was very accustom to humans and relatively docile, there was always a chance that he could turn his head and nom-nom-nom the customer. So here’s how it was done to avoid that:

1) The lion had a collar, not visible under the mane. This collar was attached to a short chain affixed to the platform on which the lion and customer would sit. So, the lion could not move very far, but could still turn his head to the left to nom-nom-nom if he was so inclined.

2) The customer would be accompanied to the lion by the lion’s owner, who would be standing behind the customer like in a Tango, with his left hand on the customer’s left arm, and right arm on the customer’s right wrist, extending the customer’s arm well out to the side. The only way you would move towards the lion would be if the lion’s owner moved you there, and he would the place your arm around the lion’s mane and duck to the side. Since the mane was bushy and the camera in close, the lion’s owner would not be visible in the picture, but if he saw anything even a little funny he’d pull the customer away in an instant, and now and then, cancel the next few pictures and take the lion out back for a little calming down. It was key to keep the customer back behind a certain plane behind the lion’s face. Thus the tight grip and total control over the customer’s location.

3) A big scary guy would be standing immediately on the other side of the lion with a stick ready to jam the stick into the lion’s mouth. Not that he looked like he was going to do that. He just looked like a medieval guy in medieval cloths with a cane. But he was there to put the stick (the cane) into the lion’s mouth if needed.

4) The guy taking the picture was constantly talking to the lion, keeping his attention.

So, the first person in line would be brought quickly to the lion, before anyone … the customer, the lion, any nervous parental onlookers … even knew what was happening, the customer would be planted on the lion, the photo snapped, the customer pulled away from the lion and escorted off in the other direction by a helper while the lion’s owner grabbed the next customer. In and out, in and out, in and out. No time for the lion to bite the child.

So, we got to the clinic and the H1N1 virus was the lion, the receptionist was the lion’s owner, a pediatrics nurse was the big guy with the stick, and so on, as we were escorted instantly past about 25 very sick looking people (including several obviously viral children) instead of showing ID, filling out paperwork, etc. We were escorted quickly and directly into The Elmo Room, where we filled out the paper work, got weighed (well, they weighed Huxley), got seen by the doctor, filled out some more paper work… and were then hustled out of the building past all the plague ridden pheasants, I mean, sick clinic customers, and out into the parking lot.

Phew …. close call….

Comments

  1. #1 Jodi
    December 4, 2009

    Nice analogy! I really enjoyed the lion tale (har har) I always wondered about how that was done.
    The clinic experience reminded me of my own experience at a flu ridden clinic a couple weeks ago when I went in to get my ribs checked out. While I was standing at the counter signing in (the entrance door behind me) the receptionist suddenly cut off from speaking, eyes wide, jumped up ran out the door beside her and yelled to the man behind me to ‘GET IT THAT ROOM’ (while pointing down the hallway). She continued to shuffle him off while stating in high tones that ‘These people are all SICK out here, Go go!’. Turns out he had a baby with him.
    My first thought was ‘I’m not sick…… it’s just my ribs … can’t I go in there too? *mewl*’

  2. #2 Charles
    December 4, 2009

    Nice story, very dramatic.
    I imagine Huxley being secreted past the evil germs while the theme song from Mission Impossible is playing in the background.

    That’s the original theme song, btw, where the time signature for the whole piece is in 5/4.

    Listen to original version (below), and tell me if it’s fitting.

  3. #3 Paul D.
    December 4, 2009

    It was Huxley’s namesake’s early encounters with circus cnidarians that would lead to his later scientific interests.

  4. #4 badrescher
    December 5, 2009

    You got me. For 3/4 of the post I’m thinking, “What, no well-baby room?!” I keep forgetting that this is your first time doing this.

    Bravo to the hospital for the hustle, though. Glad to hear that they are still taking this thing seriously. Too many have brushed it aside or think it’s all over with.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2009

    I keep forgetting that this is your first time doing this.

    Well, it isn’t my first time, but my older kid is 14, and the new models are a bit different. What’s a “well baby room”? You must be from Canadia or something.. sounds socialistic.

  6. #6 Diane G.
    December 5, 2009

    Aww. Dodged the first bullet. Only a jillion left till the parents can breathe comfortably. In about 18 – 30 years… (Bet there are times you wish you could still run interference for the 14-year-old…)

    I’ve been on the other side of this. Had to take my toddler in (forget why, now) when he obviously had chicken pox. Was told over the phone to drive to the back door of the clinic and bang on it till someone came to let us in, so as to avoid the waiting room. To do so, had to squeeze car down an alley with dumpsters surrounded by broken glass. Made it, got child seen by doctor, got let out back door, drove a couple of blocks…& discovered I now had a very flat tire. Along with, of course, a sick, cranky kid. Oh, and did I mention that, in accordance with the First Law of Sick Babies, this was on a Sunday, and we were way the hell downtown where the only after-hours ped clinic was located?

    Didn’t think I should try to jack up car with tot inside…didn’t think I could hold him & jack car at same time…Not the kind of neighborhood you want to spend a lot of time in…(Happy ending–able to call white knight in form of husband…)

    * * *

    Wow, really something the way you worked that lion story in! :D

  7. #7 SQB
    December 5, 2009

    * First Law of Sick Babies: Always during the weekend.
    * Second Law oSB: They start showing symptoms friday afternoon, but it doesn’t look too serious. It does once your regular doctor’s office is closed and the only option left is the emergency room.
    * Third Law oSB: Once you get there, symptoms will have subsided and the doctor looks at you as if he’s mentally looking up Münchhausen by Proxy and wondering whether he should report you.

  8. #8 momkat
    December 5, 2009

    “…past all the plague ridden pheasants…”

    I’m just wondering why you chose a peds office with sick birds in the waiting room. Does it have a vet side business to help make ends meet?

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2009

    Because I thought it was funny?

  10. #10 (((Billy))) The Atheist
    December 6, 2009

    When I was going through my six week bought with H1N1 (including pneumonia), I was treated well, effectively, and at a distance (Geisinger is a wonderful non-profit regional system). Those exhibiting any flu-like symptoms were asked to come in a side door where we were met by a nurse with face masks and hand-sanitizer. Only then could we go and check in. And, except for having my throat examined (some lesions due to the hacking), my mask stayed on and they gave me a little bottle of sanitizer and asked me to keep using it while I was there. I did.

    The pediatrics area has a well-child play area (separated physically from the sick kids). They also had a glassed-in area for those with flu symptoms. A third area handled sick by not piggy children.

    It is nice to see that the health care professionals take this stuff seriously but don’t panic. They did have plans in place to deal with such eventualities.

    Glad to hear the little one is good.

  11. #11 Monado
    December 6, 2009

    Your adventures with Huxley are a treat–how did you work in that lion? How they handle it safely is fascinating.

    The contagion issue hasn’t come up for me, but most of my doctors and clinics have only one waiting room. My family doctor has a small one but there’s never more than one other person in it. My local multi-doctor clinic has a large waiting room on each floor for a group of family doctors (GPs). I don’t know how they handle contagious illnesses: they might send them to a different floor or tuck them into a particular office or just give them a mask, but I go there only for Saturdays, Sundays, and after hours or for lab tests, so I don’t know. However, the floor plans in both places are at least thirty years old.

    The clinic has one set of patient records, at least for all the GPs and the labs. So you have a regular doctor, but you can make an appointment with another doctor or just walk in and see the on-call doctor. Usually about three doctors are holding office hours and one of them is there to see walk-ins. You just show your provincial health-insurance card at Reception. If you get decent state health insurance, look for a setup like that. It’s very convenient because you can always see a doctor if they’re open and they can refer you to a specialist with a private office in the same building.

    There are labs in the building, so if you need a blood test, an X-ray image, or an ultrasound scan, they send you downstairs; and you return to the clinic in a few days when the results are in. Of course you don’t have to go to the same lab: any lab will do your tests and send the results to the doctor who prescribed them.

    This week, in Toronto, the free clinics set up by the provincial health agency started giving both flu vaccines. I’ve had the Mexican swine-flu inoculation. (I’m getting the seasonal one next Friday at work, where the employer has arranged for a service to come in as a convenience for employees.) But if anyone hasn’t had either, he or she can get one in each arm. I hear that 2/3 of the Canadian population has been vaccinated. No one that I know of has died of vaccination, but about 350 have died of swine flu.

  12. #12 Monkey
    December 10, 2009

    I don’t think well baby/kid rooms are a particularly new model. When I was a young child (I’m 29 now) my pediatrician actually had two waiting rooms; the reception area was central and there were separate doors on either side of the lobby. One was for sick kids, the other for well. It worked beautifully and until I had kids myself I had no idea that it wasn’t standard everywhere (still not sure why it isn’t, actually).