Going to the hospital or a medical center for an “out-patient” procedure is stressful. Getting a medical procedure done during a Pandemic is even more stressful. I went through the experience last week and want to share what took place.
I have had issues with my eyes for several years and have seen several doctors in Sarasota-Bradenton. Dr. Schwartz is one of the very best. After extensive testing he recommended that I go to the Center for Excellence in Eye Care in Miami, Florida and see Dr. Trattler.
The diagnosis was Pellucid Marginal Degeneration which affects the corneas. Dr. Trattler does a procedure called Epithelial-On Corneal Cross-Linking. There are very few doctors in the U.S. who perform the procedure that I needed.
The appointment was set and we went to Miami in February. It was almost an entire day of testing. At the end of the day I met with Dr. Trattler and we agreed that he would perform the procedure on both eyes on May 28, 2020. He said it was okay to wait for 3 months. I explained to him that February, March, and April were the busiest months for my business. And then, Covid 19 hit and all hell broke loose.
Medical procedure during pandemic?
I made the decision to move the procedure up a few weeks. There was no sense in waiting. Well, that is when the “stress” really began. In the old days I would just get in the car and drive to Miami, stopping along the way for gas, a quick restroom break, and some snacks at a rest-stop. Well, that has certainly changed. Here is a step by step list of events.
My girlfriend Laura and I worked on a plan. The procedure would be early morning on Wednesday but we had to go for a followup the very next day. So, we had to stay over for 2 nights and needed a hotel. The best price rate for a hotel was not the issue. We wanted clean, clean, clean! We booked at a Hilton that was right next door to the medical center. They assured us about the cleanliness of the hotel!
On the way there
We packed food for 3 days as we had no plans to get anything along the way or when we were in Miami. We packed breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks! All cold stuff, and that was fine. The drive to Miami was fine. We stopped once for gas and a bathroom break. The car was covered with “love bugs”.
Laura cleaned off the bugs and I gassed up the car, first wiping the pump with disinfectant, touching as little as possible around the gas pump. We ran into the bathroom, masks on, Clorox wipes in hand. Whew! Back in the car and the final leg of the trip.
We arrived in Miami about 2pm. The Hilton parking lot was empty. It was a beautiful hotel but a ghost town. The lobby was deserted, everything was closed… the snack bar, restaurant, Starbucks, gift shop. You could not sit in the lobby. One person handled check-in, paperless! He handed us the room card. Only 2 people were allowed in the elevator at a time!
The room? It was spotless. I mean immaculate! That did not stop me from going over the entire room with disinfectant. It made me feel better. We went out for a walk. The surgery center was right next door and we wanted to check things out. We watched an early movie and had an early meal. It was like camping out, but in a hotel room. We laughed, cried, and realized what a weird situation it was. But we felt safe.
The medical center
Next morning, we walked over to the medical center, a beautiful and spacious place. We were interviewed by a security person – where have we been, where are we from, why are we here? They took our temperature and we headed to the elevator. Only 4 people were allowed in the elevator and everyone had to wear a mask. They were very proactive which relieved my fears of having this medical procedure done during the pandemic.
As we started going up, I pressed “4” and the button just blinked. I panicked a bit. The elevator bypassed the floor. It turns out that because we were early the elevator would not open on the 4th floor. The Eye Center opened at 8am and the people had to unlock that floor before the elevator could stop there. We got off on the 6th floor and had to walk down 6 flights of stairs and start all over again, including security. Talk about stress!
Back in the elevator we got off at the 4th floor and Center for Excellence in Eye Care. They were very organized keeping all patients socially distanced. I had to do the usual paperwork which went smooth and then on to the 5th floor where the procedure was being done. I had a wonderful doctor and technician who performed the procedure. The room was immaculate and I felt comfortable.
After it was done my vision was blurry, which was normal. Laura held my hand, guided me to the elevator and we walked back to the hotel. She is a wonderful lady who cares for me dearly. I pretty much slept the afternoon away, what with the pain killing eye drops and the valium the doctor gave me.
The next thing I knew it was the next morning and we had to go back to the doctor to make sure all was good. We checked out of the hotel. Same procedure all over again at the medical center; security interview and temperature check. Everything went smooth on the re-check!
We walked to the car. I was seeing fairly well but could not drive. We were following our “Waze” map and noticed that “Alligator Alley” (part of our route back to Sarasota-Bradenton) was closed because of brush fires! Talk about more stress. We figured out a new route and started to head home. It was a smooth trip home. We ate lunch in the car, stopped for gas at our favorite “Love’s” and went through the same routine with Clorox wipes for the gas pump, mask on when going to the bathroom – you get the picture. We arrived home safe and sound.
Well, it’s an experience that I will never forget. But I realized this is the new norm, at least for now but maybe forever. No longer will I pump gas without cleaning the pump. Carry and wear a mask, a lot! Hotels – double check for cleanliness. The list goes on. But, all in all, getting a medical procedure done during this pandemic was an adventure!
Hope you enjoyed my story. Be safe and make smart choices.
Suncoast Post Photo.