A common sight in the waiting rooms at most hospitals and health care facilities are the number of people wearing N95 respirators.
At first I thought they were wearing medical masks. But I’ve come to find out those masks are a bit too loose-fitting and not quite suitable at guarding against H1N1 and other viruses.
A visit to a hospital waiting room for some can be scarier than entering a haunted house during the recent Halloween season.
My experience there started the day before trick or treat. My son, Josh, woke up with swollen cheek. He had been anxiously looking forward to going to school and inviting his friends for his 14th birthday bash planned for that following day.
Instead, upon the recommendation of a pharmacist, he was instructed to go to the immediate care facility for medical attention on a mouth blister, thus, missing school. For the past week, Josh thought he had a slow-healing cold sore.
I noticed that half of those seeking treatment that morning were wearing the respirators while filling out the necessary paper work mounted on a clip board. The room echoed sounds of coughing and crying children.
My attention was focused on my son along with a book and the morning edition newspaper consisting of the crossword puzzle and the word Jumble. I knew we were in for a long wait that day.
However, I would soon be in for one of the more agonizing 45 minutes in my life.
After taking a look at Josh’s mouth blister, the doctor turned to me to ask about some of his family history.
“Is there diabetes in your family?” he asked.
“Not on my side,” I said. “But his (maternal) grandfather is diabetic.”
I later discovered that his maternal grandmother is also diabetic.
The doctor had Josh take a blood test just to further check things out.
Understandably, he was visibly shaken about the possibility of diabetes. Even worse, it pained me to see him in that state. I was braced for any worse case scenario, wondering if my son would have to find his new normal while living life with diabetes.
As he sobbed, waiting for the test results, I took hold of Josh’s hand and assured him that everything would be OK.
Moments like these are when parents earn their stripes. I prayed and prayed just to be strong in handling whatever the results.
The doctor finally returned with the blood test and, thankfully, the news was good. Josh didn’t have diabetes. We were both relieved.
But it had been a wake-up call. Given his family history, Josh, from this point on, will go through regular checkups with his own doctor.
I looked back at his family tree. Josh’s maternal great-grandmother, Ursula, died of cancer when he was a few months old. But she also smoked cigarettes until the last day of her life.
My father died in his 50s from heart attack. But, according to an autopsy, he sustained artery damage shortly after arriving to this country for work. He recalled being ill for some time but perhaps not getting the proper medical attention. His heart attack was a result of that earlier incident.
I actually shared this piece of family history with my son. I can only hope he’ll remember this sort of information if and when he has his own family.
To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org