Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 15, 2022

My Summer of Sickness: Why I'm Glad to Live Near Patient First Urgent Care.

This blog post is sponsored by Patient First Urgent Care. Thank you for supporting the brand partners that support Southern Belle in Training!

There's no doubt in my mind that 2022 has been the best year of my life. Honestly, I think it'll be a hard year to top this year in my future. But even in the best of years, there are some lows to balance out the highs. And for me, all of the lows of 2022 seemed to be of a medical nature. I feel thankful that none of the medical situations I had this year were anything life-threatening or too serious. I didn't have cancer or a chronic illness, and I didn't need any surgeries. (For that I am so, so thankful!) But even less serious medical related things can still be a pain to deal with and can be both time consuming and expensive. In 2022, I missed three and a half weeks of work between various illnesses and dental work. Woof!

       Let's recap my medical events of 2022. First up, I had my first-ever root canal in April, and the healing from it took longer than expected. I thought I'd be good to go within a few hours after the procedure, but I had a lot of swelling and pain and was out of work for a few days. (Root canal recovery + talking for a living at my day job = doesn't mix well.) Covid came for me at long last in September. I managed to dodge it for two and a half years, but it finally got me. I feel very thankful that I had a fairly mild case, but I still had to miss a week of work for my quarantine. But the worst medically related thing of 2022 for me? That would be the mysterious (non-Covid) respiratory infection that I had in the height of summer. In today's blog post, I'm going to tell you more about that experience, as well as how visiting a local Patient First Urgent Care Center a week into being sick finally helped start turning things around for me.

Prior to July 2022, I hadn't been seriously sick in a whopping 9.5 years. Sure I'd usually get a seasonal cold most years in the fall, and I'd had a few fast moving stomach bugs or sinus infections, but no illnesses that really took me out since my freshman year of college. When the pandemic began, I was very worried about getting Covid before vaccines were out. I took social distancing and masking pretty seriously until I could get vaccinated, and I didn't really get any sicknesses in 2020 and 2021. Not even a cold! I knew that my luck with avoiding sicknesses would catch up to me at some point, especially since my life had pretty much gone back to normal following getting vaccinated. But I didn't expect things to happen in the height of Summer 2022, and for things to go downhill so quickly for me.

      I first started feeling a bit off during the evening of Sunday, July 24th. I did go to work the next day on Monday morning, but after being there about an hour I started feeling feverish. I left work, came home to take an at-home Covid test (negative), and couldn't find my thermometer. I drove to a local store to buy one. Despite the fact I still felt very feverish, the thermometer showed a normal temperature. I rested for the rest of the day. I went back to work Tuesday morning the 26th. I still felt a bit "off" in ways I can't quite describe, but I didn't feel feverish at least, so I went about my normal workday. I started feeling more "off" that evening before bed, so I took another at-home Covid test. Negative again! I went to sleep... and promptly at 2:30am was awoken by multiple sickness symptoms. Woof

     It's 2:30am on a Wednesday and I'm throwing up, have a fever of 100+, and a terrible headache and body aches. Ugh! I manage to fall somewhat back to sleep, but it's not a restful sleep. The fever is too distracting. I got ahold of my parents later that morning and they encouraged me to make a Covid PCR test appointment for later that day. Both of my at-home tests had been negative, but sometimes you never know. I was in absolutely no shape to drive but somehow got myself safely there and back to a local drugstore, where I got a PCR test. Then back to my bed, and to wait for the results. 

My first day of bad fever and chills.

     Thursday night I barely slept, as my fever and intense chills woke me up multiple times overnight. It was terrible. My boyfriend Ryan didn't feel comfortable visiting until my PCR results came in (understandable!), so on Thursday I was completely alone at home. And very, very sick. Constant fever, more throwing up, terrible aches and pains, and lightheadedness. And to top it all off- a horrendous dry cough that would not go away. It was all just awful! I still had somewhat of an appetite, but a lot of food didn't sound good to me. I started mainly eating bread and popsicles (lol). I hadn't been sick like this in nearly a decade and it was so hard for me to cope. My parents encouraged me to make a doctors appointment for the following day, so I scheduled a tele-health appointment for Friday the 29th. 

All I wanted to eat were popsicles and bread with my upset stomach!

     Friday brought good and bad news. The good news was that my PCR test came back: not Covid! Ryan felt better about running errands for me and visiting me following that news. The bad news? The not-so-great experience I had with my doctor's office that day. I was really hoping to be seen by my doctor in person. My symptoms were not improving in the slightest, and it had now been 48 hours of horrible and intense symptoms. Since 2020, my doctors office has had a policy that if you have an active fever, you are not allowed for in-person visits. It doesn't matter if you wear a mask, had a recent negative Covid test, or would take another Covid test while there. If you had a fever, Covid or not, they wouldn't see you in-office. When I had my tele-health appointment, I found it extremely impersonal and rushed. I feel like it was also hard to convey through Zoom just how sick I actually was. I was prescribed a basic Z-Pak antibiotic, and a separate pill for my cough. My doctor also encouraged me to go to a local hospital for a chest x-ray as soon as possible, as she nonchalantly seemed pretty certain I had pneumonia after a few minutes of talking to me on Zoom. (Also can I just say how confusing that is? They wouldn't see me in the office for a visit because of the fever, but were fine with me going to a non-emergency outpatient x-ray center.) Ryan came to pick me up as I still wasn't in any shape to be driving, and he took me over to a local hospital to get my chest x-ray. 

The worst mirror selfie I've ever taken. At this point, my body ached so much to get up to go to the bathroom or get food in the kitchen!

     Over the weekend, I continued to feel worse. My fevers were getting higher, the chills were getting more intense, I was still throwing up a lot, and my headaches were getting worse too. By Monday morning, I'd been on the Z-Pak and cough pills for almost three days, and had no improvement. It was quite the opposite, I was definitely getting worse! The chest x-ray results had come back negative for pneumonia. But if I didn't have Covid and I didn't have pneumonia, what did I have? Why wasn't I improving? That morning was very stressful and difficult for me. At the urging of my parents, my boss and some coworkers, and Ryan, I agreed to go to an urgent care that afternoon. 

     I have to be honest, at first I wasn't crazy about the idea of going to urgent care. It had been years since I'd gone to an urgent care for anything, but the whole concept of it in my brain just seemed chaotic and impersonal. Like a DMV visit, but for healthcare! If anything, I just wanted to be seen in-office by my actual doctor's office. But due to my continuing fever and their policies, it wasn't an option. So I said yes to urgent care. Ryan helped me look at some urgent care options in Virginia Beach, and that's how we found Patient First Urgent Care. Before we drove over to one, he called to make sure they would see me despite me having a fever. They said absolutely! That was the first inkling of positivity to me, and I started thinking how maybe going to urgent care wouldn't be a negative experience.

Ryan trying to keep me smiling under my mask in the Patient First waiting room. I had sunglasses on indoors to help with my horrible headache!

      I cannot say enough good things to you about how phenomenal my experience was visiting Patient First in Virginia Beach on Monday, August 1st 2022. It was the first time in almost a week that I felt positive and hopeful in regards to getting over my sickness! Every single Patient First staff member that I interacted with, from the check-in staff to the nurses to the PA, were all so kind, happy and energetic. Completely different vibes than I'd had in the tele-health appointment with my regular doctor's office. The check-in process was not only easy, but the staff member checking us in really took the time to talk to both Ryan and I, and make us feel welcomed and comfortable. Soon after I was evaluated by a nurse. She started a variety of blood and urine tests, and intently listened to me as I explained the symptoms that I'd had for the past week, and asked helpful clarifying questions. Each nurse I interacted with was great, and they all seemed to truly care about me. I didn't feel like a burden or a random patient amongst a sea of other sick people. And that was such a gift! 

      When it came time to meet the PA who would be conducting the rest of the visit, he charmed Ryan and I right away with his great sense of humor. Here I was, feverish and sick as can be, yet laughing away in urgent care at the PA's great jokes! He told me how none of my tests showed any specific illness diagnoses. No flu, no strep, no mono, and we'd already ruled out Covid and pneumonia. This meant that I just had some sort of nasty upper respiratory infection. It was a little frustrating not to get a specific diagnosis, but the PA was so confident in switching up my antibiotics and medicine routine, and his positivity helped encourage me that even without a specific diagnosis I would finally be on the road to recovery soon. He prescribed a new antibiotic and some other cold and flu medicines, and also sent me home with an inhaler to take for my cough, instead of the cough pills my main doctor had prescribed (which were doing nothing). When Ryan and I left Patient First, I still felt sick, but was in such good spirits after having so many positive interactions with Patient First staff. I knew that I would get over the illness! 

     I started all of the new medicines prescribed to me at Patient First that night. I wish I could tell you it was an instant recovery! Unfortunately, that would've been too good to be true. But... starting the next day, I could finally sense some slight improvements. Like my headache finally going away, and allowing me to sit on the couch for extended periods of time to watch TV! I'd been so sick the first week that I couldn't even spend time on the couch watching TV. I was in bed 24/7. The throwing up went from happening a couple times a day to once a day, and finally to once every couple of days. The fever was truly stubborn. It took a full 14 days for my fever to break. (That means that for 14 days, I didn't sleep through the night!) But sometimes you just can't rush your body to heal. And in the moments during the second week that I'd get discouraged,  I'd think back to how encouraged I'd felt at my Patient First visit. 

    Two weeks after my symptoms had started, I finally returned to work. Being sick in bed for two full weeks made me so appreciative of my day-to-day life again! Normalcy seems so exciting after you've been sick. The Patient First billing process following my visit was super easy as well. They accept most health insurance, and I found the payment process to be transparent and stress-free. I hope that 2023 is a year filled with more health and sickness immunity for me! But in case it's not, I am so glad to know that I have so many fantastic Patient First locations in the Hampton Roads area to visit if needed.

My first day back at work on-air after two weeks home sick!

      Patient First has locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. They have the Mid-Atlantic states completely covered! Not only is Patient First open on weekends and holidays, but in addition to treating illnesses, they offer X-rays, can dispense prescription drugs onsite, offer primary care services, have telehealth options, women services, travel immunizations, and more. It’s like a local one-stop shop for all of you and your family’s healthcare needs. You can also find Physician and Physician Assistant schedules for each location posted on the Patient First website.  That way, you can check to see when your preferred provider is working.  If they are working today, you can walk in and see them today!

     The Patient First team also maintains a blog on the website called Health Matters. They often post helpful articles relating to all sorts of health issues and prevention. A few recent article topics that really relate to the upcoming season include Tips for Staying Active While Traveling and Healthy Holiday - Swaps for Dietary Restrictions.

     Cheers to a healthy 2023! I already feel confident about the next year knowing that Patient First is nearby.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


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