I had two visits with my Boston Medical Center physicians last week—one, in person with my new rheumatologist, and a second, via video chat, with my cardiologist. Both had been scheduled months ago, but it afforded me an interesting opportunity to compare the two modes of doctor’s appointments.
My in-person visit went well. I was very glad to see my doc and have a good long conversation with him. He gave me plenty of time to discuss my health and any concerns, and was able to answer all my questions. It was more of a schmooze than a strict, all-business visit, and I think being there helped to make that possible. Having that time—we spoke for about an hour, with only a brief interruption—made the commute worth it.
The downside was just the stress of being there, with all the Covid concerns. First off, I had forgotten that the parking garage requires you to touch a button to get your parking ticket. I did this with gloves on, but how many people don’t? It’s a virus magnet.
There was the inevitable challenge of door handles, elevator buttons, and using a public restroom. I got past all those hurdles with extra vigilance and disposable gloves, which I kept on until I went into the exam room. I used plenty of hand sanitizer, with and without gloves. The medical center checked temps and symptoms upon entry, handed out masks with a pair of forceps, and limited occupancy of elevators and waiting rooms. It simply was not as crowded as usual. And the big test, one week out, I have no Covid symptoms, thank goodness. So, that’s a huge relief.
On Friday, I spent a half-hour on a video chat with my cardiologist, whom I’ve been seeing for decades. The only drawback was a slight hiccup in the video signal that almost kicked us off to a phone call, but fortunately, the signal stabilized. We had a very thorough conversation, which was as good as if I had seen him in person. And no stress of driving or dealing with the public space.
So, given the choice—seeing as I’ve now had a good personal visit with my new rheumatologist and made a real connection with him—I think I’d prefer sticking with telehealth until I’ve had the vaccine and am in the safe zone. The stress of Covid vigilance is intense for me. My blood pressure at BMC was much higher than normal, and that’s probably the reason (back to normal at home).
And it sure beats traffic.
Image: Jason Dent