Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'm free! I'm free!

I was so busy this morning. I had to go pick up a prescription for someone, go check on my mother's mailbox in her apartment building, go see her in the hospital in the intensive care unit, not a moment to spare.
I got to her building, checked the mail and hopped into the elevator and pushed 3. The elevator lurched up a couple of feet, then dropped back down. Feeling irritated, I pushed the 3 button again.Nothing happened. I pushed the 1 button....after all, I wasn't sure if I had landed back on the first floor. Nothing. I started to realize that there was a big problem here. I pressed the "open door" button. I pressed it a few more times. Nothing. Yes, I was trapped. I've heard of this happening to people before, but never realized the horror of experiencing this. There was a red "alarm" button and I rang that. I could hear it as though it just rang in the hallways, maybe to alert someone passing by?
There was a little door indicating a way to call for help, and I opened it. No phone inside, just a button and a speaker. I pressed the button. An operator came on and took my name and asked if I was all right. I said "Well, I'm all right for now...but I'm trapped!" She also took my cell phone number, asked me what building I was in, and told me that she would alert maintenance for me. The line was temporarily scratchy and she asked me to repeat my cell phone number, stating that another operator had cut in and caused interference. I repeated my number to her. (I kept's the maintenance people work today, or will they have to be paged????) Now, the building I was in is owned by a corporation in Rhode Island, so I didn't know for sure if that's where I was calling with this button...I also worried about how long it would take.
I took off my jacket, as it was very small and close in there, and I was getting warm. I looked up. There was a plastic grid way above me, with lighting enclosed. I couldn't see anything else. There was no fan, as you find in some elevators. I remembered things that I had seen on TV in the past. I knew that I must remain calm, take shallow, calm breaths, and not use up all of the air quickly. It was like being shut in a very stuffy closet. I leaned against the wall and shut my eyes and kept praying that God would send someone to me. I flipped open my phone and thought that I would call a few people on my contact list to just somehow alert authorities to help me. Another disappointment as I saw on my phone that there was no reception available in the elevator! This of course, meant that the operator with whom I had spoken would never call me back. My heart sank. I went back to leaning against the wall and praying for help.
After about 15 minutes I heard someone coming through the main doors. I banged on the elevator door and said "Hello?" A man answered me, and asked where I was. I told him I was trapped in the elevator. I said "Are you the maintenance man?" He said "No, I'm delivering newspapers." I asked him to please not leave me alone. He told me that his truck was running outside and he would go shut it off and then come back in. I heard him leave and then I heard the doors open again as he returned. I could hear that he was talking to someone on a cell phone. He questioned me as to whether I had pushed emergency buttons, etc...and I told him of my call for maintenance, but they weren't there yet. I said "Sir, could you do something for me?" He said "Yes." I said "Please call the local police department and alert them that I am stuck in here!" His reply: "Ummmm I don't think I can call 911 about this, because it's not a real emergency." (Good Lord, he didn't even know how long I had been waiting!) I put my mouth up next to the elevator door and said "Sir...I HAVE to get out of here!"
Suddenly, the elevator lurched and brought me up to the second floor, which wasn't my destination, but I was hopeful. Then the door OPENED! I hopped off, and warned the woman on the second floor, who had obviously called the elevator up there, NOT to step into the elevator. I took the stairs the rest of the way up, and stood near the hallway window, taking deep breaths of wonderful, brisk Fall air, trying to calm myself. I couldn't believe I was free!
And in that building in particular, I'll be taking the stairs from now on!
(p.s. I realize that I simplified this experience for my blog. If anyone thinks it was a short and sweet happening...I must tell you that I needed to keep my bedroom window wide open that night in order to sleep and spent the next couple of days reliving it in my mind and taking extraordinarily deep breaths to calm myself.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flu shots, quick and easy

We've been hearing about the need for a flu shot in the press lately and I did get one last year. Slowly, I began to realize that others in my family had taken care of getting theirs; but I lagged behind. Everywhere I went last week, I noticed signs advertising flu shots. There's a walk-in clinic that I pass frequently and also pharmacies nearby, such as Walgreen's and CVS.
I even noticed the pharmacy at Stop & Shop had a sign saying that the flu shot would be only $10 with your store card.
A couple of days ago, I stopped in to Walgreen's and asked if I could get my shot. The pharmacy assistant told me that the pharmacist would be back in one hour. I really didn't have time to wait, so I continued on my way. This morning I used the internet to look up locations and made a couple of calls.
Stop & Shop didn't have the needed pharmacist there today. He'd be in tomorrow and as always they said "It's best to call ahead." Hmmmmm....Ok, stopping in didn't work the other day, but I gave Walgreen's a call. "Yes", the person on the phone said,"we're giving out the shots today." I headed right over there. Their price was $24.99; but I decided that it's better to get the shot and quit shopping around and hoping to catch an appropriate time at another location.
After filling out a page about general health, medications and naming my primary care physician, I was told to sit down and they would call me. Four other people followed suit and we all waited. After about 5 minutes I was called in and was given my flu shot. It was quick and painless and I was on my way....hopefully guarded by at least one strain of the flu which may visit us this year.
I really liked the convenience of being able to get routine medical treatment at various locations, as compared to securing an appointment at a doctor's office and waiting around. I think this idea has become popular and well-received by most people. You kind of have the feeling that it's just part of your shopping day!
Although I had to pay cash for the immunization, I would have had to pay a co-pay amount for an office visit at the doctor's office anyhow, so it actually just about evens out.