Have you ever felt like your doctor’s appointment is at an unreasonable time? Maybe you’ll hit the worst of the traffic in the morning. Maybe the new doctor you’re seeing isn’t even in the same town. Perhaps they’ve got one available new patient appointment over the next five months.
What if the event of going to the doctor’s is enough to take all your energy for the day?
Being chronically ill and disabled means I have to spend most of my time in and out of doctor’s offices – sometimes there’s a great reason to be there, other times the appointments are pointless and truly serve no purpose.
This past Friday I finally had my appointment with the neurosurgeon to go over my scoliosis results. I called every week to see if they had an afternoon appointment open up and eventually was told that the next afternoon appointment with the PA I was scheduled to see wasn’t until August…
The whole scoliosis thing was a bit of a mess to begin with, so postponing the appointment made no sense. I had fired the doctor who initially ordered the test. My new doctor had to reorder the test and canceled my follow up with him to send me directly to a neurosurgeon upon seeing the x-rays. They said some medical mumbo-jumbo over the phone that left me with little understanding.
However, forcing myself to wake up 2 hours early to be up and out of my house by 10 AM to make it into Charleston on time was out of the question.
To push myself so early would make me sick. I’d be too nauseated to eat so early. I wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom at the right times prior to leaving. I have a morning routine for a reason, and it’s what keeps me functioning each and every day. In order to accommodate this routine, I realized there was bound to be a hotel near my doctor’s office and it would be a lot easier to be 5 minutes from the appointment rather than 40 minutes to an hour away.
Insert Home2 Suites, by Hilton. Not only was I drawn to their proximity to my appointment, but their incredibly reasonable price and the focus on accessibility right on their homepage caught my attention.
So, Thursday afternoon I drove down to the hotel to get all checked in and comfortable. The room itself was absolutely incredible:
The room came with a close to full sized kitchen, dishes, a separate couch area that could be curtained off from the two beds (I got two beds unsure if I’d need my mom depending on how I was feeling), and multiple work spaces.
Initially, I was taken aback with how incredibly bright everything was. The hotel hallways were lined with the brightest florescent lights available and the walls were a bright maroon. Thankfully, hotels don’t force you to sleep in the hallways. I was thrilled to see my hotel room had incredibly effective black out blinds and multiple ambiance and task lights that allowed me to instantly change the feel of the room. This was the largest accessibility win in my opinion as it not only is perfect for those of us who are sensitive to light, but works to accommodate those who get up later than the sun and need it to be darker.
Overall, the room itself was quite comfortable. The layout allowed me to go about my evening the way I would at home. Plus the sheets on the bed were probably the nicest I’ve ever encountered, and the overall comfort of the beds/pillows met the incredible standard Hilton offers ensuring I’d get a great nights rest.
While still on the topic of the hotel I wanted to take a second to note what I thought was great in regards to their accessibility vs what wasn’t so great.
- Full kitchen – don’t have to rely on constantly eating out or going elsewhere anytime you need food.
- Lighting control – the blinds, the various lights, and the curtain to separate the areas of the room really make a dramatic difference.
- Sturdy couch – this is incredibly important especially for those who have difficulty standing up or have to move into a wheelchair.
- The sheets were incredibly soft which is HUGE for anyone who has skin sensitivities.
- ADA Compliance – the fixtures and switches were all at a height that would be comfortably within reach of an individual in a chair and the desk space and “dining table” both had proper space to roll under comfortably. There is proper space for both radial turns and t-shaped turns for wheelchair users.
- The staff is always willing to go the extra mile and help in any way needed. This is the Hilton standard, but is incredibly useful and worthy of being mentioned as an accessible aspect.
The Not So Great
- The doors to the rooms were HEAVY.
- The elevator doors shut incredibly quickly and were relatively slow in responding to placing a hand out to keep the door open – I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to use a mobility aid while getting on or off the elevator because of this observation.
- The roll-in showers are only available in the accessible King-size suites – this can be great if the individual is traveling alone or with their significant other but added cost for separate rooms for caregivers or other travel partners who could stay in a room like I stayed in is an added financial burden that wasn’t completely considered.
Having this hotel saved me, but in making extra accommodations to ensure I feel good means I can’t forget about the regular way I live at home. At home, I eat a well balanced diet but being away from home and not feeling completely up to running to grab food meant I ordered in.
I chose to treat myself to my favorite barbecue restaurant and got a pulled pork platter with hash, mac and cheese, and green beans.
I didn’t take into account the way cheese makes me feel. I didn’t consider what other ingredients may be in my food that pose as potential triggers – higher sodium, the fat content in the pulled pork, and no one really knows what’s in the hash. I also treated myself to a banana pudding dessert that was a little too sugary.
I also ignored the added strain of driving to the hotel, along with the stress of my doctor’s appointment.
To say I woke up feeling like total shit is an understatement.
I brought my granola and toppings from home, but wasn’t able to finish it. My appetite was gone and I was incredibly nauseous. I was totally scatterbrained trying to stick to my morning routine but also get things packed up so I would leave on time. The coffee in the room was – well it was awful, I’m a coffee snob, but I wasn’t up to stopping to grab more on the way to my appointment.
Getting to my appointment was easy.
The appointment itself felt much longer than it was and was honestly useless. The office was almost lit too well, and my appointment room had even brighter lights.
The physician’s assistant was incredibly nice, but it was clear no one knew why I’d ever received a referral in the first place. My scoliosis curve is very minor and requires no further attention or treatment. The PA was interested in my “headaches” – he refused to use the word migraine but oh well – and we talked through some potential areas of concern brought up by my chiropractor and physical therapist from last year. We’re going to do an MRI of my neck and lower skull and I’ll have a follow up, but there doesn’t seem to be much left to do in this area of concern.
All in all, I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to book a hotel room to make the best out of a less than ideal appointment time.
I’m glad I thought to even look and it is definitely something I will take advantage of in other instances where it seems necessary. Obviously a later appointment time fixes it all, but sometimes that isn’t possible. I know I need to be more cautious and not “treat” myself in situations like this. There were a variety of factors that could more likely than not could have been avoided and wouldn’t have left me bed-bound for the 36 hours that followed.
Going forward, I know that if I get a hotel I’ll need to pay close attention to the food I order or grab something from the grocery store. I’ll also need to consider a later check out time so I’m not trying to get packed prior to my appointment and can return to rest if need be.
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