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Ask HN: Would You Go to the Doctor Right Now?
3 points by brundolf 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments
I have a minor doctor visit I need to make that's probably nothing serious but there's a small chance it could be. It's something that has to be looked at in-person, so I can't just do a remote appointment.

But I'm also in Texas and we're having a COVID spike right now. I'm thinking about just waiting a couple weeks to see if there will be another dip, but if there isn't then the virus situation will be a couple weeks' worse with potentially no end in sight.

What would you do? Do you think we'll keep having a seesaw effect as restrictions are lifted and then re-instituted over and over, or do you think a lot of people are just done quarantining for good?

If it is something serious, how fast is it going to be? Is it something that will cause you significant issues in five years, or in a few months?

If you have, say, a 1% chance that the thing you have is fatal, well, you have a 1% chance of dying from Covid... if you get it. You aren't 100% certain to get it if you go to the doctor, though. In fact, it's probably in the single digits that you'll get it from a doctor's visit. (All numbers made up on the spot - I have no actual data.)

In fact, if your thing has some time urgency to it, maybe going now is the answer. My personal impression is that Texas isn't going to get better for a long time. Six months? Two years? It's not going to get better, and it may get worse.

Note well: I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. I'm just some random nobody on the internet, shooting my mouth off.

My scheduled physical at a medical center was last week. It was different to say the least.

I was met in the lobby by 6 nurses and guards, told precisely where to stand and to answer 10 questions which were shouted to me by a frightened nurse. She moved forward, pointed a temperature gun at my forehead and then jumped back. It was as if I were about to be arrested; very unsettling.

Once "approved" an orange sticker was put on my shoulder and I was permitted to proceed to the hallway elevators. Once inside I began to notice discarded orange stickers at random in the building.

During my visit I asked my physician about all this. He said no one with covid symptoms is allowed in the bldg. Instead they're handled by tele-medicine and/or directed to a hospital or ER. He has seen NO covid patients at all, nor had his starr. Here was a medical doctor in the middle of a pandemic who had never seen a covid-19 patient: the irony of the situation apparently had long since escaped him.

Anyway, a medical center may be one of the safest places to go right now since a sick person, especially a covid-sick person, is unlikely to get past the guards! So likely covid will eventually enter these medical centers via the staff, cleaning workers (who can't afford to not work), someone fixing the windows, or suppliers, &c.

Unless you have covid I recommend you relax, go see your doctor and enjoy the theater of entering a locked-down secure and armed medical facility. Leave your handgun in your car or they might shoot you (seriously). Any quick move I made was immediately attended by multiple guards startling. Way, way too much caffeine and imagination is fueling these places!

And FWIW my cholesterol is really looking good!8-))

Aside: for a month I've been asking everyone 2 questions:

- do you know anyone who has/had covid?

- has anyone you know ever spoken of someone they know who has covid?

Results: only one person said "yes" to either question: he knew some workmen who had it: They worked through it b/c they'd lose their jobs otherwise.

So it appears covid is really, really rare, on the order of unicorns rare. I can see why some people believe the pandemic is a giant hoax.

Try a remote screening first so the doctor or at least someone with an actual medical background can have a chance to tell you a technical opinion whether you can wait more or not. Men usually underestimate health issues so don't count on your "probably" from your post being nothing really, but please don't expose yourself out of pure fear just yet. If the remote screening tells your odds of needing an on site visit are over 50% then plan accordingly, then be paranoid with self-care/clothing/hygiene and good luck.

Already did a remote screening and the current thing is a referral. The symptoms are definitely real and not in my head, but my doctor said the chance of it being something serious like cancer is "small".

I'm in AZ and going for a full body PET scan Monday. I'm also high risk for covid-19. However, medical facilities require everyone wear a mask, have temp checked on entrance, etc. And I'll probably only be out a couple of hours. TBH, the Uber ride is probably a bigger risk then the doctor. On the other hand - I won't be going to any hospitals till this all dies down. If I need biopsies, they'll have to wait.

Anyway, I think you'd be ok

Yeah, unfortunately what I go to is a "medical center", which I don't believe counts as a "hospital" in terms of having emergency rooms and such, but it is a large medical complex including lots of GP offices; not just a one-off specialist's building.

Still - if its not an emergency room, people there are probably in for routine checks and not covid related. The place I'm going is an 'imaging center' - so they do xrays, CAT scans, PET scans, etc. Probably not going to bump into anyone infectious there. My endo and pulmonologist's offices have been pretty empty, with short waits. Both the imaging center and the office's had the full mask, social distancing (empty chairs blocked), temp, and sanitizer routine at the door..

If you're going to a 'medical complex', I'd expect them to have something similar at the doors since they usually have a receptionist type desk.

If the personnel there wear masks and require all visitors to wear masks, then go.

Many people are forgoing routine checkups, and this will lead to extra death and morbidity going forward.

EDIT: also worth checking: some facilities have been set aside for non-covid symptom patients. In some areas, whole hospitals are this way.

I checked and mine filters people by symptoms at the door and has symptomatic people wait in their cars. But then, something crazy like 70% are asymptomatic, right?

I saw a recent study of an Italian town where they exhaustively tested everyone. It was something like 40% got it but had no symptoms.

The main means of transmission appears to be when people are talking, coughing, sneezing. If someone is talking without a mask on, they are spraying droplets everywhere. If they have a mask on, then the risk is much lower. If you have a mask on, too, then it is even lower.

In Singapore, medical personnel had excellent success by wearing surgical masks at all times, and wearing N95 masks only when performing procedures where lots of droplets were expected, such as extubating a patient.

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